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Sunday March 5, 2000Florida Baseball Completes Sweep with 7-5 Victory

Gainesville, FL

Mark Kiger’s double in the seventh inning completed Florida’s come-from- behind effort to sweept the three-game series against Massachusetts with a 7-5 victory Sunday at McKethan Stadium. Florida (10-8) won for the fourth time in the last five games, while UMass dropped to 0-3 on the season.

Kenny Birch (1-0) earned the win out of the bullpen for Florida, allowing just one run on three hits with four strikeouts over 3.2 innings. He also picked up a save in the series opener on Friday.

Birch (pictured) was the beneficiary of the Florida’s comeback after UF trailed 4-1 after six innings. UMass jumped out on UF starter Mike Smalley for three runs in the first inning, adding a single run in the fifth inning in an attempt to avoid the sweep.

UMass starter Travis Veracka held UF to one run over six innings, but the Minutemen bullpen did not have the same success. The Gators scored four runs on reliever Craig Szado in the seventh to take the lead. After a leadoff walk to Ryan Shealy, Tim Olson homered to pull UF within a single run. Pat Osborn then walked and Aaron Davidson followed with a double to put the go-ahead run in scoring position. Reliever Brian Hourigan got Kurt Keene, who homered in the fourth inning, to strikeout before Kiger lined a double down the left field line to plate two runs.

Florida added two unearned runs in the eighth inning when UMass shortstop Aaron Senez threw away the ball with the bases loaded on a potential inning-ending force out at second base. The insurance runs were helpful as the Minutemen scored one run in the ninth off Birch. Pete Nystrom also made a home run-saving catch that prevented a second run from scoring. After a strikeout and single Birch then got a force out to end the game.

Florida returns to action against Louisville Tuesday for the first of two games against the Cardinals. LHP Craig Mosher is expected to start for Florida.

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