Falkenbach Spins Gem

Connor Falkenbach stepped up to the challenge in a elimination game for the University of Florida baseball team (40-19) as the right hander pitched a three hit shutout as the Gators advanced with a 7-0 victory over Georgia (38-20) on Friday. Falkenbach faced just one batter over the minimum in the victory as Florida reached 40 wins for the 16th time in the history of the program.

UF will play seventh seeded Vanderbilt for the second time in the tournament on Saturday with first pitch set for 11 a.m. ET. The game will appear on Fox Sports Net and also the Sunshine Network.

Falkenbach would give up just three singles and did not walk a batter while striking out seven in improving his record to 9-6. The junior would retire 16 straight batters from the end of the third until he gave up a leadoff single in the ninth. He went to three ball counts just four times and got 11 groundouts and six fly outs while throwing 100 pitches. Georgia also did not a base runner reach second base as Florida turned a pair of double plays and Falkenbach picked off a runner at first.

The Florida offense would give all the support Falkenbach needed with four runs in the middle three innings. The Gators then expanded the lead to seven runs with three runs in the seventh.

His opposing pitcher on the mound Michael Hyle had a perfect game through three innings before the Gators broke it up in a big way in the fourth. After an out Adam Davis hit an infield single through the middle and beat out the throw from the second baseman. C.J. Smith then took a 0-1 Hyle pitch and went the opposite way for a two run home run giving the Gators the 2-0 lead. Ben Harrison scored the third run of the inning as he hit a sharp single to center field. Florida then took advantage of Georgia miscues as Harrison advanced to second on a fielder's choice and came home after a wild pitch and passed ball.

Florida would knock Hyle out of the game in the sixth as the sophomore had control problems. He would walk a batter in the inning and throw two more wild pitches. Florida would score another run in the frame as Jonathan Tucker reached on an error to start the rally. Harrison was hit by a pitch and Hyle threw a wild pitch to put two runners in scoring position. Jeff Corsaletti then delivered off reliever Bo Lanier with his line shot to center field that scored Tucker.

UF would stretch the lead with three more runs in the seventh. Stephen Barton walked and Justin Tordi and Brian Leclerc hit back-to-back doubles which each plated a run for a 6-0 Florida lead. Leclerc was driven in on a single to center by Smith.

Smith finished 2-for-4 with three RBI as Florida had seven hits including three for extra bases.

Hyle took the loss for the Bulldogs as Georgia used four pitchers. Hyle fell to 7-2 as he went the 5 and 2/3 innings and gave up three hits and four runs (two earned) with one walk and four strikeouts.


Florida head coach Pat McMahon –
"As challenges present themselves in a double elimination tournament it is fun to watch players step forward. We took the necessary steps today to battle a tough team and we found out about our club. They have great character and great enthusiasm. I am proud of these young men because we have the opportunity to play another day."

"I thought Connor's pitching effort was outstanding. He located well and made the pitches he needed. He just filled the strike zone and our guys played well behind him."

Florida junior Connor Falkenbach -
On the complete game shutout "I was anxious to be out there today. I just felt great all game and missed a few spots early but I just felt good all day. I am just glad to help this team get the win so we can play another day."

"This is definitely one of the best games I have ever pitched. To throw a complete game and give this team a chance to play tomorrow is rewarding."


Falkenbach was making just his third start of the season for Florida … The seven strikeouts tied a career high that he set in relief against Hofstra Feb. 21, 2003 … It was the second straight game that a Florida pitcher threw a complete game and the seventh by a Gator pitcher this season … This season Falkenbach has just nine walks with 71 strikeouts in 110.0 innings pitched.

Georgia swept three games from the Gators in the regular season … Florida improved to 4-7 all-time against the Bulldogs in the SEC Tournament while head coach Pat McMahon improved to 3-1 all-time against Georgia in meetings with the squad in the postseason affair.

Florida shutout an opponent in the SEC Tournament for the first time since May 24, 2002 when UF shutout Mississippi State 5-0 … It was just the third shutout of an opponent by the Gators in the SEC Tournament … It was the third shutout for Florida this season and the first since Feb. 13 against Miami (Fla.).

Ben Harrison extended his hit streak to a season best 10 games with his single in the fourth … He is the fifth different player this season with a hit streak of 10 or more game.

C.J. Smith hit his 31st career home run which ranks tied for eighth all time … It was the first long ball for Smith in five games and 22 at bats … It was the 65th Florida home run hit this season … UF has hit a long ball in 39 games this season and in six of the last seven contests.

UF has won two games in the SEC Tournament for the 14th time in their 25 appearances in the postseason affair.

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