In front of 21,546 fans on Friday afternoon at Rosenblatt
Stadium, the University of Florida baseball team scored five runs in the
first six innings off Tennessee All-American Luke Hochevar
and held on to win the opening game of the 2005 College World Series, 6-4.
The Gators (46-20) improved to a perfect 6-0 in the NCAA Tournament and
handed the Vols (46-20) their first setback in NCAA
Junior Alan Horne (Marianna, Fla.)
(10-2) claimed his ninth-straight decision by limiting the Vols to one earned run over six innings. Senior Mike Pete (Brandon,
Fla.) threw two scoreless frames before
junior Darren O’Day
(Jacksonville, Fla.) recorded the final out for his
seventh save of the year.
The win was the first for a Florida team at the CWS since 1996 and put
it into the winner’s bracket to face the victor of tonight’s Arizona State-Nebraska
game on Sunday at 7 p.m. That contest will be aired live on ESPN2.
After Horne struck out the side to start the game, Florida drew first blood on an RBI fielder’s choice by
sophomore Brian Jeroloman
(Wellington, Fla.). Senior Jeff Corsaletti (Port
drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a throwing error by freshman
catcher J.P. Arencibia. A grounder by sophomore Adam Davis (Fort
pushed Corsaletti to third and sophomore Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.)
was hit by a pitch to give the Gators runners on the corners. Jeroloman’s ground ball to second base brought Corsaletti across with the first run and forced LaPorta at second before freshman Brandon McArthur’s (Seffner, Fla.)
fielder’s choice ended the inning.
UF had runners at second and third with one down in the
second but could not take advantage of the situation. Sophomore Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee,
Fla.) singled up the middle and junior Justin Tordi (Orlando, Fla.)
poked a double over freshman left fielder Julio Borbon’s
head. Hochevar responded by jamming junior Stephen Barton (Miami, Fla.)
on a pop-up to second and struck out Corsaletti.
mounted two threats in the third, it was not able to get on the board. Senior
Alex Suarez walked to begin the inning and junior Josh Alley lined into a
double play to Davis.
Senior Eric King legged out an infield hit and Arencibia
earned a base on balls. Horne had Chase Headley force Arencibia
at second with a grounder to end the stanza.
With one down in the bottom of the inning, LaPorta sent a 0-1 offering from Hochevar
into the left-field bleachers for a 2-0 Gator lead. The slugger’s 25th
round-tripper of the campaign tied Clemson’s Kris Harvey and Birmingham-Southern’s Adam Tucker for the top spot nationally.
The Vols put two more runners
aboard in the fourth but did not score. Senior Rob Fitzgerald walked with one
out before junior Michael Rivera flew out to right. Borbon
punched a single into right and Horne responded by having Suarez force Borbon at second with a grounder to Tordi
The Gators expanded their lead to 4-0 in the fourth on two
runs, one hit and an error. Tordi was hit by a
pitch with one out, Barton followed with an infield hit and Corsaletti walked to load the bases. A fielding error by
Suarez on Davis’
grounder to first allowed Tordi to score and LaPorta followed with a sacrifice fly to center for the
Helped by a UF fielding miscue, Tennessee narrowed the gap to 4-1 in the
fifth on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by junior Eli Iorg.
Alley drew a leadoff walk and King singled before a fielder’s choice by Arencibia forced Iorg at third
base. Soon after, Headley lofted a fly ball into left field that glanced off
Dickey’s glove to fill the sacks. Iorg plated King
with a sac fly and Horne answered with a punch-out of Fitzgerald to end the
Florida tacked on another run in the
fifth but was deprived of an even bigger frame when Iorg
of a potential grand slam with a leaping grab at the right-field wall. Sophomore
(Clearwater, Fla.) walked with one down, Dickey
stroked a base-hit into right field and Tordi
dragged a bunt to load the bases. A sac fly to right field by Barton made the
count 5-1 and Davis
tagged a 1-1 pitch deep to right that Iorg tracked
down in impressive fashion to strand the runners.
Jeroloman provided the Gators with a 6-1
cushion in the sixth when he cranked his eighth homer of the year over the
right-field wall. Iorg had taken away possible
extra-bases from LaPorta with another acrobatic
catch against the wall to start the inning.
Tennessee rallied with three runs on three
hits and a UF error in the seventh to cut the deficit to 6-4. Horne issued a
walk to Alley to start the frame and was replaced by senior Connor Falkenbach (Parkland, Fla.). King greeted the reliever with
a double down the left-field line to move Alley to third and Arencibia followed with an RBI grounder. Headley brought
the Vols within two runs with a two-run shot over
the wall in right, his 14th dinger of the campaign. After a groundout by Iorg, Fitzgerald stroked a base-hit into right and moved
into scoring position with his sixth stolen base of the season. Tordi committed an error on Rivera’s grounder to give UT
runners on first and third, ending the afternoon for Falkenbach
(0.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R). Senior Mike Pete (Brandon,
Fla.) came in and had junior
Kelly Edmundson force Rivera at second with a
ground ball to Tordi.
Hochevar allowed Dickey a free pass to
start the Gator seventh, prompting a Tennessee
pitching change. The 2005 SEC Pitcher of the Year allowed eight hits and six
runs (four earned), with five walks and three strikeouts. Tordi
executed a sacrifice bunt against sophomore Sean Watson to push Dickey to
second and Barton walked on four pitches. The right-hander whiffed Corsaletti and had Davis
tap out to second to prevent any runs from coming across.
The Gators loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth
inning via three walks off Watson, but Tordi
grounded into a fielder’s choice to third to end yet another scoring threat
That put the Gators’ total of runners left on base to 14 as the game entered the
Pete retired Headley on a comebacker
to begin the ninth, but a fielding error by Tordi,
his second of the game, put Iorg on base with one
out. Fitzgerald then laced a shot down to third base and freshman Matt Gaski (Greensboro, N.C.),
a defensive replacement, made a diving stop, got to his feet quickly and
fired a strike to second to force out Iorg. McMahon
then made his final pitching change of the afternoon, calling upon O’Day to close the door on the Vols. The right-hander had
Rivera ground out to Tordi, who flipped the ball to
covering second to end the contest.
Florida and Tennessee wound up with an identical total
of eight hits and left a total of 26 runners on base. For the Gators, Dickey
and Tordi chipped in two hits apiece, while LaPorta and Jeroloman each
drove in two runs. King was 4-for-5 and scored two runs for the Vols, while Headley was 2-for-5 and recorded two RBI. UF
and UT have now split four meetings this year.