Saturday March 5, 2005Gator Baseball Rallies to Edge Villanova, 6-5
Eighth-ranked Florida overcame a 5-2 deficit with four runs in the seventh inning to seize a 6-5 victory over Villanova on Saturday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. The triumph enabled the Gators (10-3) to even the weekend series with the Wildcats (5-2-1), setting the stage for tomorrow’s rubber game that starts at noon.
Sophomore Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) tied the game with a two-out, two-run double and classmate Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) poked a go-ahead single into center field as UF notched its 100th win at home during Pat McMahon’s four-year tenure. Junior Bryan Ball (Punta Gorda, Fla.) improved to 3-0 with a seven-inning effort in which he gave up seven hits and three earned runs, while junior Darren O’Day (Jacksonville, Fla.) threw two scoreless innings to collect his first save. Florida was out-hit by Villanova for the second day in a row, 8-7.
The Gators opened the scoring in the first on a two-out RBI single into left field by LaPorta that plated classmate Adam Davis (Fort Myers, Fla.). Davis had dragged a bunt up the third base line and moved into scoring position with his fourth stolen base of the season. LaPorta swiped second base for his first theft of ’05 and Leclerc drew a walk before VU sophomore Mike Loree struck out junior Justin Tordi (Orlando, Fla.) to end the frame.
Villanova answered in the top of the second on a three-run homer over the left field wall by senior Alan Day. Junior Jeremy Hunt led off with an infield hit and junior Jim Gillin earned a free pass from Ball before Day cranked a 2-2 pitch out of the yard for his second four-bagger of the campaign to move the Wildcats ahead, 3-1. Freshman Ryan Arcadia stroked a one-out single into left and stole second before Ball caught senior Mark Cardillo looking on strikes for the second out. Molloy’s grounder to second base was misplayed, allowing Arcadia to come across with an unearned run.
The visitors increased their lead to 5-1 in the fifth on a ground-rule double by freshman Derek Shunk. Ball struck out Cardillo to begin the inning but a passed ball allowed the Wildcat to reach base. A sac bunt by Molloy pushed his teammate to second and Shunk delivered a double into left center that bounced once and then over the wall.
Sophomore Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) reached on a throwing error to begin the home portion of the fifth before Loree recorded back-to-back strikeouts of freshman Jared Kubin (Oakton, Va.) and junior Daniel Brooks (Tampa, Fla.). Junior Stephen Barton (Miami, Fla.) narrowed the gap to 5-2 with a double into right center and took third on a balk. Loree induced a groundout by Davis to end the inning.
UF loaded the bases with one out in the sixth but came away empty-handed when Jeroloman grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. Senior Jeff Corsaletti (Port Charlotte, Fla.) had punched a leadoff single to left and Leclerc’s Texas Leaguer dropped into shallow center to put the Gators in business. Loree hit Tordi with a pitch to load the bases before the rally was clipped.
For Villanova, Loree departed after throwing 113 pitches over six full innings in which he scattered five hits and two runs (one earned), with four K and two walks. The Gators erupted for four runs in the seventh, highlighted by a two-run double by LaPorta to the contest at 5-5 and a base-hit by Leclerc that moved the hosts in front. Brooks had earned a one-out walk from VU junior reliever James Baxter and raced down to second on a wild pitch. Barton was hit by a pitch and Davis drew a base on balls to fill the sacks for the Gators for the second-straight inning and chase Baxter.
Corsaletti greeted junior Ted Aust (0-1) with a sacrifice fly to deep center field to score Brooks and LaPorta belted a game-tying double into left field despite first base being open with two outs. Leclerc followed with a single up the middle to help Florida regain the advantage. After sophomore Nate Hall entered the game, Leclerc was later safe at second on Tordi’s fielder’s choice but was gunned down attempting to take third.
LaPorta and Leclerc chipped in with two hits apiece for UF, while Day (three RBI) and Hunt were 2-for-4 to lead Villanova’s offensive charge. Senior Tommy Boss (Dunnellon, Fla.) (2-0, 6.00 ERA) will take the hill tomorrow for Florida against freshman Kevin Mulvey (0-0, 8.64 ERA).