Sophomore starter Bryan Ball (1-0) reduced a Hurricane lineup that exploded for 17 hits and nine runs on Friday night to an exhale. He scattered five hits in six shutout innings while fanning four. Ball was simply outstanding. He stayed ahead of the hitters all day, allowing three balls for the first time on any single batter in the fourth inning. That batter, Danny Figueroa, took a full count for a single. There were only two other times that Ball ran a count to three balls, one of those in the sixth when he gave up his only walk of the game. He lowered his season ERA to 0.75 and the opponents batting average to .200 but he didn't pick up a much-deserved victory with a performance worthy of the SEC Pitcher of the Week Award..
"Bryan pitched well and competed very hard,"said a pleased Coach Pat McMahon. "Today's effort is absolutely defined as a quality start. I'm very proud of the way he pitched."
Everything was pretty quiet for the first three innings as Ball and Miami starter Dan Touchet were in such command that the crowd seemed better suited for a wake.
There were three early moments that demonstrated Florida was better mentally prepared for this game after some untimely breakdowns of poise and concentration Friday.
In the first, Miami leadoff batter Danny Figueroa singled deep in the hole at short. Three pitches later, Paco Figueroa hit a bouncing ball to second baseman Adam Davis who started a double play with a perfect throw to shortstop Justin Tordi covering second. Tordi's strong relay to Matt LaPorta nailed Paco at first to complete the twin killing and eliminate the speedy brothers from the base paths. Davis leads the team in errors thus far with five but Saturday he was very steady.
One inning later, Miami first baseman Danny Valencia laced a one out single to right. Ball came back to strikeout right fielder Brendan Katin on three straight pitches, the money pitch a nasty curveball that completely fooled the Hurricane hitter.
In the fourth inning, Danny Figueroa led off with another single and he was sacrificed to second by his brother, Paco. Ryan Braun then reached courtesy of a Tordi error which moved Figueroa to third. On the next pitch, Florida catcher Brian Jeroloman fired a perfect strike to Tordi to nail Braun, who was attempting to steal. Ball got Miami's top hitter Jon Jay (.500) to hit a roller to Davis at second to close out the inning.
Gator center fielder Jeff Corsaletti broke through against Toucet in the bottom of the fourth with a frozen rope to center for Florida's first hit. LaPorta short-armed a single to left but Jeroloman hit into a fielder's choice that eliminated Corsaletti at third. Tordi then ripped a double down the left field line to drive home LaPorta. The Gators pushed their luck on the bases when Jeroloman wasn't given the stop sign at third. He was gunned down at home on shortstop Roger Tomas' relay throw to end the inning.
On the play at the plate, Jeroloman grazed Eddy Rodriguez as the Miami catcher applied the tag. Rodriguez held onto the ball for the out, but Touchet tried stirring things up with Jeroloman and the umpire. Rodriguez put up a half-hearted protest but the umpiring crew ignored the Hurricane battery mates and Coach Jim Morris, who also put in his two cents. Five year old girls have suffered harder hits trying to quickly pick-up jacks after bouncing the rubber ball on their kitchen floors.
When Braun led off the Miami seventh with a double to left center, McMahon went to the bullpen for lefthander Steven Porter to face the lefty-hitting Jay. Porter struck Jay out on four pitches to complete his work for the day. McMahon went back to the pen for O'Day to finish off the inning without giving up a run. Throughout the afternoon O'Day confounded the Hurricanes with a wicked knuckle-curve. Of his 57 pitches, 42 were for strikes.
Florida squandered one chance after another to break the game open. The Gators left 13 men on base and when the Hurricanes finally strung three hits together in the top of the ninth, Florida was headed to extra innings, tied at 1-1.
The Gators won it in the eleventh. Adam Davis reached on a one-out walk and he moved to second when Gavin Dickey, inserted into the lineup in the ninth for his glove, ripped a single to left. Corsaletti grounded out to first, moving the runners over. Miami walked the hot hitting LaPorta intentionally to load the bases. After a pitching change, Jeroloman lofted his fly ball to left which Jay dropped, allowing the winning run to score. It was a long overdue reversal of fortunes for the Gators to secure victory because of a Miami error.
The first two games in the series have drawn 8,700 highly entertained fans. With the series tied at 1-1, Florida will start senior Tommy Boss (0-0, 4.50 ERA, .333 OBA) against Miami's Chris Perez (2-0, 2.45 ERA, .231 OBA) in a 1 p.m. Sunday start.