Friday February 18, 2005Miami Rallies in the Ninth to Down Gators, 9-7
Second-ranked Miami battled back from deficits on four different occasions to overtake No. 15 Florida and remain undefeated, 9-7, on Friday night at McKethan Stadium. Sophomore Jon Jay scored on sophomore Danny Valencia’s suicide squeeze to take the ultimate advantage after Jay smacked a game-tying triple off senior Connor Falkenbach into the right-center field gap in the top of the ninth to score Ryan Braun.
Jay finished the evening 3-for-4 with four RBI, a double, a triple and a run scored. Falkenbach (0-1) took the loss in relief, tossing three innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on eight hits. He struck out five and walked none to drop the Gators to 3-2 on the season. The Hurricanes improved to 8-0 and look to start the season with nine consecutive victories tomorrow at noon in the middle game of the weekend series.
The Hurricanes reached UF junior starter Alan Horne for a run in the first. Junior Danny Figueroa got the evening started with a double to left centerfield and moved to third on an infield single to short by his brother, senior Paco Figueroa. The elder Figueroa then stole second with junior Ryan Braun at the plate and the Miami third baseman followed with a sacrifice fly to center that pushed Danny Figueroa across the dish and Paco Figueroa to third. Horne settled down and got the final two outs of the inning via a strikeout and a fly out, escaping with only a 1-0 deficit.
The Gators went down quietly in the first, but came back with three runs in the second. Sophomore Matt LaPorta led off with an infield single to third and advanced to second on a wild pitch with sophomore Brian Jeroloman at bat. The Orange and Blue catcher walked to bring up junior Justin Tordi, who laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance both runners. Small ball paid off as the hot-hitting sophomore Brian Leclerc stroked a two-run single to right field, giving UF a 2-1 lead. The Gators were able to tack on an unearned run with two outs, when freshman Brandon McArthur hit a chopper to third that Braun threw away, allowing Leclerc to score all the way from first.
UM evened the score when freshman Walter Diaz worked a four-pitch walk to lead of the third frame for the Hurricanes. Horne retired the next two hitters, but was unable to get the third before the ‘Canes touched him for two runs. Braun singled to left to advance Diaz, then Jay lifted a ball over junior Stephen Barton’s head in left for a two-out, two-run double, tying the affair at three.
Florida reclaimed the lead in the home half of the third with one swing of the bat. On a 2-0 offering from Miami junior starter Cesar Carillo, LaPorta jacked his second dinger of the season into the leftfield bleachers for the first home run allowed by the UM starter in 14 innings pitched this season.
Miami tied the game in the fifth thanks to some heads-up baserunning. Paco Figueroa started the frame with a double off the wall in left and moved to third on a one-out single by Jay. With runners at the corners, Jay got caught in a run down as he left first before Horne committed to the plate. As Figueroa danced off third, Jay forced the Gators to get him in a run down long enough for Figueroa to score and remain safe at first. Jay was then erased at second as he got caught attempting to steal by Jeroloman.
After being held in check in the fourth and fifth stanzas, the Gators re-established a one-run cushion in the bottom of the sixth. Tordi led off with a two-bagger down the left field line and came around to score when Leclerc smacked a one-hopper to second that Diaz could not handle for an error. Junior Andy Davis’ sacrifice bunt moved Leclerc to second, followed by an Adam Davis infield single, leaving runners at first and third and two men down. Davis was the final batter for Carillo as junior Andrew Lane relieved to set up the lefty-lefty match-up with Barton. The pitching move turned out to be a successful one as Lane retired Barton on a strikeout swinging to end the Gator threat.
Carillo finished with 5.2 innings pitched, surrendering five runs (three earned) on six hits. The junior right-hander from Chicago struck out five and walked one, while hitting two batters en route to earning the no-decision. Still, UM improved to 22-0 in games that Carillo worked.
Miami came right back and re-claimed the lead from Florida in the visitor’s half of the seventh. Falkenbach relieved Horne to begin the inning and allowed a leadoff single to right by Danny Figueroa. Paco Figueroa followed with a bunt hit to first, barely eluding the tag attempt by LaPorta. Braun then looped a single into shallow left to load the bases. Jay followed with a sacrifice fly to deep center, driving in Danny Figueroa from third and advancing Paco Figueroa to second. With runners on the corners and one down, the ‘Canes again forced the Gator defense to make a play. Braun was safe at second for a stolen base and Paco Figueroa scored when the relay throw got away from Davis at second. Falkenbach struck out the last two batters of the inning, ending the frame with the ‘Canes ahead by a 6-5 count.
Once again, LaPorta’s big bat was a big factor in answering Miami’s offense in the bottom of the seventh. Corsaletti started the frame with a lined single to center to chase Lane and junior reliever Jon McLean entered the game to face LaPorta. The Gators’ first baseman blasted the first pitch he saw from McLean over the bleachers in left for his second round-tripper of the game, giving the Orange and Blue a 7-6 advantage.
For the fourth time in the contest, Florida could not hold the lead. With one out in the ninth, Braun lined a single to left and Jay followed by smoking a ball into the right center field gap for a triple, driving home Braun. Jay’s fourth RBI on the night marked the third different time his hit tied the contest. Sophomore Danny Valencia was safe at first on a perfectly executed suicide squeeze to plate Jay for the lead. UM tacked on another run after Valencia stole second and scooted home on sophomore Roger Tomas’ single to right.
Horne earned his second no-decision on the 2005 campaign after battling through six innings, giving up four runs on nine hits, while striking out five and issuing one free pass.
The top four hitters in the Miami lineup were the difference in the ballgame as they combined for 14 of the Hurricanes’ 17 base hits. Braun finished 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI and Paco Figueroa also had three hits, finishing 3-for-5 with two runs scored.
LaPorta broke out of his hitting slump with a 3-for-5 performance, with two home runs, three RBI and three runs scored. Corsaletti (2-for-4, one run) and Leclerc (2 RBI) aided the Gators’ offensive attack.