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Saturday May 29, 2004Baseball Eliminated from SEC Tourney After 6-5 Loss to Vandy

Birmingham, AL

An RBI single in the 12th inning off the bat Matt McGraner was the difference as Vanderbilt University pulled out a 6-5 extra inning victory over the University of Florida baseball team (40-20) on Saturday ending the Gators SEC Tournament run. Florida took a 5-3 lead in the top of the 11th but could not hang on for the victory as Vandy rallied.

The two teams traded the lead three times in the first three innings and six times in the contest. Vanderbilt took a 3-2 advantage after three and the game would stay that way until the top of the ninth when the Gators tied the score on some clutch at bats.

Adam Davis led off the final inning with a bunt single to first base. After a strikeout, Ben Harrison doubled in the tying run with his line shot to right center field that tailed away from the Vanderbilt center fielder. He would advance all the way to third after an error but Commodore reliever Ryan Rote got a strikeout and a flyout to end any further threat.

UF seemed to take control of the game in the 11th with a pair of runs against Rote. Davis started the rally with a single up the middle and after a strikeout the Gators staged a two out rally. Harrison was intentionally walked in favor of Stephen Barton who laced a single to left center scoring Davis with the go ahead run. Brian Jeroloman then gave Florida a two-run cushion with his single to the right center gap that scored Harrison.

Vanderbilt tied the contest in the bottom of the inning and then used McGraner’s heroics to win the contest. In the 11th, Warner Jones hit a two out double to right center that scored Aaron Garza and Zach Zimpson. Garza had hit a one out double and Simpson was pinch running for Jonathan Douillard who had been walked by Florida reliever Bryan Ball. Back-to-back singles by Tony Mansolino and Garza in the ninth set up the winning hit for McGraner.

Florida would use four pitchers in the game including starter Darren O’Day who would keep the game under control in his 6 and 1/3 innings of work. He gave up three early runs and then kept Vanderbilt scoreless before the game was handed over to the bullpen. O’Day would throw 94 pitches and give up nine hits and three runs with one walk and five strikeouts.

Ball would pitch 4 and 1/3 innings of relief and give up two earned while Steven Porter took the loss on the mound as had gave up one run in his 2/3 of an inning. He fell to 1-3 on the season with the loss.

Vanderbilt’s Jensen Lewis earned the win as he pitched an inning in relief and faced just four batters in running his record to 6-4.

The Commodores jumped on top right away as Ryan Klosterman led off the bottom the first for the Commondores and hit a solo home run down the left field line that just stayed fair. In the second Florida would take advantage of some wildness on the part of Vanderbilt starter Matt Buschmann and score two runs in taking the 2-1 lead.

Harrison was walked to lead off the inning before he moved into scoring position on a fielder’s choice groundout. Matt LaPorta was hit by a Buschmann pitch before Brian Leclerc singled home Harrison and LaPorta moved up two bases to third. Justin Tordi then executed a perfect safety squeeze scoring LaPorta and giving Florida the one run lead.

The Commodores regained control with two runs of their own in the third off O’Day. Vanderbilt would receive RBI singles from Antoan Richardson and Mike Baxter in the inning. Douillard would lead off the inning with a single and advance to second on a fielder’s choice groundout. He came home on a single by Richardson and Baxter brought home Richardson two batters later with his single up the middle.

The Gators had 10 hits in the contest and Ryan Kennedy went 2-for-5 with a double and Davis was 2-for-5 with two runs scored.

Florida will wait to see if they will host a regional in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Regional sites will be announced Sunday, May 30 at 3:10 p.m. ET on ESPN. The bracket announcement will take place Monday, May 31 at 12 p.m. ET live on ESPN2.

QUOTES:

Florida head coach Pat McMahon –

"This was an outstanding collegiate baseball game. Both teams left it out on the field and I am so proud of my team. I am disappointed we did not secure the lead once we had it but obviously you have to give credit to Vanderbilt for coming back the way they did"

"I know that we are a relentless team as can be seen by all of the close games we play. Vanderbilt is very well prepared and well coached. I just think you saw relentlessness out of both clubs and it shows the effort that this team has given. That is a great characteristic to have."

 

NOTES:

  • By scoring two runs in the second the Gators snapped a 21.0 straight scoreless inning streak by Vanderbilt pitching… The Commodores also had kept opponents scoreless for 19.0 consecutive innings in the SEC Tournament.
  • Darren O’Day made his first career start after 45 straight career relief appearances …He was the eighth different pitcher to start a game for Florida this season.
  • UF was playing their ninth extra inning game of the season and second of the tournament …The Gators fell to 5-4 in extra inning contests and 12-6 in games decided by one run.
  • Ben Harrison ran his hit streak to a season and career best 11 games with his double in the ninth inning.
  • Florida played seven true freshmen in the game while four started.


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