Saturday February 19, 2005Gator Baseball Evens Series With UM, 2-1, in 11 Innings
Sophomore Adam Davis scored the winning run on a dropped fly ball with two outs in the 11th inning, to complete a 2-1 Florida victory over Miami (Fla.) on Saturday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. Sophomore Brian Jeroloman plated the game-deciding run when he popped a bases-loaded, 1-2 pitch by UM senior reliever Brandon Camardese into shallow left field that bounced in and out of sophomore Jon Jay’s glove for an error.
Florida led most of the matinee 1-0 until the second-ranked Hurricanes (8-1) tied the game up in the ninth on a Jay double to left. Junior Darren O’Day earned the victory as he worked 4.2 innings in relief for the No. 15 Gators (4-2) to snap UF’s five-game skid against UM and hand the ‘Canes their first loss of the 2005 campaign. Miami had not dropped a regular-season contest since a 2-0 setback to North Carolina on May 16, 2004.
In the first two games of the series, the archrivals have battled back and forth until the final out was recorded. "I think that we are similar ballclubs, as we work on commanding the last three innings," noted Florida head coach Pat McMahon. "You have to compliment both teams for an outstanding college baseball game."
After last night’s wild affair, claimed by UM, 9-7, courtesy of a three-run rally in the ninth stanza, Florida’s starting pitcher Bryan Ball and Miami’s starter Dan Touchet engaged in an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel. Ball did not allow a run and gave up five hits, while striking out four and walking one in six sterling innings pitched and Touchet nearly matched the Gators’ starter with one-run, six-hit ball over seven innings. He struck out five and walked two.
"Bryan pitched well and competed very hard. Today’s effort is absolutely defined as a quality start. I’m very proud of the way he pitched," McMahon added.
After being held without a hit through their first three innings, the Gators were able to get on the scoreboard in the fourth. Senior Jeff Corsaletti led off with a lined single to right to extend his hitting streak to six games. Sophomore Matt LaPorta got jammed on the next pitch by Touchet, but was able to muscle the ball into short left field to bring up Jeroloman. The Florida catcher laid down a bunt, but it bounced right to Touchet, who was able to get the lead runner at third.
Junior Justin Tordi stepped to the dish and picked up his teammate with a double down the left field line to plate LaPorta and give the Orange and Blue a 1-0 lead. Jeroloman tried to score from first but was cut down at home with a strong relay throw from sophomore shortstop Roger Tomas for the second out of the inning. Touchet escaped further damage by having sophomore Brian Leclerc ground out to short.
Miami threatened in the top of the seventh, but was unable to push across a run off the Gator pitching staff. Junior Ryan Braun smashed a leadoff double to left center field, ending the impressive afternoon of Ball. Sophomore Steven Porter came out of the bullpen to face Jay and the move worked out well, as the lefthander from Ocoee, Fla., retired the Hurricanes’ left fielder on a strikeout looking.
"Steven did a great job getting a big out with the lefty-lefty match-up," said McMahon.
Jay was the only batter that Porter faced, as O’Day trotted in from the bullpen to face right-handed swinging Danny Valencia. Before he even threw a pitch, O’Day was charged with an error when his pick-off attempt at second was wide of the bag, allowing Braun to move to third. The righty escaped further trouble by striking out Valencia swinging and getting freshman pinch-hitter Danny Robitaille on a fly out to right to retain the 1-0 Florida advantage.
After not capitalizing on several chances earlier in the ballgame, Miami converted on a scoring opportunity in the top of the ninth. For the second outing in a row, the top of the order for UM led off the frame and provided the spark. With one out, Paco Figueroa and Braun hit back-to-back singles to set the table for Jay. Jay then slugged a double in the left-center field gap off of O’Day, driving in Pago Figueroa for his fifth RBI in the series to tie the game at a run apiece. O’Day then intentionally walked Valencia to load the bases, but induced two ground balls to stop the Hurricane threat.
To start the 11th frame, Davis worked a one-out base on balls from sophomore Ricky Orta and moved to second when sophomore Gavin Dickey smoked a single to left. Corsaletti advanced the runners with a ground out to first and LaPorta was issued an intentional walk to fill the sacks. Camardese, the victorious pitcher in Friday’s opener, came on to face Jeroloman. Jeroloman popped up a 1-2 offering from the left-hander that was dropped for an error by Jay in left field allowing Davis to cross home for game-winning run.
"Today was an important contest to see how our guys would respond after a tough game last night," concluded the Orange and Blue skipper. "The fans were treated to two fantastic college baseball games."
Florida had eight different players gather hits, led by LaPorta who finished 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored. Miami once again got solid production from the top of its order, as Danny Figueroa (2-for5), Braun (2-for-5) and Valencia (2-for-3) each turned in multiple-hit performances.
The in-state rivals will play the rubber match of the weekend series tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. at McKethan Stadium. Senior Tommy Boss (0-0, 4.50 ERA) will take the mound for the Gators and square off against the Hurricanes’ Chris Perez (2-0, 2.45 ERA).