Tuesday March 8, 2005Gator Baseball Downs UNC Asheville, 8-1
Freshman Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.) notched a career-high six strikeouts and limited UNC Asheville to one run and three hits over six innings as Florida posted a 8-1 victory over the Bulldogs on Tuesday night in front of 1,418 fans at McKethan Stadium. The southpaw (2-0) was backed by a 3-for-3, two-run, two-RBI performance by junior Justin Tordi (Orlando, Fla.) and a 3-for-4, three-RBI effort from sophomore Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.), not to mention a four-run seventh inning. Senior Connor Falkenbach (Parkland, Fla.) hurled three scoreless innings with four K to earn his second save for the Gators (12-3).
"Stephen (Locke) has great composure, comes well-prepared and has great mound presence for a freshman," said Pat McMahon. "We were able to manufacture and produce runs tonight and Brian (Jeroloman) certainly got our offense going with his home run."
With Tordi aboard in the bottom of the second inning courtesy of a one-out single, Jeroloman belted his second homer of the season over the right field wall for a 2-0 Gator lead. Freshman Jared Kubin (Oakton, Va.) roped a double into right center off Bulldog freshman Chris White and junior Stephen Barton (Miami, Fla.) earned a two-out free pass to put runners on the corners. Sophomore Adam Davis (Fort Myers, Fla.) sent a deep drive to center that freshman Tony Campana tracked down for the final out.
UF added another run in the third on an RBI single into center field with two down by Tordi that scored senior Jeff Corsaletti (Port Charlotte, Fla.). Corsaletti walked to start things off and moved to second a wild pitch before White retired sophomores Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) and Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) on consecutive strikeouts. Jeroloman punched a base-hit into right to push Tordi over to third and then stole second base. Kubin earned a base on balls to fill the sacks but junior Daniel Brooks (Tampa, Fla.) flew out to hold the margin at 3-0.
Junior Nathan Durham put UNCA on the board when he sent Locke’s 2-0 pitch into the left field bleachers for a solo homer with one down in the fourth to narrow the gap to 3-1. Florida had a prime opportunity to pad its cushion in the fifth against sophomore reliever Chris Nigro. LaPorta walked to begin the frame and raced over to third on Tordi’s third hit of the evening, a single up the middle. However, Nigro induced an inning-ending 3-6-3 double play from Jeroloman to preserve the two-run deficit.
Falkenbach relieved Locke to begin the seventh and was greeted by an infield hit by Durham. The right-hander fanned Whited and then Jeroloman caught Durham stealing after a rundown between first and second base for out number two. Falkenbach finished off the Bulldogs by catching sophomore Evan Dawson looking at strike three.
The Orange and Blue broke the game open with four runs on three hits and a UNCA error to build a 7-1 lead in the bottom of the stanza. After Corsaletti laced a one-out single and LaPorta followed with a walk, Leclerc stepped to the dish and stroked an RBI single into right to score Corsaletti and move his teammate to third. Tordi dragged a bunt and LaPorta dislodged the ball from the catcher to score UF’s fifth run. As a result of the play, Leclerc wound up on third and Tordi occupied second. Another RBI base-hit by Jeroloman boosted his club’s lead to 6-1 and chased Nigro from the mound. Junior Ryan Stewart uncorked a wild pitch to bring Tordi across with the final run of the inning.
A sacrifice fly in the eighth by Corsaletti scored Barton with UF’s eighth run. Barton had walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch and taken third on a passed ball. Florida wound up with a 9-4 advantage in hits, while Durham accounted for three of his squad’s hits. The Gators and Bulldogs will close the series tomorrow at 6:30 p.m.