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A two run home run by Ben Harrison proved to be the difference as Florida held on for a 4-3 win.

Saturday June 5, 2004Baseball Moves to Championship Day with 4-3 Win Over UCLA

Oklahoma City, Okla.

A two run home run by Ben Harrison proved to be the difference as Florida held on for a 4-3 win.

A game ending double play moved the University of Florida baseball team (42-20) into the championship game of the NCAA Regional on Saturday as the Gators knocked off No. 3 seed UCLA 4-3. Connor Falkenbach pitched a complete game and limited the Bruins to the three runs on 10 hits in running his record to 10-6.

UF will play the winner of UCLA and Oklahoma on Sunday at 5 p.m. ET for a chance to move into Super Regional play for the first time in the history of the program.

UCLA would threaten on Falkenbach in the ninth as the Gator coaches faced the decision to leave the junior in or go to the bullpen. After a pair of singles by the Bruins Brandon Averill and Billy Susdorf the Florida staff would let Falkenbach remain in the game to finish what he started. The move would pay off, as Falkenbach would get Brett McMillan to ground into a 4-6-3 double play on his second pitch to the hitter, which ended the game.

Florida would tag Bruin starter Wes Whisler for four runs including the decisive three in the fifth. Ben Harrison would hit the game winner in that frame with a two-run home run. Harrison would finish 2-for-3 while Brian Leclerc doubled and went 2-for-4 at the plate for the Gators.

Florida manufactured a run in the first as wildness on the part of Whisler allowed the Gators to score the first run of the contest. Whisler retired the first two batters before hitting C.J. Smith and Harrison on back-to-back pitches. Jeff Corsaletti singled up the middle bringing home Smith for the first run of the contest.

The Bruins got the run back in the second as Preston Griffin led off the inning with bouncing single up the middle. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and came home on a two strike single by Mike Svetlic.

Both pitchers would settle in and the teams would be scoreless until the fifth when the Gators took the 4-1 lead. Jonathan Tucker went the opposite way with a one out single through the right side. Tucker stole second on a strikeout and then came home as Smith drove a pitch into left center as the Gators took the 2-1 advantage. Harrison followed Smith and took the first Whisler offering into the grass in left center for his 17th home run of the season.

UCLA would cut the lead to the single run by responding with two in the bottom of the fifth. Susdorf led off the inning with a solo shot to left center but the Bruins would not stop at that point. McMillan singled and went to second on a fielder’s choice and to third on a flyout. Griffin then picked up the RBI with a shot to the left that easily plated McMillan and made the score 4-3 in favor of Florida.

It would remain that way for the final four innings, as Falkenbach would retire 12 of the final 14 batters in the complete game victory. Nine of the 10 hits he allowed were singles as he coaxed 15 ground ball outs in the 131-pitch effort.

Whisler fell to 3-5 with the loss on the mound as Susdorf went 3-for-5 for UCLA.

QUOTES:

Florida head coach Pat McMahon –

"That was one heck of a college baseball game. Those were two teams that really battled their hearts out. We were just more opportunistic offensively and once again we pitched and defended very well against an outstanding UCLA team."

"We were trying to decided to leave Connor in, but I looked into eyes and knew that he wanted the ball in his hand. I know he will throw the ball in the strike zone and he did that today."

Florida senior Ben Harrison -

On winning the first two games of the regional

"We cannot lose focus of the task at hand. I am going to go back and talk to these guys and make sure that we are ready to play tomorrow. We look at it as having one game tomorrow."

 

NOTES:

  • With the home run Ben Harrison moved into sole possession of second place in the Florida career record books with his 40 career long balls. He trails first place Brad Wilkerson who had 55 home runs in his three year career … Harrison also singled in the fourth to run his hit streak to a career best 13 games … With his two hits Harrison has 21 multi-hit games this season.
  • Falkenbach’s complete game was his second straight after 70 appearances without a complete game … Falkenbach now has thrown 119.0 innings this season and 196 and 2/3 in his career … The complete game effort was Florida’s eighth of the season … With his 34th appearance of the season Falkenbach has 72 in his career which is tied for eighth all-time while the 34 in 2004 is the eighth most in a season by a Florida pitcher.
  • Florida improved to 13-6 in one run games this season … Eleven of Florida’s last 14 games have been decided by two or less runs
  • The Gators went errorless for the 14th time this season and for the sixth time in the past 12 games … UF is 9-5 this season when it does not commit an error.
  • Florida started a regional 2-0 for the first time since advancing to the College World Series in 1996 … It was just the fourth time in school history that Florida started a regional with two wins … The Gators improved to 50-36 all-time in regional play.
  • C.J. Smith had 12 putouts to up his season total to 447 and career total to 952 which is fourth all time.
  • Justin Tordi had six assists and now has 225 this season, which is the fourth most ever in a single season by a Florida player.

 

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