Sunday May 1, 2005No. 18 Vols Take Rubber Game from No. 3 UF, 7-2
Behind a complete game by sophomore Craig Cobb and a 14-hit attack, No. 18 Tennessee claimed the rubber match of its series at No. 3 Florida with a 7-2 win at McKethan Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The right-hander limited the Gators (31-12/14-7 SEC) to six hits and two runs to help the Vols (32-14/12-8 SEC) move to within 1.5 games of Florida in the Eastern Division race. Cobb (5-2) threw 123 pitches, notched five strikeouts and issued four walks in firing the first complete-game versus the Gators this season.
UT banged out 42 hits and scored 27 runs during the series in taking two of three meetings against Florida for the second year in a row. Junior Michael Rivera (3-for-5, two runs) led five Vols with multiple-hit outings, a group that included junior Josh Alley (2-for-5, two RBI), freshman J.P. Arencibia (2-for-4, RBI), freshman Julio Borbon (2-for-5) and senior Eric King (2-for-4, two RBI).
Although Tennessee put its first two runners aboard in the second against junior Bryan Ball (Punta Gorda, Fla.), it was not able to open the scoring. Junior Chase Headley drew a leadoff walk and Borbon beat out a bunt before King laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners into scoring position. However, Ball set down senior Rob Fitzgerald (flyout) and junior Michael Rivera (groundout).
Sophomore Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) started the bottom of the inning with a free pass from Cobb and advanced on a bunt by freshman Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.). The right-hander induced groundouts by Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) and junior Justin Tordi (Orlando, Fla.).
Ball plunked Arencibia to begin the fourth and a fielder’s choice by Headley forced the runner at second. Borbon sliced a one-out double down the right-field line to push Head to third before Ball worked out of the jam with a strikeout of King and a groundout by Fitzgerald.
The Vols used a RBI double to left in the fifth by Alley and a two-out single by Arencibia to draw first blood for the third-straight time in the series. Rivera stroked a base-hit up the middle to open the frame and was sacrificed to second by senior Alex Suarez. Alley then connected on a 0-2 pitch from Ball for his team-leading 16th two-bagger of the season. Ball had junior Eli Iorg fly out to right before Arencibia delivered a single to right field to score his teammate with the second run.
In the bottom of the inning, Jeroloman laced a leadoff double but Tordi popped up a bunt to Cobb for the first out. Junior Stephen Barton (Miami, Fla.) walked on four pitches before Cobb had senior Jeff Corsaletti (Port Charlotte, Fla.) tap into a inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Tennessee seized a 5-0 lead in the sixth on three runs and four hits. King lined a single to left and took second on a balk by Ball, prompting a pitching change. Ball (5-2) worked 5.1 innings, giving up six hits and three runs, in his second start since April 1. Fitzgerald drew a walk from freshman Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.) and Rivera punched a single to load the bases with one down. Suarez stepped to the plate and roped a two-run single into shallow center field to give the Vols runners on the corners and Alley had a bunt single to score Rivera and chase Locke. Senior Connor Falkenbach (Parkland, Fla.) came out of the bullpen and had Iorg ground into a 6-4-3 double play to close the frame. The appearance was the 104th of the right-hander’s career, matching John Pricher (1989-92) at the top of the school’s list.
The Orange and Blue countered with two runs in the bottom of the inning on Leclerc’s 10th homer, a two-run shot that caromed off the scoreboard overlooking right field. Sophomore Adam Davis (Fort Myers, Fla.) had drawn a one-out walk and Leclerc put Florida in the scoring column with two outs. It the only offense for the Gators on the afternoon against Cobb.
Arencidia started the seventh with a double to left center, ending the afternoon for Falkenbach (0.2 IP, one hit). Headley poked a single off freshman reliever Tommy Wynn (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) for runners on the corners. The right-hander induced a ground ball from Borbon that forced Headley at second and Arencidia was caught in a rundown that resulted in the second out. Junior Darren O’Day (Jacksonville, Fla.) had King fly out to right to keep the margin at 5-2.
Iorg started things off in the ninth with a double and moved to third on a balk from O’Day. The righty caught Arencibia looking on strikes and walked Headley before being replaced by sophomore Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.). The reliever struck out Borbon on a bunt before King smashed a two-run double to increase UT’s lead to 7-2.
The Gators will conclude their season series with No. 15 Florida State on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. at McKethan Stadium. The squads split their meetings at Dick Howser Stadium, with UF taking a 9-2 decision on March 30 and the Seminoles collecting a 4-2 win on April 19.