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Brian Rose had a monster day at the plate as he hit two homers in finishing with seven RBI.

Sunday June 1, 2003Baseball Goes to Championship Day After 22-14 Win

Gainesville, FL

Brian Rose had a monster day at the plate as he hit two homers in finishing with seven RBI.

A pair of seniors, Mario Garza and Brian Rose, wouldn’t let the season end as the two combined for 12 RBI as Florida baseball team (36-20-1) advanced to the Sunday championship round with a 22-14 victory over Florida Atlantic Saturday evening. Garza and Rose both hit two homers in the record setting postseason affair.

Florida advances to play the in the championship game against top seeded and host Miami at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. If Florida wins championship game one, a second game would be played to determine the Super Regional representative from Coral Gables. The game can be seen on Sunshine Network in selected areas including the Gainesville region.

"I am proud of the way we battled and persevered," said Florida head coach Pat McMahon. "I think the key was that so many different guys contributed. When Florida Atlantic made a run we answered the call."

Rose hit a three-run homer and the first grand slam of his career in finishing 3-for-5 with seven RBI. Garza would go a perfect 5-for-5 with a pair of homers and five RBI in leading the Florida offense that provided 22 hits including seven for extra bases.

Florida jumped all over FAU and starting pitcher Chris Saxton in the first. The first two Florida batters in the bottom of the inning were retired before the two-out rally. Garza drew a four-pitch walk from Saxton setting up the first run of the game. A single by Rose moved Garza ahead a base and Stephen Barton knocked in Garza with line shot through the middle. Ben Harrison followed with a base hit through the left side of the infield scoring Rose for the second run of the contest. On the play Barton was thrown out at the plate after Owl left fielder Matt Pali threw all the way home and catcher Mike Murray tagged Barton out.

Florida Atlantic went scoreless in the first two innings before scoring six runs in the third. Florida starter Bryan Ball allowed just two base runners in his first two innings of work before the big inning. The rally was aided after the leadoff batter of the inning Murray reached on a wild pitch after striking out. After a flyout, Evan Brannon reached on an error which could have ended the inning.

The next hitter Derek Hutton provided a huge hit as hit a three-run homer on a 1-0 Ball pitch. Jeff Fiorentino and Rusty Brown followed with back-to-back singles setting up another three-run homer. This time Matt Pali took relief pitcher Adam Sanabria’s pitch over the right field wall. The homer gave Florida Atlantic a brief 6-2 advantage as Florida responded in a big way.

Florida would send exactly nine batters to the plate in three consecutive innings as they scored a combined 14 runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings to take a nine run lead. In the three at bats Florida would record 14 base hits including three home runs.

The Gators would score four of the runs in the third to tie the game at six through the first three frames. The inning began with a pair of singles by Brett Dowdy and Jonathan Tucker. Another single by Garza put runners at the corners as Dowdy was thrown at the plate attempting to score. The next batter was Rose who hit a three-run shot for his 14th round tripper of the season. Later in the inning Jeff Corsaletti brought home Harrison who earlier had hit a bloop double into right field.

The Rose homer knocked Saxton out of the game as the junior went 2.1 innings and gave up seven hits and five runs with a walk and a strikeout. FAU would use a total of eight pitchers in the contest as Chris Della Rocco took the loss lasting just 0.2 innings. Della Rocca gave up two earned runs in falling to 2-1 on the season.

Florida reliever Tom Potter would shut down FAU bats as the Gator offense got some breathing room. The six run fourth would start with Tucker reaching on an error with one out. A single by Garza and a walk to Rose loaded the bases for Barton who picked up an RBI with a hit by pitch. Harrison then drove in a pair with a single to right and that was followed by a Corsaletti RBI single. C.J. Smith then rocked his 17th homer of the season, a two-run shot into left center.

Potter would pick up the win as he went 4.0 innings and gave up five hits and four runs with a walk and three strikeouts. The junior improved to 3-0 with the victory on the mound.

"Tommy Potter came through big for us in getting the game under control," said McMahon. "He stretched his innings and got us through those middle innings."

A three-run shot off the bat Garza added to the lead as it made the score 15-7 in the fifth. Garza had come to the plate after a Dowdy triple and Tucker was hit by a pitch. Barton was hit by a pitch for a second time in the game to continue the rally. After the second out, a pair of singles including an RBI line shot from Smith up the middle put UF ahead 16-7.

FAU would not go quiet as they added three runs in the sixth to cut into the lead. A solo homer by Tim Muscia with two outs provided the first run of the inning. Two batters later after a Brannon double, Hutton hit his second long ball of the game. Again Florida responded to the Owl rally as they scored twice more in the bottom of the sixth.

Dowdy reached on an error to start the inning. After the first out, Garza unloaded with his second homer of the game and 12th of the season as he continued his big day at the plate.

FAU made the game interesting cutting into the lead with four runs in the eighth. Hutton had an RBI single and Rusty Brown provided a two RBI single to put the Owls within reach at 18-14.

In the bottom of the frame Rose would put an exclamation point on the victory as he hit the grand slam. The big blow was set up after Dowdy walked, Tucker reached on an error and Garza singled.

For Florida, Harrison also had three hits and three RBI while Corsaletti had four singles and two RBI.

NOTES

  • Potter was making his first postseason appearance for UF.
  • Florida improved to 9-4 in 2003 against teams from the state of Florida.
  • Florida was hit by a pitch four times to raise their season total to a school record 81.
  • Florida set one individual and four team Florida postseason records.
  • The six runs scored by Garza also tied an all-time NCAA postseason for runs scored in a contest.
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