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Saturday February 12, 2005Ninth-Inning Heroics Lift Gator Baseball to First Win, 3-2

Gainesville, FL

Junior Daniel Brooks’ single to right center field in the bottom of the ninth scored classmate Justin Tordi with the winning run as the Florida baseball team notched its first victory of the 2005 season with a dramatic 3-2 triumph over Charleston Southern on Saturday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. Now even at 1-1, the Gators and Buccaneers (2-4) will close the three-game set tomorrow at 1 p.m.

"Our guys worked hard and showed great composure today," said UF Head Coach Pat McMahon. "We’ll keep taking steps. Although we jumped out to a lead, we kept pressing and Charleston Southern had to play catch up. We have great respect for them and thought they pitched very well. We are looking forward to tomorrow."

Tordi started the ninth with a double down the left field line off of Buccaneer reliever Josh Evans (0-1) and advanced to third on an infield hit by freshman Jared Kubin. With runners on the corners and none out, Brooks calmly stepped to the plate following a long conference on the mound and delivered the game-winning knock for his third career run batted in.

Junior reliever Darren O’Day earned the victory after taking the loss in 11 innings during the first game of the series on Friday night. O’Day (1-1) stymied the Buccaneer bats over two scoreless innings, allowing only two base hits while walking one and striking out two.

Junior starter Alan Horne earned a no-decision in his Florida debut after hurling six strong innings. The right-hander from Marianna, Fla., limited CSU to one run on five hits while walking one and striking out six in his first action in a Division I contest in nearly two years. He departed with UF holding a 2-1 lead entering the seventh.

"I thought Alan competed very well," said McMahon. "He threw with good movement and what pleased me was that he threw well toward the end of the game."

Florida opened the scoring in the home half of the first, hoping to erase the memories of a long, sloppy game from the night before. Senior Stephen Barton laced a one-out double to the left centerfield gap to start things off. Senior Jeff Corsaletti drew a base on balls from senior Ian Holmen and the two baserunners executed a double steal with sophomore Matt LaPorta at the dish. The Gators’ first baseman earned free pass to load the bases for hot hitting sophomore Brian Jeroloman. The Wellington, Fla., native produced the first run of the game with a grounder to first that scored Barton.

Charleston Southern attempted to answer in the top of the second but LaPorta, making only his third career start at first base, snuffed out any ideas of a Buccaneer rally with a tremendous defensive effort. With one out and a runner aboard at first, senior Jay Reynolds hit a pop-up in foul territory down the first baseline and LaPorta laid out to make an amazing catch. He then scrambled to his feet and fired a laser to second base to nab the runner trying to advance to end the inning.

CSU struck for a run in the sixth to knot the score at 2-2. Senior Billy Dalton lined a single to left field and was moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by senior Brad Woods. On a 1-2 pitch, senior Jordan Haar smashed a double over the head of Corsaletti in center and Dalton crossed the dish for the first Buccaneer run of the day. Horne ended the sixth stanza and his day by whiffing senior Brian Sole, his fifth K on the afternoon.

UF wasted no time in reclaiming the advantage in its next turn at bat. With one down, Corsaletti blooped a single into left field and moved up to second on a wild pitch. Following a walk by LaPorta and a flyout by Jeroloman, Tordi stroked a single into left to push Corsaletti across the dish. Once again, the Gators were unable to tack on any additional runs and held a one-run cushion heading into the seventh.

In a reversal of roles from Friday night’s contest, the Buccaneers were the ones to tie the game twice after trailing by a run. The first batter faced by senior reliever Mike Pete in the seventh, sophomore pinch hitter Jason Rose, blasted an 0-1 offering into the left field bleachers to tie the affair at three. Pete then settled down and retired the Bucs in order to finish the frame.

Tordi was 2-for-4 with a double, a run scored and an RBI. Making his collegiate debut, Kubin also went 2-for-4 with two singles. For CSU, starter Holmen battled for 6.2 innings, throwing 117 pitches, and surrendered only two runs on four hits while walking five and striking out two. Haar went 3-for-4 with a double and a run batted in to bring his series average to .500 (5-for-10). Junior Bryan Ball will take the hill tomorrow for the Gators in the rubber game of the series.

Game Notes:

  • An errant pickoff attempt in the third inning by Alan Horne was the seventh error committed by UF this season. It took the Gators six games in the 2004 season to commit seven errors.
  • Horne’s last Division I college game was on March 7, 2003, against New York Tech while he attended Ole Miss. In that contest, he pitched six innings and earned the victory.
  • UF turned two double plays on the afternoon, both thanks to CSU’s Jay Reynolds. He popped into a double play in the fourth and grounded into a double play to end the ninth.
  • Daniel Brooks’ last RBI came on March 17, 2004 against Army.

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