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Friday March 3, 2000Florida Baseball Takes Opener with UMass 11-9

Gainesville, FL

Florida hit three home runs and was helped by six Massachusetts errors and 11 walks to claim an 11-9 win Friday night in the first game of the three- game series. Florida (8-8) was out-hit 11-6 but still managed to hold on for the two-run victory over the Minutemen (0-1).

Starter Jay Belflower (1-1) earned the win with a career-high tying 7.2 innings, allowing nine runs on 10 hits with eight strikeouts. He was knocked for three runs off the bat of UMass left fielder Nicholas Gorneault, including a grand slam home run in the third inning. He finished 4-for-5 with three home runs and six RBI in his season debut.

Florida scored in each of the first six innings in the game, adding solo runs for four innings before scoring three in the fifth inning and four in the sixth inning. Matt Siegel and Mark Kiger each had solo home runs and Tony Socarras hit his sixth home run of the year in the fifth inning, a three-run shot to give UF a 7-5 lead.

The Gators added four runs in the sixth inning without recording a hit, receiving six walks and a hit by pitch to score four runs in the inning. Each Florida starter had at least one walk in the game.

UMass rallied for three runs in the eighth inning to pull within two runs. Kenny Birch got his first save of the season, pitching the final 1.1 innings. After a leadoff single in the ninth, Birch retired the next three batters, including Gorneault to end the game, to preserve the win.

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