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Friday May 19, 2000Baseball Advances to SEC Tournament Semifinals

Birmingham, Ala.

Freshman Joey Simon (Tampa, Fla.) pitched a six-hitter over six innings to lead 20th-ranked Florida to a 8-7 victory over Kentucky in the second round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. Florida advances to the semifinals Saturday at 2:30 p.m. to face the winner of Friday’s Kentucky/South Carolina loser’s bracket matchup.

Simon (9-2) allowed just three runs on six hits to earn his eighth consecutive victory of the season. After a leadoff triple led to a single UK run, Simon then retired a season-high 11 consecutive batters as UF built a 7-1 lead.

Mark Kiger started the third inning with a single, scoring on Matt Siegel’s triple to the gap in right-center field. Kurt Keene followed with a RBI single for a 2-1 advantage. The Gators built on the lead with two runs in the fourth on four hits, including run-scoring singles by Kevin Estrada and Kiger.

UF added one run in the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly after loading the bases with no outs. Brian Haught added a two-run home run in the seventh inning.

Simon, who held UK scoreless after the first inning, left after giving up back-to-back singles to start the seventh inning. Sophomore Jay Belflower struck out shortstop Jeff Meade before Andy Green doubled to score both Wildcat runs. Meade was stranded as Beau Moore and John Wilson struck out to end the inning.

Florida fought off a Kentucky rally in the ninth inning that put the game- tying run on second base after four unearned runs had crossed the plate to pull UK within 8-7. Belflower got Robert Newton to fly out to end the game.

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