Sunday May 9, 2004Baseball Takes First Series at Bama Since 1988 with 6-5 Win
A late eighth inning four run rally lifted the monkey off the back of the University of Florida baseball team (36-13, 16-8 SEC) as the Gators knocked off Alabama 6-5 in the rubber game of the series between the teams Sunday. The 2-1 series win for the Gators is the first series victory in Tuscaloosa since 1988. The game was ended following the eighth inning due to the SEC Sunday curfew rule on teams travel arrangements.
Florida had trailed 5-2 entering the eighth and had only two base hits in the previous three innings but received clutch at bat after clutch at bat in the eighth to pick up the one run victory.
Florida had one base runner aboard with two outs and no runners across when the rally started. An Adam Davis singled was squeezed between a pair of Florida outs. Another single by pinch hitter Matt LaPorta through the right side brought the tying run to the plate. The Tide then made a costly error that could have ended the inning but a wild throw by third baseman Evan Bush kept the inning alive with the bases loaded.
Florida then got two huge clutch at bats to take the lead. The first came from Jonathan Tucker who worked the count to 2-2 before singling up the middle bringing home two and putting the tying run at third. The next Florida batter Stephen Barton fell behind 0-2 in the count but got four straight balls and walked to reload the bases. C.J. Smith then became the second Gator to deliver as he singled through the left side of the infield on a 1-1 pitch which the tying and go ahead run. Florida would end up sending 10 batters to the plate in the deciding eighth inning.
Clutching to a 6-5 lead Florida closer Darren O’Day, who came into the game in the seventh, walked and hit a batter in the bottom of the inning to put the tying run on second. But, with two outs he got a ground out appropriately enough to Smith at first base to end the contest.
O’Day ran his record to 6-1 on the season as he did not give up a hit over his 1 and 2/3 innings and walked one and struck out one.
Alabama reliever Jeffrey Norris was the hard luck loser as he gave up the four unearned runs and six hits with four walks and a strikeout.
The two teams starting pitchers kept the game scoreless through three innings as the Gatos worked pitch counts early. The Gators had base runners in each of the first three innings but left three runners aboard through three.
Florida drew five walks against Alabama’s Taylor Tankersley in the first four innings but did not capitalize on the free passes until the fourth. With one out the Gators Jeff Corsaletti and Davis drew back-to-back walks. Justin Tordi then drove home Corsaletti with the first run of the game with a sharp single to left field on a 0-2 Tankersley pitch.
Tankersley would only make it past one more Florida batter as his first pitch to the ninth batter Ryan Kennedy went for a passed ball. Davis hurried home from third and with the safe call on the close play at the plate Tankersley was immediately ejected for arguing after laying down the tag. Florida would draw two more walks in the inning to lead the bases but could not extend the 2-0 lead.
Alabama would quickly respond in taking a 3-2 lead and knocking Bryan Ball out of the game with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. The Crimson Tide first four batters of the inning all had singles with the fourth single by Michael McCallister driving in two runs. Following a ground ball double play coaxed by reliever Connor Falkenbach, David Ferazza drove home the third run of the inning. Ferazza singled home Matt Grooms with a seeing eye single through the right side.
The Tide added insurance runs in each the sixth and seventh innings to take a three run lead at 5-2 entering the eighth. In the sixth Grooms doubled with one out and later came home on a safety squeeze from Greg Paiml. In the seventh Allen Rice tripled with one out and came on fielder’s choice by Gabe Scott who picked up the RBI.
Smith ended the game with three singles for the Gators while Davis scored twice and had a pair of hits.
Florida will be back in action on Wednesday night when it hosts in-state rival Florida State at 6:30 p.m.