Friday March 28, 2003Baseball Comes Back to Defeat Vols 5-3
A sacrifice fly off the bat of Jake Riordan scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth as the University of Florida baseball team (20-6-1, 3-3-1) opened a three-game set with Tennessee with a 5-3 victory. Florida scored twice in each the seventh and eighth innings for the two-run victory.
The Gators loaded the bases in the deciding eighth inning after Ben Harrison and Brian Rose drew back-to-back walks. A Mario Garza single filled the bags as the Tennessee outfield and infield were drawn in. Riordan lined a 1-0 pitch to right as Harrison beat the throw home for the game winner. The Gators tacked on an insurance run with an RBI single by Justin Tordi that scored Garza.
Florida reliever Conner Falkenbach earned the win (3-1) after pitching four stellar innings allowing only one hit with four strikeouts and no runs. Falkenbach came on in the sixth after starting pitcher Adam Sanabria (0-2) threw 5.0 innings, giving up six hits and three runs while walking two and striking out two.
Tennessee starting hurler Ben Riley worked into the seventh inning as he did not allow a base hit after giving up a pair of singles in the first. Riley did walk six and hit a batter but the Gators could not capitalize again until the seventh when they pushed across two runs.
Riley walked the first two batters of the seventh and Justin Tordi’s sacrifice bunt put both runners in scoring position when Riley was removed. Florida didn’t waste any time taking advantage of the Vols bullpen as Brett Dowdy hit a two-run double off reliever Joey Andrews to tie the game.
The Gators jumped on the board first as the third hitter of the first C.J. Smith singled to left. That was followed by a Harrison walk and Rose brought home the first run of the game as he singled home Smith with a line shot to right center.
Tennessee scored in the second to even the game after two innings. Chad LeGate doubled and Justin Branson hit a sacrifice fly to score the first run. In the fourth the Volunteers took their first lead as Brian Cleveland and LeGate each hit solo homeruns that gave the Volunteers the two run edge.
Florida had five hits but benefitted from eight walks as Dowdy had two RBI for the Gators and Brian Cleveland had three hits for the Volunteers.
The two teams continue the series Saturday at 3 p.m. at McKethan Stadium. Tomorrow’s game is the SEC-TV Game of the Week as it will be televised by Fox Sports South and the Sunshine Network with Dave Neal and Nick Belmonte calling the action.