BASEBALL: Recent history favors Hurricanes

Recent history clearly implicates the University of Miami as key spoilers to a variety of Florida's athletic teams. In the past three years, the Hurricanes have dashed hopes for a Florida victory celebration in football (twice), basketball (2004-05), and women's tennis (2004). However, no group of Gators has experienced the measure of loss due to Hurricane damage like that of the Florida baseball team.

It began in 2002 when the Gators took two early season contests from defending national champion Miami in Coral Gables. The rivals squared off again, this time in Gainesville for the NCAA Regionals. Both teams won their regional openers and met in the winners bracket game. The Hurricanes (32-26) beat Florida (44-18) by a score of 7-2. The Gators battled back through the losers bracket to face a well-rested Miami club. They defeated Miami 11-10 in 10 innings to force a winner-take-all championship game. Florida was on the verge of a trip to Omaha, leading 7-5 when Miami rallied in the bottom of the ninth. With two outs, the Gators holding a 7-6 lead, Jim Burt drilled a two-run double to deep left center giving the Canes the regional championship.

The two teams split a pair of early season contests in Gainesville in 2003. Florida (34-19-1) received a slot in the Coral Gables Regional. The Gators dropped the opener against Florida Atlantic and battled back through the tourney to face the winners bracket champion Hurricanes. Florida blasted Miami 15-5 courtesy of big home runs by Jeff Corsaletti and Brian Rose. The championship game saw more heartbreak for the Gators, though, as the Hurricanes took a 13-10 win and advanced to the Super Regionals.

Last season, Florida beat Miami 3-0 on a two-hitter by Justin Hoyman and Darren O'Day. However, Miami won the two remaining games to take the Coral Gables series. Florida won the regional tournament the Oklahoma City regional tournament. However, all too typically, the Gators were sent back to Coral Gables for the Super Regional and an opportunity to travel to Omaha for the College World Series.

The series opener was yet another heartbreaker for the Gators. Trailing 8-4, Florida rallied for three runs in the top of the eighth to close the gap to a single stroke of the bat. Florida would be sending up the five through seven spots, which included a .323 hitter in Jeff Corsaletti. Following Corso were Matt LaPorta and Brian LeClerc, who had both homered on consecutive days.

Miami closer Danny Gil struck out Corsaletti and LaPorta. He got LeClerc to ground out to short with the count full.

The Gators were never really a threat in game two, as Miami All-American Cesar Carrillo out-dueled Connor Falkenbach to seal the Hurricanes berth in the CWS. Carrillo struck out nine Florida batters while allowing only four hits and one earned run. Falkenbach held a potent Miami offense to just three runs.

The Hurricanes come to Gainesville undefeated (7-0) and ranked number two in the latest Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Poll; number five in Baseball America. Florida (3-1) dropped to number 27 in the CBN Poll, number 15 in Baseball America.

"Those guys (Miami) have ruined our season too many times since I've been here". Friday starter Tommy Boss said earlier this season. "It's just disgusting. We're looking forward to getting an opportunity to play them up here, and turning the tables."

Boss' words are echoing throughout the minds of many of those Gators in the Florida dugout, as well as those who will fill McKethan Stadium this weekend.

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