BASEBALL: Gators own worst enemy in season opener

The north central Florida temperatures weren't the only things that dropped as the Florida baseball team fought Charleston Southern in the Gators season opener at McKethan Stadium. Florida committed six errors, including three in the 11th inning, as the Buccaneers defeated the Gators 5-4.

A crowd of 2,372 braved the chilly temperatures to welcome the Gators back into action. Florida football Coach Urban Meyer threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The pitch equaled his expectations of his program, high and in the zone. He was accompanied by his children. As he departed the field, he was hugged and greeted by the entire Florida baseball team.

Florida was plagued with problems the entire game and the Gators largely did themselves in with numerous mental breakdowns both in the field and on the basepaths.

Coach Urban Meyer and son Nathan as they prepare to
throw the ceremonial first pitch of the season.

The Gators bats were cold as well. Seniors Tommy Boss and Connor Falkenbach pitched well enough to win, but got no run support. Boss threw four innings, giving up six hits and a pair of earned runs while striking out three. Boss was toughest with men on base, twice getting a strikeout after a Buc base hit. He sent down the Bucs in order the first two innings, and despite giving up two hits in the third, gave up no runs.

The Bucs (2-3) led off the fourth with a single by Jordan Haar to left center. Haar moved to second on a stolen base and advanced to third two batters later when Brian Sole singled to right field,. Haar scored one pitch later on former Santa Fe Community College star Allen Bontya's single to right field. Brian LeClerc's fielding error allowed Sole to advance to third. He scored on a fielder's choice.

Jeff Corsaletti as he swings and misses on a pitch

The Gators (0-1) collected their first hit of 2005 in the bottom of the fourth as Adam Davis led off with the single to left field. However, Jeff Corsaletti square around on three pitches and bunted Davis over to second, an odd decision since Corsaletti put up good power and RBI numbers last season. Davis scored later in the inning on a wild pitch by Charleston Southern starter Brad Bissell, who allowed only three hits in 5.1 innings. Bissell walked four, but allowed only one earned run. The inning ended when Matt LaPorta was picked off of first. It was the Gators' second base running blunder of the game. LaClerc was caught stealing in the third after drawing a leadoff walk.

With Florida trailing, 2-1, Connor Falkenbach replaced Boss in the top of the fifth, retiring the side in eight pitches.

LeClerc reached on a fielder's choice and Gavin Dickey singled to center in the Gators half of the fifth, but LeClerc was cut down at the plate by the center fielder's throw. Florida left two men on base.

The Bucs scored again in the sixth, on a single Keith Stewart. Florida's Gavin Dickey committed an error on the play when he threw the ball down the third base line against the backstop. Bontya, who had reached on a catcher's interference, scored on the play, giving the Bucs a 3-1 lead. The inning could have been worse, though, as the Bucs stranded three base runners.

The Gators had a comeback brewing in the seventh but once again, baserunning blunders killed Florida's chances for a big inning. Reliever Ryan Sower walked two Florida batters and with two outs, Stephen Barton ripped a sharp single to center scoring Brian Jeroloman. However, pinch hitter Bryson Barber was thrown out at the plate trying to score after Barton had crossed.

A beautiful night for baseball at McKethan Stadium, despite the loss.

Southern held on to a 3-2 lead until the bottom of the ninth when Jeroloman took Nino Fauselo's first delivery of the inning and deposited it over the right field fence, trying the game with Florida's first home run of the season.

The teams traded runs in the 10th but the Gators could have done more damage, stranding two runners on base in their half of the inning.

Sadly, the wheels fell off for the Gators in the top of the eleventh. Three Gators errors allowed the Bucs to bring home the winning run without a single base hit.

Saturday's probable starter for Southern, Bobby Parnell (1-0), picked up the win. Florida reliever Darren O'Day was tagged with the loss. The Gators are expected to start much heralded JUCO transfer Alan Horne Saturday. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.

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