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Saturday February 12, 2005UF Baseball Falls to Charleston Southern, 5-4, in 11 Innings

Gainesville, FL

Charleston Southern capitalized on six Florida errors, including three in the decisive 11th inning, to spoil the Gators’ 2005 season opener at McKethan Stadium on Friday night with a 5-4 victory. Junior right-hander Bobby Parnell, the fifth Buccaneer pitcher of the nearly four-hour game, worked 1.1 scoreless innings to improve to 2-1 for CSU (2-3). In falling in its season debut for the first time since a 14-5 defeat to Miami (Fla.) in 2001, UF was upended by the Bucs for the first time in eight meetings.

Junior right-hander Darren O’Day (0-1) was on the hook for the loss as the Orange and Blue’s defense let him down in his only inning of work. After CSU’s first batter of the inning struck out, senior Drew Grosse reached on a fielding error by third baseman Stephen Barton, who had taken over at the hot corner to begin the inning. A throwing miscue by sophomore second baseman Adam Davis on senior Billy Dalton’s ground ball left the visitors with runners on the corners and one out.

Senior Brad Woods came to the plate and hit what should have been an inning ending 1-6-3 double play. However, O’Day uncorked an errant throw into center field that allowed Grosse to cross the dish with the eventual winning run. The Gators rallied twice from a run down in their final at bat to tie the score, in both the ninth and 10th frames, but three times was not a charm.

In the home portion of the ninth, sophomore catcher Brian Jeroloman put hope in the hearts of the Gator faithful, who endured freezing temperatures, when he stepped to the plate to lead off the inning. Jeroloman sent right hander Nino Fasulo’s first offering of the frame deep into the chilly sky over the right field fence to knot the game at three runs apiece and send the contest into extra frames.

The Buccaneers re-claimed a one-run cushion in the 10th. Senior Jordan Haar beat out a routine grounder to short to start off the inning. After a fielder’s choice by sophomore Graham Maiden, senior Brian Sole drove a 2-2 pitch from senior reliever Connor Falkenbach into right center that barely eluded the reach of sophomore right fielder Brian Leclerc and allowed Maiden to score the go-ahead run. Falkenbach worked out of the jam and held the game at 4-3. The Parkland, Fla., native pitched well in relief, turning in six solid innings, giving up only two runs and registering six strikeouts.

The Gators answered again in the bottom of the 10th. Senior Jeff Corsaletti blooped a double into shallow right center field to lead off the stanza and moved to third on a flyout by sophomore Matt LaPorta to deep center field. Redshirt freshman Brandon MacArthur was hit by a pitch and Jeroloman walked for the third time to load the bases for the home team. Junior Justin Tordi then tied the ballgame at 4-4 with a high-bouncing single to right that plated Corsaletti. However, MacArthur was thrown out at home in his attempt to score from second, becoming the third Gator baserunner to be erased at the dish.

Both offenses were held in check through the first three innings. The Buccaneers threatened in the third but were unable to score. Senior Jay Reynolds led off the frame with a double down the third-base line. Following a strikeout, Reynolds moved to third on an infield single by Grosse, who then swiped second. However, the Gators escaped trouble as the defense bailed senior starter Tommy Boss out of the jam. Shortstop Billy Dalton hit a chopper to third and MacArthur cut down Reynolds at the plate with a bullet to Jeroloman. Although the next batter hit a drive to left center, Corsaletti tracked it down to squash the rally.

Boss was touched for two runs in the fourth as the Bucs got on the board first, again getting their leadoff man on to start the inning. Haar opened the inning with a single up the middle that was just out of Tordi’s reach. He then stole second for his first theft of the season, moved up to third on a single to left by Sole and came around to score on a ground single to right by senior Alan Bontya, a Gainesville native. The Bucs tacked on their second run as Sole scored on a fielder’s choice to short by Reynolds.

The Gators countered with a run in the bottom of the frame thanks to some wildness by Charleston Southern senior starting pitcher Brad Bissell. Davis lined a leadoff single to left and, after being pushed into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Corsaletti, Bissell threw consecutive wild pitches with LaPorta at the plate to score Davis. Bissell pitched well otherwise, keeping the Gators off balance for much of his 5.1 innings of work. The lefty permitted only one run on three hits, issued four walks and notched two K.

Falkenbach relieved Boss at the start of the fifth and immediately established his presence as he retired the Buccaneers in order. In four innings, Boss gave up two runs on six hits, with three punchouts and zero walks.

After getting two quick outs in the top of the sixth, Falkenbach found himself in some trouble. Bontya reached on a catcher’s interference call and moved to second on a hit by pitch. A single to left by redshirt freshman Keith Stewart provided the Bucs a 3-1 lead. Both runners advanced on a wild throw by sophomore left fielder Gavin Dickey. Falkenbach hit his second batter of the inning to load the bases, but wiggled out of the jam by inducing a ground ball to short.

The Gators narrowed the Buccaneer lead to 3-2 in the seventh. Jeroloman drew a leadoff walk and took second when freshman pinch hitter Bryson Barber earned a free pass in his first collegiate plate appearance. Barber collected the base on balls after Stewart dropped what would have been the final out of the inning on a foul pop-up behind home plate. The next batter, junior pinch hitter Stephen Barton, capitalized on the miscue by stroking a single to right that pushed Jeroloman across the plate. The inning ended when Barber ran through the stop sign by third-base coach Tim Parenton, got into a pickle and was nailed at home.

For Florida, Jeroloman finished the game 1-for-2 with a pair of runs scored, a solo homer and three walks. The duo of Haar (2-for-6) and Sole (2-for-5) turned in multiple-hit efforts for Charleston Southern, while Bontya chipped in with two runs batted in. The Gators will send junior righty Alan Horne to the hill tomorrow at 2 p.m., while the Bucs’ starter is undecided.

Game Notes:

  • Florida is now 51-39-1 in season openers, including 31-19-1 at home.
  • Head Coach Pat McMahon fell to 9-4 on opening day and is now 3-1 at UF.
  • Corsaletti’s finished with two sacrifice bunts, one more than his total from the 2004 season.
  • Jeroloman’s homer was the second of his career; the first came last season in the form of a walk-off grand slam against Northwestern on Feb. 28th.
  • No Gator batter had more than one base hit.
  • Charleston Southern is now 1-3 in the Sunshine State in ’05 following three defeats at Florida State.

-UF-

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