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Saturday March 23, 2002Baseball Erupts For 14-5 Victory At South Carolina

Columbia, S.C.

No. 6 Florida built a 6-4 lead behind an 8.0-inning pitching performance from Alex Hart then erupted for an eight-run ninth inning to defeat No. 4 South Carolina 14-5 Saturday before 4,123 at Sarge-Frye Field. The victory improves Florida to 4-1 in the SEC and 21-4 overall while South Carolina drops to 3-2 in the SEC and 20-4 overall. The series is now tied at 1-1 after USC’s 2-1 victory on Friday evening. Game three of the three-game series is Sunday at 1:30 p.m. in Columbia.

Hart (7-0) held South Carolina as UF built a 6-4 lead over eight innings. He won his seventh game of the year after throwing 122 pitches and allowed just five hits, four runs (three earned) and walked four of his 34 batters faced. Hart has gone at least 6.0 innings pitched in each of his seven starts this season. Junior Jamie Goldfarb pitched the final inning.

"The key for Alex today was that he knew the game was in his hands and he poured the ball in the strike zone," Florida head coach Pat McMahon said. "The kids really battled and competed today. It was a great effort for our team."

Leading 6-4 after Hart set down South Carolina in the eighth inning, Florida opened the game with eight runs in the top of the ninth. The Gators loaded the bases when Pat Osborn singled, Brian Rose reached on an error on a sacrifice bunt and Jonathan Tucker singled. Mark Kiger drove a run in on a RBI single followed by Mario Garza’s RBI single past the USC first baseman. Aaron Sobieraj’s sacrifice drove in a run and Ryan Shealy blasted an 0-2 pitch over the wall in left center field for a two run homer and 12-4 lead. UF went on to score two more runs to extend its lead to 14-4.

"In the early going, we hit some balls really hard but right at people," McMahon said. "But we stuck with it and eventually, those balls started falling for hits. Also, our short game was extremely effective for us tonight."

Florida took a 5-2 lead in the sixth taking advantage of two hits, an error and passed ball. Ryan Shealy led off the sixth with a double. He advanced to third on Ben Harrison’s sacrifice bunt attempt and scored when the ensuing throw bounced off Harrison’s shoulder for an error. Pat Osborn followed with a bunt single past the pitcher. USC starter David Marchbanks was then replaced by Chris Spigner who walked Brian Rose to load the bases. Aaron Davidson drove home Harrison from third and Mark Kiger drew a one-out walk to load the bases for the inning’s second time. Spigner struck out Mario Garza for the second out but a passed ball off USC catcher Landon Powell’s glove scored Osborn from third for Florida’s 5-2 lead.

The Gamecocks battled back to a 5-4 deficit with a two-run sixth, scoring on back-to-back doubles by Brian Buscher and Trey Dyson (RBI) and Landon Powell’s RBI single to right field. Both runs were scored with two outs. But the Gators went up 6-4 with an insurance run in the top of the eighth on three consecutive singles by Mario Garza, Aaron Sobieraj and Matt Goss (RBI).

Trailing 2-0 in the fourth, Florida manufactured its first run when Aaron Sobieraj singled, advanced to third on Matt Goss’ single up the middle and scored on Ryan Shealy’s sacrifice fly. After the inning’s second out, Pat Osborn walked and Brian Rose tied the game at 2-2 when he drove Goss home from second on a bloop single to center field.

South Carolina grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Drew Meyer walked, stole second and scored on Steve Thomas’ double over left fielder Aaron Sobieraj’s head. The Gamecocks went up 2-0 in the second when Brian Buscher walked and advanced to second on Trey Dyson’s fielders’ choice/throwing error. A second error on Landon Powell’s ground ball scored Buscher from second base. With the Gamecocks threatening to score more runs, Hart struck out the next batter, Osborn fielded a ground ball and threw out Dyson at home and Aaron Davidson made a diving catch of a pop up.

Despite the lopsided score, Florida left 13 runners on base.

South Carolina starter David Marchbanks (5-2) pitched 5.0 innings and allowed six hits, five runs (three earned). The Gamecocks ended up using five different pitchers.

Shealy led the Gators with a 3-5, three-RBI day. Seven Gators finished with two hits apiece.

GAME NOTES

*Alex Hart is now 7-0 on the season and has pitched at least six-plus innings in each his seven starts this season. He went 8.0 innings today following his career-high 8.1 inning performance last Saturday vs. Ole Miss.

*Florida finished with 10+ hits for the 21st time in 25 games this season.

*Mario Garza extended his hit streak to 10-games with an eighth inning single.

*Florida is now 16-19 against South Carolina including a 7-13 record in games played in Columbia.

--UF--

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