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Tuesday February 25, 2003Baseball Wins Thriller 13-12 Over South Florida

Gainesville, FL

The University of Florida baseball team used a three-run homer off the bat of Ben Harrison in the eighth to tie the game and Jake Riordan scored a single run in the 14th to claim a 13-12 victory over South Florida at home. The two teams were tied at four different times in the game.

The winning run crossed the plate in the bottom of the 14th when Riordan led off with a single and stole second base. Justin Tordi, who drilled a homerun in the bottom of the 13th to tie the game for the fourth time, drove Riordan in with a single to center field.

"The resilience that we showed at the end of the game was the difference," said head coach Pat McMahon. "We had numerous individuals who contributed at some point during the game and that is what I like about our ballclub."

The Florida rally in the eighth started after back-to-back singles from Jonathan Tucker and Mario Garza. Harrison then tied the game at 11 when he deposited a Tim Madison pitch over the left field bleachers. In an anti-climatic top of the ninth the Bulls loaded the bases with one out before relief pitcher Tommy Boss got a double play lineout that shortstop Justin Tordi turned to end the inning.

South Florida chased Florida starting pitcher Mike Pete with a six-run surge in the second inning to give the Bulls an early 6-0 lead. Kris Howell started the inning with his first career home run. Ronnie Hardley, Travis Brown and Make Choquette reached base on a double to center field and two singles to left, respectively. Mike Cunningham was hit by a pitch and Bryan Hertmeier singled to right. A double play and a Darren O’Day strikeout of Howell ended the seven-hit, six-run inning for the Bulls.

The Gators rallied back in the third inning to tie the game at six. They started the inning with three straight singles from Stephen Barton, Tordi and Brett Dowdy. Tucker reached on a fielder’s choice and all runners were safe on the play after a dropped ball on a forceout. Garza made the Bulls pay as he hit a grand slam to left center field to bring the Gators within one. The Gators tied the game with a C.J. Smith double to left field and a Bulls’ error.

Florida claimed the lead for the first time in the game in the fourth inning. Tordi doubled to right and later scored on a Tucker singled. Garza continued a stellar night with a double down the left field line which put two runners in scoring position. UF then took a two-run advantage on a wild pitch.

One run in each the fifth and sixth innings for South Florida brought the game to its second tie of the night. A Handley homerun in the fifth cut the Bulls deficit in half then Jeff Bailey singled in a run which evened the game.

Two runs by South Florida in the seventh pulled the Bulls ahead once again. Handley doubled, Choquette walked, and Cunningham and Hiertmeier singled in runs to give the Bulls a two-run lead. Handley hit his second homer of the night in the eighth for a 11-8 Bulls lead.

Tom Potter (1-0) got the win in relief in the longest outing of his career, surrendering just one run with six strikeouts in five innings pitched. Paul Griffin (1-1) recorded the loss, giving up two runs on five hits in two innings of work. The two teams combined to throw 11 pitchers.

The Gators return to action Saturday at 4 p.m. when Florida hosts Siena.

NOTES

  • The Gators gave up their first homerun in 144 opponent at bats in the second inning as South Florida’s Kris Howell hit the first homer of his career.
  • Mario Garza had his first career grand slam in the third inning.
  • Jonathan Tucker ran his hit streak to a career-best ten games with a single in the fourth inning.
  • Florida gave up 24 hits to South Florida – the most given up by the pitching staff all season.
  • Florida did not commit an error for the third time this season.
  • The two teams combined for 50 hits – a new Florida school record and tied for 10th most in NCAA history.
  • Tonight’s game is the longest in innings since the Gators went 14 innings with Mississippi State in 2001.

--UF--

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