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Mario Garza hit a two-run homer in going 2-for-3 with three RBI in the Gators 8-6 victory.

Saturday May 31, 2003Baseball Advances After 8-6 Victory

Gainesville, FL

Mario Garza hit a two-run homer in going 2-for-3 with three RBI in the Gators 8-6 victory.

A go-ahead three-run homer off the bat of Stephan Barton lifted the University of Florida baseball team (35-20-1) to a dramatic 8-6 win over Bethune-Cookman in an NCAA Regional elimination game. The Gators trailed 5-3 entering the sixth but rallied for the victory, which eliminated the Wildcats from the regional.

Florida advances to play the loser of the Miami/Florida Atlantic which is being presently played at Mark Light Stadium in Coral Gables. That game is slated to begin at 7 p.m. ET with the winner advancing to the championship round on Sunday afternoon.

"That was just an outstanding college baseball game," said Florida head coach Pat McMahon. "You have to give Bethune-Cookman credit because they really battled the entire game."

Florida took the lead for good in the top of sixth after Mario Garza walked and Brian Rose singled to left. Stephen Barton then stepped to the plate and worked the count fall against Mumba Rivera. After fouling off a pitch Barton hit his second homer in as many days, this one a three-run shot to right center field. The fifth homer of the season for Barton gave UF the 6-5 lead and they would not trail again in the contest.

"We had some real clutch at bats in key situations," said McMahon. "Those were critical to our success in the game."

Garza added insurance for the Gators as he hit a two-run homer in the seventh. Brett Dowdy led off the inning with a four-pitch walk. After a pair of outs, Garza hit his 10th homer of the season over the right field fence giving Florida the 8-5 advantage. Garza would finish the game 2-for-3 with three RBI.

Reliever Connor Falkenbach would then close the door late against Bethune-Cookman. Falkenbach came into the game with no outs and a runner on first after the Wildcats had cut the lead to 8-6 earlier in the inning. Falkenbach would manage to strikeout three straight hitters to end the inning and any further damage. Falkenbach also pitched a perfect ninth retiring three batters in order to earn his third save of the season.

After the first batter of the game struck out, Jonathan Tucker singled through the left side. Jeff Corsaletti followed with a bloop single that landed in front of the right fielder. Garza drove in the first run of the game with a chopper up the middle that brought home Tucker. A RBI sacrifice fly from Rose gave the Gators the early 2-0 lead after their half of the first.

Florida starter Tommy Boss cruised through the first two innings allowing just a single base hit. He retired the first two batters in the third before a hit by pitch to Brad Frick. Sebastien Boucher then tied the game at two with his first homer of the season. Bethune-Cookman would later knock Boss out of the game in the fifth as they scored three runs to take the lead.

The tie at two was short lived for the Wildcats as Rose took a 2-1 Mumba Rivera over the fence in the fourth. It was the 13th long ball of the season for the catcher who was leading off the inning for Florida.

In the three run Wildcat fifth, Frick again started the rally as he was hit by a pitch with one out. A single by Boucher put runners at the corners for John Gragg who doubled home Frick for the tying run. On the play Boucher was thrown out at home trying to score from first on a perfect relay throw from shortstop Justin Tordi. Rose was blocking home plate perfectly and took Tordiís throw and made the tag for the second out of the inning. The out would prove big as the next batter Roberto Rodriguez hit a two-run homer giving Bethune-Cookman a 5-3 lead. Following the homer, Florida lefthander Mike Pete would enter the game on the mound ending the day for Boss.

Boss would go 4.2 innings and give up seven hits and five runs with a strikeout. He would earn a no decision in his sixth start of the season. Pete would come on for Boss in the fifth and earn the victory. He would go 2.1 innings and give up four hits and one run in running his record to 5-2.

"I am real proud of our guys effort and determination," said McMahon. "Our will and determination showed throughout the game and came through for us in the end."

Tordi added a pair of doubles for the Gators, while four others had two hits each.

Rivera took the loss for the Wildcats as he gave up 10 hits and seven runs with four strikeouts in ending 6-5 on the season. Boucher had a pair of hits and two RBI for Bethune-Cookman.

 

NOTES

- Florida improved to 18-0 all-time against Bethune-Cookman.

  • Matt Maley made just his third start of the season and his first at first base.
  • Pat McMahon has used 39 different batting order this season.
  • UF raised their season home run total to 69 with the three homers in the contest.
  • Jonathan Tucker and Ben Harrison each extended their hit streaks to five games.
  • Eight of nine starting players in the Florida order had base hits.
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