Sunday May 18, 2003Baseball Closes Out Regular Season With 7-5 Loss
In the final regular season game of the season the University of Florida baseball had their SEC Tournament chances erased as Kentucky came out victorious 7-5 at McKethan Stadium Sunday afternoon. Kentucky erupted for five runs in the eighth inning and Florida could not capitalize in the late innings to make a comeback.
Florida jumped out on top 4-2 in the sixth after Brian Rose hit his 12th homer of the season off the scoreboard in right field. Brett Dowdy led off the inning with a single and was sacrificed to second before the heroic homer that put UF ahead.
Kentucky had a two-out rally in the eighth with the big blow coming from Brad Pickrell who hit the game-winning grand slam to the right field bleachers. With two outs, the bases became loaded after a walk to Mike Breyman, a single by Caleb Stewart and a hit by pitch to Caleb Brock. Pickrell then took relief pitcher Darren O’Day’s 0-1 pitch over the fence for his eighth homer of the season. Kentucky would take a 6-4 lead on the homer and hung on for the victory. The Wildcats would add their seventh run in the eighth after Ross Rutherford doubled home Jesse Barber who had earlier walked.
Florida mounted a rally in the ninth after C.J. Smith led off the inning with a single. After a pair of outs, Jonathan Tucker doubled in the right center field gap scoring Smith, but Tucker attempted to stretch the double and was thrown out at third on the play.
O’Day took the loss for the Gators as his record dropped to 3-3. He would pitch 2.1 innings and give up three hits and four runs with a walk. UF starter Connor Falkenbach would pitch outstanding but received a no decision. The sophomore would go 5.0 innings plus and give up four hits and two runs (one earned) with no walks and a strikeout.
Florida had jumped out on top 2-0 in the first after back-to-back triples by Brett Dowdy and Jeff Corsaletti gave the Gators the early 1-0 edge. Corsaletti would later score on a Kentucky wild pitch giving Florida the 2-0 lead.
Falkenbach was perfect for the first three innings retiring the first 11 batter he faced until Kentucky struck with two outs in the fourth. Mike Breyman’s solo homerun cut the Florida lead in half. The Cats’ then tied the game at two in the sixth when Casey Gilven came home after doubling and reaching third on a passed ball. He then came home on a failed pick off attempt at first base.
Kalen Gibson earned the victory on the mound for Kentucky. He would pitch the final 3.1 innings and give up just three hits and one run with a walk and two strikeouts.
For Florida at the plate, Dowdy would finish just a homer shy of the cycle as he had three hits and scored twice. Stewart had a pair of hits for the Wildcats including a double.
The Gators end the regular season 34-19-1 overall and 13-16-1 in the SEC. The Gators also became just the seventh team in school history to win 30 games at home.