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Wednesday March 3, 2004Baseball Hangs On for 12-8 Victory Over Stetson

Gainesville, FL

The University of Florida baseball team (12-3) scored nine runs in the middle three innings and then held on to defeat host Stetson University for a 12-8 victory Wednesday evening in DeLand, Fla. The win ran Florida’s win streak to eight games.

The Gator six and seven hitters of Stephen Barton and Justin Tordi provided much of the offense as the pair combined to go 6-for-9 with five runs scored. Tordi was the big stick as he also drove in three runs and hit a two-run home run in the sixth to give UF the 11-4 lead.

Tied 4-4 entering the fifth the Gators broke the game wide open with a five run fifth and two more in the sixth to take the commanding 11-4 lead.

Florida benefited from poor pitching in the fifth as they scored twice on bases loaded hit by pitches and once on a bases loaded walk. The other runs were driven in on a Tordi single that brought home Brian Leclerc who earlier had singled and a RBI sacrifice fly from Ben Harrison. In the sixth Tordi worked the count full and hit a long ball over the left field fence with Barton aboard.

During the big fifth inning Stetson ace Cy McCuen was removed with the bases loaded as he earned the loss to drop to 3-1 on the season. McCuen went 4 ˝ innings and gave up seven hits and six runs (four earned) with three walks and three strikeouts.

After McCuen was taken out the Hatter relief pitchers could not get the job done as Brandon Berlett did not get an out but gave up the single to Tordi, walked a pair of batters and hit one scoring three runs. The second reliever of the inning Ryan Heacox hit another batter and allowed the sacrifice fly.

Stetson did threaten in the bottom of the sixth as they loaded the bases with one out. One runner scored on a RBI fielder’s choice by Brandon Paritz, which was the first out of the inning. But Darren O’Day came on and got a pair of infield pop outs that brought the teams to the seventh with Florida leading 11-5.

The teams battled back and forth early. UF scored a pair in the first to take the early 2-0 lead. The Gators used aggressive base running and took advantage of three Hatter errors to jump on the board first. With Adam Davis on second after a fielder’s choice and failed pick-off attempt Harrison hit a shot to the third baseman which was thrown away. Davis wheeled all the way from second and scored which allowed Harrison to move to second. He later came home with the second run as C.J. Smith hit a RBI infield single. Harrison read the throw to first perfectly and came home in time.

Stetson scored single runs in each the first two frames to knot the game at two. Florida starter Matt Fuchs got into trouble in the first after a walk and single by Paritz. After an out, back-to-back singles by Chris Westervelt and Jon Still scored the first run. With the bases still loaded and only one out, Fuchs struck out the six-hitter and got a groundout to end the inning.

In the second Brian Bocock reached on a fielding error and came home on a RBI fielder’s choice groundout by Paritz.

Stetson took their first lead of the game in the third as two runners crossed home plate. John Destefano led off the inning with a base hit and advanced to second on a walk. The walk knocked Fuchs out of the game as Connor Falkenbach came on in relief. An infield single and ensuing throwing error allowed both runners aboard to score. Falkenbach did work out of the no out jam as he got a pair of groundouts and strikeout.

Falkenbach would continue and earn the victory to improve to 4-0 this season. He would pitch 3 1/3 innings and give up four hits and one run with three strikeouts. O’Day would earn his fourth save as he finished the game

Florida didn’t waste anytime to tie the game as they used some clutch at bats in the fourth to score a pair. Smith led off the inning with a full count walk. Barton singled through the right side and Smith moved to third on the single. Smith would later score on a wild pitch while Barton scored on a push bunt single by Ryan Kennedy.

The final Florida run came in the seventh as Harrison hit a two-out single. Leclerc took advantage and hit an RBI double to left center.

Stetson did add three runs in the eighth as Paritz added another RBI and Joey Wilson had a two RBI single to right.

The Gators will be back in action when they host a three game series with Purdue University, Friday, March 5, at 6:30 p.m. Florida is slated to start Justin Hoyman (3-0) in that game.

NOTES:

  • Florida and Stetson were meeting for the first time in DeLand since the 2001 season.
  • With the five run fifth Florida has scored five runs in an inning six times this season.\ The home run for Tordi was his first in 125 at bats dating back to April 13, 2003.
  • The Gators have hit a home run in eight consecutive games.
  • The attendance of 2,248 was the sixth largest in Melching Field history.
  • The win snapped a two-game losing streak to the Hatters in DeLand.
  • Florida started the game with five freshmen in the stating lineupp.
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