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Saturday March 6, 2010No. 10 Miami Upends No. 5 Baseball, 9-6, To Even Series

Coral Gables, Fla.

No. 10 Miami (7-2) scored three unearned runs in the fifth to turn a one-run deficit into a lead it would not relinquish on its way to a 9-6 win over No. 5 Florida (6-2) on Saturday night at Alex Rodriguez Park. Senior Scott Lawson (2-for-4) and sophomore Nathan Meledres (1-for-2) drove in three runs apiece for the Hurricanes, with freshman Eric Whaley (2-0) picking up the win and senior David Gutierrez picking up his third save. The teams will play the rubber game of the series at 3 p.m. tomorrow, live on FOX Sports Florida.  


Miami had runners on the corners with one down in the first inning against freshman Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) (1-1) but failed to score. Freshman Zeke DeVoss (3-for-4) led off with single into left field before freshman Stephen Perez popped up a bunt attempt. After a base-hit into right field by Lawson advanced DeVoss to third, Johnson struck out junior Yasmani Grandal. Lawson moved into scoring position with a stolen base but Johnson countered with a K of sophomore David Villasuso to keep the game scoreless.


Junior Chris Pelaez (3-for-4, two RBI) broke the ice for Miami with a solo shot to begin the home part of the second. His third homer of the season cleared the fence in right field.


Freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) (3-for-4) had an infield hit to start the third and senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) (2-for-5) raised his hitting streak to 17 games by dragging a bunt up the first-base line. Senior Jason Santana had junior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) hit into a 5-4-3 double play, moving Fontana to third base, and sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-3, two walks) walked on four pitches. Santana worked out of trouble by having a grounder by freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) force Tucker at second to end the frame.


The Hurricanes added another run in the third on an RBI grounder by Lawson for a 2-0 lead. DeVoss started things off with a double into the left-field corner and advanced to third on a grounder by Perez. Lawson drove in his teammate with a ground ball to second base.


Florida tallied three runs in the fifth on a single through the right side of the infield by den Dekker, a sacrifice fly by Maddox and a two-out single by sophomore Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) to seize a 3-2 advantage. Fontana roped a one-out triple to straightaway center field just beyond the reach of DeVoss for his first career three-bagger and den Dekker followed with his second hit of the night for a 2-1 score. The senior now has seven multiple-hit outings in eight games this season. Adams and Tucker earned back-to-back free passes to load the bases with one down and Maddox tied the game with a fly ball to deep right field that brought across den Dekker. Thompson grooved a 3-1 offering from Santana into left field for his initial hit of the series to put the Gators ahead and prompt a pitching change. Whaley replaced Santana (4.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 6 K) and had a fielder’s choice from junior Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.) (2-for-4) force Thompson to end the inning.   


A pair of two-out fielding errors by the Gators in the fifth enabled the Hurricanes to score three unearned runs to re-claim the lead, 5-3. Senior Ryan Perry stroked a one-out single into center and moved to second on a grounder by DeVoss. Perez hit what appeared to be an inning-ending grounder to third that was mishandled by Smith for runners on the corners. Lawson stepped to the plate and moved the hosts back in front with his second triple of the season to right field that scored both of his teammates and ended the night for Johnson. In his second start, the southpaw gave up six hits and five runs (two earned), with a career-high five strikeouts over 4.2 innings. Grandal greeted sophomore reliever Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) with a grounder to first that was misplayed by Tucker, enabling Lawson to come across.


Miami expanded the margin to 8-3 in the sixth on a three-run blast to left field by Melendres. Pelaez and sophomore Harold Martinez started the frame with consecutive singles and Melendres cleared the bases with his first round-tripper of the campaign to end the night for Larson (0.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R).


The Gators countered with a three-run dinger of their own in the seventh, as Smith connected on his first big fly to narrow the gap to 8-6. Tucker had doubled down the right-field line with one down and Maddox poked a single for runners on the corners before Thompson was caught looking on strikes. Smith tagged a 0-1 offering from Whaley out of the yard to reduce UF’s deficit to two runs. Over two innings, Whaley permitted four hits and three runs with a couple of strikeouts.


Pelaez bashed an RBI double to the gap in left center off freshman Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) in the bottom of the seventh for a 9-6 UM lead and is now hitting .593 on the year. Freshman Frankie Ratcliff had drawn a one-out walk and scored on Pelaez’s third hit of the night.


Freshman Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) and Fontana began the eighth with singles before sophomore Daniel Miranda came through with a key strikeout of den Dekker. Gutierrez took over for Miranda (0.2 IP, 2 H) and a bizarre play undid the Gators when the umpires inexplicably called an infield fly on a pop-up to center field that was dropped by DeVoss, resulting in Adams and Zunino being called out. Gutierrez set down the Gators in the ninth with three strikeouts in a row to complete the contest. Although Florida held a 13-11 advantage in hits, it committed two errors and struck out 12 times.


Game Notes

·          Miami ended a three-game losing streak in the series dating back to last February.

·          Preston Tucker’s double in the first inning was his first extra-base hit of the season and extended his hitting streak to seven games. He added another two-bagger in the seventh.

·          Before tonight, the Gators had not committed any errors for three-straight games.

·          Brian Johnson’s previous career high for strikeouts was three against USF on Feb. 20.

·          Nolan Fontana and Mike Zunino each have six-game hitting streaks, while Austin Maddox is on a five-game skein.

·          Bryson Smith had both his first stolen base (second inning) and first homer at UF (seventh inning).





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