Friday May 20, 2005Baseball Takes Opener at Vanderbilt, 5-4
Behind a gutsy performance by junior Alan Horne (Marianna, Fla.) and a five-run fifth inning, No. 12 Florida claimed the opener of its series against Vanderbilt with a 5-4 win at Charles Hawkins Field on Friday night. Powered by a solo homer from sophomore Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) and a grand slam by sophomore Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.), the Gators (36-18/18-10 SEC) remained in first place in the SEC and atop the Eastern Division with the triumph.
Horne (7-2) threw a season-high 142 pitches over 8.0 innings for his sixth-straight win before the duo of sophomore Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.) and senior Connor Falkenbach (Parkland, Fla.) closed out the Commodores (34-19/13-15 SEC). The save was the seventh of the year for Falkenbach, who stranded VU runners on first and third to end the contest.
Florida threatened in the second but could not push anything across. Sophomore Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) drew a walk to start things off and advanced on a one-out single into right by junior Stephen Barton (Miami, Fla.). Junior Jensen Lewis answered with consecutive strikeouts of junior Justin Tordi (Orlando, Fla.) and Leclerc.
Senior Jeff Corsaletti (Port Charlotte, Fla.) walked with one down in the third and took third on a base-hit into right by sophomore Adam Davis (Fort Myers, Fla.). Vanderbilt worked out of the jam in a strange fashion. As Jensen struck out LaPorta and Davis attempted to steal second, LaPorta was called for interference that resulted in an inning-ending double play.
Senior Antoan Richardson punched a leadoff single up the middle in the bottom of the inning and moved into scoring position with his 18th stolen base of the season. Jeroloman caught Richardson trying to take third base for his 33rd runner caught this year.
UF plated five runs on four hits, including a pair of home runs, in the fifth to build a 5-0 lead. Leclerc belted his 11th homer of the campaign on a 2-2 pitch from Jensen to begin the inning. Sophomore Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee, Fla.) followed with a single and Corsaletti laced a double down the left-field line to give the Gators runners on second and third. Following an intentional walk to sophomore Adam Davis (Fort Myers, Fla.), LaPorta launched his 22nd homer onto Memorial Gym overlooking left field. The grand slam was the second of the slugger’s career and gave him a team-high 66 runs batted in. LaPorta is now one dinger shy of the single-season school mark shared by Brad Wilkerson and Ryan Shealy.
In the bottom of the frame, the Commodores answered with four runs of their own on five hits and a Gator throwing error for a 5-4 deficit. At the outset, senior Matt Zeller, sophomore Aaron Garza and Richardson poked three consecutive singles off Horne to fill the sacks. A sacrifice fly to center by freshman Alex Feinberg brought home the first run and an errant pickoff throw by Horne enabled Garza to come across with the second run. Junior Rucker Taylor earned a free pass and junior Mike Baxter reached on an infield hit to load the bases again. Junior Brian Hernandez ripped a two-run single into center to pull Vanderbilt to within 5-4 and junior Warner Jones’ fielder’s choice to third forced Taylor for the second out before freshman Dominic De La Osa grounded to second to end the stanza.
Dickey smashed a one-out single in the sixth to end Lewis’ tenure on the mound. The right-hander (8-3) allowed seven hits and five runs with seven strikeouts and four walks over 5.1 innings. Sophomore Stephen Shao entered the game and set down Corsaletti and Davis. Vanderbilt mounted a two-out rally in the bottom of the inning, as Richardson and Feinberg connected on back-to-back singles. However, Horne would induce a flyout by Taylor to keep Florida in front.
Zeller smoked a leadoff single in the eighth and was advanced to second on a bunt by Garza. Richardson grounded out to first base to push Zeller to third before Horne jammed Feinberg on an infield pop-up for the last out. In the ninth, Davis roped a double into the left-field corner with one down and LaPorta was walked intentionally. A groundout by Jeroloman moved both runners into scoring position and Shao responded with by having freshman Matt Gaski (Greensboro, N.C.) fly out to left.
Taylor legged out an infield hit to third to begin the bottom of the ninth, prompting a Gator pitching change. Horne departed after throwing a season-high 142 pitches over eight innings. The righty scattered 11 hits and permitted four runs, with four hits and two walks. Porter came in from the bullpen and fanned Baxter for the first out before being replaced by senior Falkenbach. The sidearm specialist had Hernandez ground out to third to move freshman pinch runner David Macias to second. An infield hit by Jones gave the Commodores runners on the corners with two down but Falkenbach had De La Osa tap back to the mound for what wound up as the final out.
Davis and Dickey were each 2-for-4 to lead Florida, while Richardson was 3-for-4 for VU, which held a 12-8 advantage in hits. Florida will send junior RHP Bryan Ball (Punta Gorda, Fla.) (6-3, 2.92) to the hill tomorrow at 2:05 p.m. CT against Commodore freshman RHP David Price (2-4, 3.03).