Sunday June 1, 2003Baseball Ends Season with Three Run Loss at Miami
The University of Florida baseball team (37-21-1) had their season come to a halt as Miami held on for a thrilling 13-10 victory in the championship game of the Coral Gables Regional. The Hurricanes jumped out to a 12-3 lead and then held off a late Florida push in the final four innings.
Depleted by pitching, Florida would use five different hurlers as Miami took advantage of playing one less regional game. The Hurricanes would finish the game with 19 hits as they held off a pesky Florida team that stormed back late.
"We have a bunch of fighting Gators who left it all on the field," said head coach Pat McMahon. "This team fought all year long and just came up short in the end."
Mario Garza would stay hot as he went 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored. He finished the regional 14-of-19 (.737) with 12 RBI in being named to the all-tournament team. Also named to the team were catcher Brian Rose and outfielder Stephen Barton. Miami pitcher J.D. Cockroft was named the tournament MVP after pitching a one-hit shutout in the Canes’ 1-0 victory over Florida Atlantic on Saturday.
The Hurricanes scored single runs in each the first and second innings to take an early two run advantage. Danny Figueroa scored the first run of the contest after walking and advancing to third on a sacrifice and a stolen base. Following another walk and the second out of the inning, Figueroa came home on an error. Figueroa also drove in the Canes second run in the second after he singled home Erick San Pedro who had earlier doubled.
Florida tied the score at two in the bottom of the second after a double by Ben Harrison was followed by an RBI double from Garza. C.J. Smith tied the game with a single down the left field line that brought home Garza.
Five runs in the third gave Miami the momentum as they seized the lead. Brian Barton drove in the first run of the inning with a single through the middle that scored Ryan Braun. A double by Joey Hooft plated another run before the big blow provided by Richard Giannotti. Giannotti would take relief pitcher Tom Potter’s 0-1 pitch and hit a three-run homer into the left field.
The Hurricanes increased their lead to 9-2 after an RBI triple by Braun in the fourth. Braun later scored on a fielder’s choice groundout off the bat of Barton.
Florida would storm back after Miami increased their lead even more. A single Florida run in the fifth came home on a wild pitch. Miami did respond by adding three runs in the sixth. Barton added to his big day with an RBI double while a two RBI single by Gabby Sanchez pushed the Hurricanes advantage to 12-3.
The Florida rally would come via the home run as the Gators cut the deficit to 12-8. Garza and Harrison would hit back-to-back homers to lead off the Florida sixth. After a walk to Smith, Jeff Corsaletti joined the long ball action as he blasted a shot over the right field wall. Florida would not quit there as Justin Tordi doubled following the home run barrrage. After he advanced to third on a groundout, Jonathan Tucker would pick up an RBI with a base hit thorough the hole in the left side of the infield. Florida had a chance to close the gap even more in the inning but with runners on first and second and one out the Hurricane defense turned a double play to end any further threat.
The two teams traded runs in the bottom of the seventh and top of the eighth to keep the margin at four. Florida scored after consecutive singles by Harrison and Garza. Harrison moved up on a fly ball to the outfield and then scored on a wild pitch. Miami tacked on a run on an RBI single from Figueroa.
Florida tacked on another run in the ninth but would not severely threaten in the inning. Rose reached on an error and advanced to second on the play. He then moved ahead a base on a wild pitch and came home on a RBI groundout from Harrison. Miami’s Shawn Valdes-Fauli then retired the final two batters of the inning and the game to end the season for UF.
Valdes-Fauli picked up the win as he went the final 3.2 innings for the Hurricanes and gave up two runs with four strikeouts. Tommy Boss took the loss for Florida as he pitched 0.2 innings and gave up three runs. Freshman Bryan Ball would hold late for Florida as the Gator offense rallied. Ball would pitch the final four innings and give up just a single run with a career best seven strikeouts.
"We fought hard and persevered," said McMahon. "Miami is a very talented team and tough to beat at home. I am just really proud for what our guys accomplished all season long."
Also for Florida Harrison had three hits and three runs scored while Corsaletti had a double and homer with a pair of RBI.
Miami advances to the Super Regional and will face North Carolina State in the best of three series this weekend.