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Wednesday February 15, 2006Mercer Knocks Off No. 1 UF Baseball, 3-2

Gainesville, FL

Mercer overcame a 2-1 deficit with two runs in the sixth inning and the Bears’ bullpen held top-ranked Florida scoreless for the final six innings on its way to a 3-2 triumph on Wednesday night at McKethan Stadium. Mercer’s (5-2) trio of relievers, senior Josh Young (3.0 IP, 1 H, 6 K), senior Hunter Abercrombie (2.0 IP, 1 H) and senior Andrew Urena (1.0 IP, 2 K) kept the Gator offense in check as the hosts dropped to 3-1 on the season.     

 

The Bears took advantage of a two-out error in the first inning to seize a 1-0 lead. Senior Sean McCahill drew a leadoff walk from sophomore Michael Branham (Tampa, Fla.) but was erased at second on a fielder’s choice by freshman Tyler McCarty. Branham caught junior Andrew Einert looking on strikes and junior Josh Thompson followed with a walk. Senior Shawn Barrett’s grounder was then misplayed, allowing McCarty to score the game’s opening run.

 

Sophomore Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) replaced Branham (1.0 IP, 3 BB) with a runner aboard in the second frame and retired all five batters he faced. The right-hander was also helped that inning by junior catcher Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) gunning down junior Eric Renfroe as he attempted to steal second. It was the first stolen-base try by an opponent this season against UF. 

 

Florida plated a pair of unearned runs with two down in third to take a 2-1 advantage. Junior David Cash (Odessa, Fla.) opened the frame with an infield hit and was sacrificed into scoring position by senior Chris Woods (Gainesville, Fla.). Junior Adam Davis (Fort Myers, Fla.) grounded out to short to advance Cash and junior Brian Leclerc’s (Clearwater, Fla.) grounder was mishandled to tie the game. With Leclerc perched at third after hustling on the error, junior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) gave the Gators the lead with a hard RBI single. Jeroloman followed with a base-hit off junior Blake Quarles (3.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 ER) and sophomore Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) walked to load the sacks. The southpaw responded with a punchout of senior Stephen Barton (Miami, Fla.) to end the inning.

 

In the fourth, Barrett launched a one-out double off freshman reliever Matt Hightower (Cartersville, Ga.) and an infield single with two down by Renfroe put runners on the corners for the Bears. The lefty worked out of the jam by having sophomore Billy Shaughnessy ground out to Cash at third.

 

Mercer moved in front in the sixth, 3-2, with two runs on three hits. Sophomore Mike Armstrong started things off with a pinch-hit single and Thompson launched a ground-rule double over the fence in left center field. Barrett tied the game with a base-hit into left, prompting a pitching change for Florida, as junior Kris Gawriluk (Deltona, Fla.) replaced Hightower (2.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R). Junior Josh Lowey dropped down a sacrifice bunt up the first-base line to bring Thompson across with the go-ahead run before the right-hander retired Renfroe and Shaughnessy.  

 

McCahill walked with one out in the seventh and stole second base, his fourth theft of the campaign. After Gawriluk induced a foul pop-out by freshman Steve Karwatt, senior Darren O’Day (Jacksonville, Fla.) came out of the bullpen to fan Armstrong. O’Day threw 2.1 scoreless innings and totaled five K. 

 

Cash led off the home portion of the seventh with a single up the middle, ending the night for Young. Woods greeted Abercrombie with his second sacrifice of the game to move Cash over before the southpaw set down Davis and Leclerc on back-to-back flyouts to preserve Mercer’s one-run lead. 

 

Jeroloman roped a one-out double in the eighth to right field and took third on McArthur’s grounder. Abercrombie walked junior pinch hitter Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) and shortstop Shaughnessy made a diving stab of junior Gavin Dickey’s (Tallahassee, Fla.) grounder to force Pride at second with the final out of the inning. Urena entered the game in the ninth and put down the Gators in order to collect his first save.

 

Mercer out-hit Florida, 6-5, with both Barrett and Thompson going 2-for-3. Cash and Jeroloman were 2-for-4 to lead the Orange and Blue. The Gators next head to Coral Gables for a weekend series against No. 16 Miami (6-3). Senior Bryan Ball (Punta Gorda, Fla.) (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will start Friday’s opener at 2 p.m.

 

Game Notes

  • Tonight was the first time Florida trailed all season.
  • Stephen Barton was hit by a pitch for the 29th time in his career during the second inning, tying him with Justin Tordi for third on the Gators’ list.
  • UF’s last home loss occurred May 15, 2005, against Mississippi State, halting a nine-game winning streak.
  • Both teams stranded eight runners.
  • Mercer had four extra-base hits, compared to one for the Gators.

 

-UF-

 

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