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Friday February 7, 2003Baseball Opens Season with 15-5 Win Over Mercer

Gainesville, FL

Stephen Barton had two hits and three RBI for the Gators.

Opening day was a charm for the University of Florida baseball as they defeated Mercer University 15-5 Friday night at McKethan Stadium. The Gators trailed early but broke open the game with a nine run bottom of sixth. The win marks head coach Pat McMahon’s 400th career victory.

Florida started to pull away in the sixth to extend a two run advantage entering the inning. Brett Dowdy started the big rally after being hit with a pitch and moving up to second on a ground ball out by Jeff Corsaletti. Dowdy then stole third and scored on a Justin Tordi bunt single. Matt Graziano reached base on a walk and came home on Matt Cresap’s single to right field. Stephen Barton then stepped to the plate and delivered a big blow with a three-run home run to extend the lead to seven. Dowdy came to the plate a second time and doubled scoring Jonathan Tucker and Ben Harrison. Corsaletti added another RBI and Matt Graziano had a RBI single to right field to end the scoring in the inning.

Mercer struck early in the first inning after Jason Gaines led off the game with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice. He later scored on a Jarrod Lynch single to left center field. The Bears went up 3-0 on a two RBI double by Daniel Hurst in the third.

The Gators then struck with their first runs of the game as Tucker led off the fourth inning with a double to right field and advanced to third on a passed ball. Harrison’s single to left field drove Tucker home. Harrison stole third base and Dowdy walked, while both later scored on a Corsaletti RBI double. Corsaletti scored the final run of the inning after a bobbled ball by the Bear shortstop. The four run inning gave the Gators a 4-3 lead that they would not relinquish.

Florida tacked on a run in the fifth as Tucker reached base on a fielders choice and stole second and third bases. Harrison drove him in with a sacrifice fly to right.

Mercer scored in the eighth with an RBI single by Andy Wells scoring Kyle Johnston.

Florida’s C.J. Smith had his first career home run the eighth for the final run of the night for the Gators.

Sophomore Conner Falkenbach had a career high five strike outs in five innings as he picked up the win giving up six hits and three earned runs. In total, four Gator pitchers struck out 12 batters.

Offensively for Florida, Harrison had three hits and two RBI and Barton had a pair of hits and three RBI.

The Gators continue the three-game home series against Mercer on Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

NOTES

  • Coach McMahon had his 400th career victory.
  • Brian Rose’s streak of 127 consecutive games started was snapped.
  • Conner Falkenbach had a career-high five strikeouts.
  • UF improves to 50-38-1 in all-time opening day games.
  • Florida is now 2-3 in all-time openers versus Mercer.
  • UF is now 30-17-1 in home openers all time.
  • Tonight marked the 13th time Florida has scored 15+ runs in the Pat McMahon era.
  • Ten players made their Gator debut.
  • Five Gators recorded their first career hit (Justin Tordi, Stephen Barton, Matt Cresap, Brett Dowdy, Matt Graziano).
  • Stephen Barton hit his first career home run (three-run HR in the bottom of the 6th).
  • C.J. Smith hit his first career home run (solo HR in the bottom of the 8th).
  • Adam Sanabria had four strikeouts in two innings in his debut.

 

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