Sunday March 20, 2005Ole Miss Takes Series From Baseball, 3-2
No. 14 Ole Miss claimed the rubber match of its SEC-opening series with No. 6 Florida by notching a 3-2 victory at Oxford-University Stadium at Swayze Field in front of 3,180 fans on a chilly Sunday afternoon. Trailing 2-1 in the fifth, the Rebels (17-4/2-1 SEC) used a combination of two hits and a pair of sacrifice flies to defeat the Gators (16-6/1-2 SEC) in a series for the third year in a row. Junior Anthony Cupps (4-1) earned the win by limiting UF to four hits over 5.1 innings, while junior Matt Maloney worked three scoreless innings to collect his second save.
The Gators opened the scoring in the fourth on an RBI grounder by sophomore Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) that brought across sophomore Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.). Neither club had a hit until LaPorta poked a one-out single to right field and sophomore Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) followed with a double to left center. With runners perched on second and third, Jeroloman’s ground ball enabled UF to take a 1-0 lead.
Ole Miss answered in the bottom of the inning on a two-out RBI single by junior Brian Pettway to tie the game. Senior Cooper Osteen started things off with a single into left center and senior Tommy Boss (Dunnellon, Fla.) committed a balk before sophomore Chris Coghlan advanced his teammate with a grounder. Boss came through with a strikeout of junior Stephen Head and Pettway evened the score with a single to left field after an eight-pitch battle with the Gator hurler. The base-hit enabled Pettway to extend his hitting streak to 21 games, matching the Rebels’ school record.
Senior Jeff Corsaletti (Port Charlotte, Fla.) helped the visitors reclaim the advantage in the fifth by ripping a run-scoring double down the right-field line with two down. Sophomore Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee, Fla.) was plunked in the back on a 3-2 pitch from Cupp with two out and stole second base for his fourth theft of the season. Corsaletti then ended an 0-for-8 drought by ripping a double down the right-field line to move UF back in front.
The lead was short-lived though, as Ole Miss countered with two runs on two hits and a pair of sacrifice flies in the home portion of the frame to take a 3-2 lead. After sophomore Alex Presley led off with a single to right, freshman Zack Cozart tagged a double into right center to put the Rebs in business. Freshman Jon-Jon Hancock lofted a sacrifice fly to center to tie the game and senior Barry Gunther delivered a sac fly to the same spot to provide UM with the go-ahead tally.
Leclerc’s second hit of the game, a one-out single into left in the sixth, prompted head coach Mike Bianco to replace Cupps (5.1 IP, 4 H, 3 K, 2 R) with junior Tommy Baumgardner. The left-hander had Jeroloman tap into a 4-6-3 double play to get out of the inning. Boss (5.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 K) retired the first two Rebel hitters in the bottom of the sixth before issuing a walk to Pettway and being relieved by senior Connor Falkenbach (Parkland, Fla.).
Coghlan roped a double with one out in the eighth, signaling the end of Falkenbach’s time on the mound. Sophomore Stephen Porter (Ocoee, Fla.) came in from the bullpen and had Head ground out, pushing Coghlan to third. Following an intentional walk to Pettway, the southpaw issued a free pass to senior Miles Franklin to load the bases. However, Porter stranded three Rebels by fanning Presley.
Jeroloman stroked a two-out single to right field in the ninth but Maloney closed the door on the potential Gator rally by having junior Daniel Brooks (Tama, Fla.) line out to end the game. Leclerc was 2-for-3 to lead Florida, while six different players had one hit for the home team.
Florida will be back in action on Tuesday night when it hosts No. 22 UCF (23-4/5-1 Atlantic Sun) and former Gator head coach Jay Bergman at McKethan Stadium in a 6:30 p.m. contest. The Orange and Blue has not faced the Golden Knights on the diamond since May 11, 1999. UF’s next conference series will be against second-ranked South Carolina beginning next Friday night in Gainesville.