Sunday February 20, 2005Baseball Takes Series from No. 2 Miami, 14-11
Florida jumped out to a big lead and held back a Miami (Fla.) charge to take the rubber match of the weekend series, 14-11, on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. The No. 15 Gators (5-2) jumped out to a 12-2 lead after four innings before the second-ranked Hurricanes (8-2) rallied for five runs in the fifth and three more runs in the sixth to pull to within 12-10. However, the ‘Canes could not climb any closer as UF won a series against UM for the first time since 1996.
Senior starting pitcher Tommy Boss (1-0) battled through five innings to earn the victory that was preserved by strong work from the Gator bullpen by freshman Bryan Augenstein and senior Connor Falkenbach.
"Tommy did a great job throwing strikes and keeping the game under control for us," said Florida head coach Pat McMahon. "In the first inning we answered back with a couple clutch hits and answered the call, which was good."
In yesterday’s contest, won 2-1 by Florida in 11 innings, Miami did not score until the ninth inning. Today was a different story as the ‘Canes plated two runs in their first trip to the dish. Junior Danny Figueroa led off with a single off Boss’ glove and senior Paco Figueroa laid down a sacrifice bunt to move his brother to third after Danny stole second base. Junior Ryan Braun drove his teammate in with a sacrifice fly to right field. With two down, sophomore Jon Jay, who allowed yesterday’s winning run to score when he dropped a two-out fly ball in the 11th, came to bat. He responded with a lined single to center that skipped past a diving Jeff Corsaletti, permitting Jay to race around the bases and score the second run of the inning.
Florida answered in the bottom half of the first by putting six runs on the board by sending 11 men to the plate. The rally started thanks to wildness by the Hurricanes’ starting pitcher, sophomore Chris Perez (2-1). Sophomore Adam Davis took a free pass to lead off the frame and stole second with one out and Corsaletti at the plate. Corsaletti and sophomore Matt LaPorta drew back-to-back walks to load the bases for sophomore Brian Jeroloman. The Gator catcher was issued the fourth free pass of the inning to drive in Davis and cut the UM lead in half. Junior Justin Tordi followed with high-bouncing single over the head of Braun at third base to push Corsaletti and LaPorta across the dish and give the Gators a 3-2 advantage.
The Orange and Blue offense was not finished, as sophomore Brian Leclerc ripped a single to left centerfield to bring home Jeroloman as Tordi and Leclerc advanced to second and third, respectively, on the relay throw. The Gator right fielder was the last batter to face Perez, as senior Vince Bongiovanni came on in relief with freshman designated hitter Bryson Barber due up next. The lefthanded-swinging rookie from Pensacola, Fla., greeted Bongiovanni with a hard hit single to center field to score two more runs and make the score 6-2 in favor of Florida.
The Gators tacked on another run in the third inning, expanding their lead to 7-2. Freshman Brandon McArthur reached first with one out on a throwing error by shortstop Roger Tomas and advanced to third on a single to right by junior Stephen Barton. McArthur scored on a wild pitch by the third ‘Cane hurler of the afternoon, freshman Carlos Gutierrez, with Corsaletti at the dish.
UF added four more runs in the fourth to construct a 12-2 bulge. Jeroloman started the frame with his third walk of the ballgame and advanced to second on Leclerc’s second hit of the ballgame, a one-out single to center. Barber followed with free pass to load the bases and McArthur was hit by a pitch to plate Jeroloman. Still with one out, Davis laced a single to right-center to plate Leclerc and Barber. Davis’ second and third RBI on the season forced the third pitching change of the afternoon for Miami. Freshman lefthander Manny Miguelez relieved Gutierrez and walked the first three batters he faced, allowing Davis to score on a wild pitch before getting Jeroloman to strike out and Tordi to pop out to the catcher for the last two outs of the inning.
UF took advantage of 13 walks and two hit by pitches issued by the UM pitching staff as every Gator starter had either a walk or a hit through four innings. "You have to give credit to our players number one, but also coach (Brian) Fleetwood and coach (Tim) Parenton," added the fourth-year Gator skipper. "Battling pitch counts and extending at bats is an important part of our offensive scheme."
Miami narrowed the gap in the top of the fifth, plating five runs on six hits in the stanza. With one out, senior Brendan Katin hit a double into the right field corner and moved to third on a single to left by freshman Alex Garabedian. Freshman Walter Diaz followed with a single to right to push Katin across the dish and Garabedian to second. Danny Figueroa looped a single to left to fill the sacks and Paco Figueroa hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Garabedian for the second run of the inning. Braun came to bat next and the junior third baseman smoked a single to left to plate Diaz, bringing up Jay. The Hurricane left fielder blooped a double in front a diving Barton in left to push across Danny Figueroa and Braun. Braun barely beat the relay throw home and Jay was erased attempting to reach third to end in the Hurricane rally. It was a close play at the hot corner, resulting in the ejection of UM third base coach Gino DiMare.
Florida went down quietly in the bottom of the fifth and the Hurricanes took advantage of the Gators’ inability to pad their cushion. Freshman reliever Bryan Augenstein began the inning in place of Boss and allowed Valencia and Tomas to reach on a single and a walk, respectively. After striking out Katin for the first out, Garabedian slugged a two-run double to the gap in left. The Hurricanes tacked on one more run on a single to center by Danny Figueroa, concluding the three-run inning down by a 12-10 margin.
With two men down in the bottom of the sixth, LaPorta crushed a 1-0 pitch from freshman reliever Raudel Alfonso deep over the bleachers in left to stretch the Gator lead to 14-10. Corsaletti was aboard with a two-out single before the Gator first baseman hit his third round-tripper of the series and fourth on the season.
The two runs on LaPorta’s blast provided the Orange and Blue pitching staff with some breathing room.
"[The home run] was huge. No leads are safe in any games, especially with a quality opponent like Miami," added McMahon. "They are one of the best offensive teams in the country and by going up four put us in great position to win the ball game."
The Hurricanes scratched out a run off of the Gator bullpen in the top of the eighth. A one-out walk issued to Katin marked the end of the day for Augenstein with Garabedian due up. Falkenbach trotted in from the bullpen and induced Garabedian to ground to first, but LaPorta’s attempt to get the lead runner hit Katin in the back and trickled into shallow left field to leave runners on the corners. Diaz fisted a single into right to plate Katin for his second run batted in of the game. Falkenbach settled down and prevented further damage by striking out Danny Figueroa and getting Paco Figueroa to fly out to right.
The weekend set with the in-state rival became the highest-attended three-game series in McKethan Stadium history.
"I can’t express enough how much we appreciate the fan support this weekend," McMahon said of the 13,978 fans who strolled through the turnstiles. "It’s a tremendous asset to our program."
The Gators resume action on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. when they host Florida A&M. UF handed the Rattlers a 17-2 loss on Feb. 15.