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Sunday April 23, 2000Gator Baseball Posts Comeback Effort Again

Knoxville, Tenn.

Ryan Raburn’s ninth-inning grand slam and Mark Kiger’s solo shot one batter later helped Florida to a 10-9 victory in the series finale over Tennessee. Florida rebounded from a five-run deficit for the second consecutive day to take its second consecutive game on a ninth-inning home run at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Florida improved to 31-17-1, 12-8-1 in Southeastern Conference play, while the Vols dropped to 34-17-1, 7-12 in league play. It was the eighth win in the last at-bat for the Florida squad, which also recorded its 18th come- from-behind win of the season.

Trailing 6-5 in the ninth inning, UF loaded the bases for the fourth time in the game on a single by Pete Nystrom, a walk to Tony Socarras and reach by error by Aaron Sobieraj on an attempted sacrifice bunt. Ryan Raburn then lined the first pitch from Kurt Scott over the left field fence. Kiger added a solo home run one batter later to provide the final margin and the eventual winning run.

Reliever Kenny Birch (6-0) pitched the 3.1 innings to pick up the win. He retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced in the game before having trouble in the ninth inning. Birch gave up a three-run home run in the ninth inning to Stevie Daniel to pull UT within a run at 10-9 before Jay Belflower closed out the game for his second save.

For the second consecutive game, Florida trailed after five innings. UT starter Devon Nicholson held Florida in check for five innings, leaving the game after allowing two runs on seven hits. Jamie Bennett, who won Friday night’s game, entered the game in the sixth inning with the bases loaded, forcing Kiger to fly out to end the inning.

Florida loaded the bases in fifth, sixth and seventh innings without a crucial hit in each situation before the bases loaded hit in the ninth by Raburn.

Socarras provided the offense for Florida to get back in the game, knocking a two-run double in the sixth and blasting a three-run home run in the seventh inning. He finished 3-for-4 with a career-high five RBI on the day.

The Gators best scoring opportunity against Nicholson came in the fifth, loading the bases with one out with Kurt Keene at the plate. Keene, who was 9-for-13 with the bases loaded this season, grounded to short for the force out but beat the throw to first only to be called out by umpire Paul Guillie, who called Kiger for runner’s interference.

Kiger was also involved in each of the next two innings, flying out for the final out of the inning in back-to-back innings with the bases loaded.
The Vols jumped out to an early for the second consecutive game on the UF starter, knocking Craig Mosher out of the game in the third inning with a 3-0 advantage. UT scored two in the first with two doubles and triple by Ryan Moffett, adding a run in the third on sacrifice fly by John Massey.

Reliever Joey Simon did not have much success against the Vols, giving up a two-run home run to Justin Parker in the fourth inning to extend the UT lead to 5-0.

Tim Olson had his 29-game hit streak snapped with an 0-for-4 performance with one walk. Olson was thrown out on a bunt back to the pitcher in the first inning, grounded out to first base in the fourth, flied out to center field in the sixth inning, walked in the seventh inning and ground out to shortstop in the eighth. He finished with the fifth-longest streak in SEC history.

Florida returns home for a three-game series against Auburn next week starting Friday, April 28.
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