BASEBALL:Friday Night Miseries Continue For Gators

What is it about Friday nights and Florida's baseball team? Why is it that on any other day of the week so far in this season, the eighth-ranked Gators are too tough to handle, yet on Friday nights they struggle? Why is it that on any other day of the week, the Gators rip the cover off the ball, yet on Friday nights the hits are too hard to come by? And why is it that the pitching for Florida is dominant six days of the week but it's shaky on Fridays?

The Gators are 9-3 this season, 8-0 on non-Friday games, 1-3 on Friday nights and the one Friday night win last week against Rhode Island (5-4) was a struggle. This week's Friday game was more of the same, an 11-1 blowout loss pinned on the Gators by Villanova, which rode a stout pitching performance by Nick Allen and timely hitting to a cruise control win at McKethan Stadium before a crowd of 1,338.

The Gators have come back to sweep each series after the Friday night losses. Florida will play game two of its three game series with the Wildcats Saturday at 2 p.m. Righthander Bryan Ball (2-0, 0.48 earned run average) will get the start for Florida.

Allen, coming off a no-hitter last week against Norfolk State, was in total command for Villanova (5-1-1). The senior from Green Lane, Pennsylvania didn't have overpowering stuff but he did have total command of his pitches and he kept the Gators off balance all night by continually changing speeds. Allen went seven and one-third innings, gave up five hits, walked four and struck out three. He extended his string of innings without giving up an earned run to 19 and one-third.

"I thought he (Allen) did an outstanding job of mixing his pitches and he did a great job of pitching to both sides of the plate and disrupting our timing," said Florida Coach Pat McMahon. "As a result of that we hit some balls hard, key early balls hit hard that turned into double plays."

Florida did hit the ball hard and often, but it was one of those nights when every time the Gators tagged the ball, it was hit right at someone. Florida got six hits and in only one inning (eighth) were the Gators able to put two hits together in the same inning.

Villanova, on the other hand, did an excellent job of bunching its hits together as well as showing excellent patience at the plate. The Wildcats hammered out 15 hits and took advantage of seven walks by six Florida pitchers.

The Wildcats got all the runs they would need in the first inning off Florida starter Alan Horne, who had good velocity on the ball but had problems getting his pitches where he wanted them. Horne gave up successive singles to right field by Kris Molloy and Derek Shunk to lead off the game, then one out later first baseman Jeremy Hunt launched a two-strike fast ball over the right field fence. Three successive walks and a sacrifice fly by Andy Wendle gave the Wildcats a 4-0 lead and that was all the help Allen needed.

"They did a great job early on of driving some balls in the opposite gap and the home run early was a factor," said Donovan. "I think that if you asked Alan some of the pitches where they were located he'd like to do a better job of that."

The kind of night the Gators were going to have at the plate off Allen was obvious in the first inning. Adam Davis hit the ball hard, but right at the second baseman. Stephen Barton followed with a hard line single to right field, but he was erased when Jeff Corsaletti hit a one-hop rocket to Shunk at shortstop. Shunk bobbled the ball, but regained control, stepped on second for the force and relayed to first for the double play.

The Gators loaded the bases in the second inning when Shunk booted hard hit balls by Matt LaPorta and Justin Tordi. Bryson Barber smacked a sharp, one-hop grounder to first for the second out, advancing LaPorta and Tordi, and Brian Jeroloman followed with a walk to load the bases. Allen escaped the inning when right fielder James Dolbier made a running catch of Brandon McArthur's high fly ball for the third out.

The Wildcats sent Horne to the showers with a run in the third on three consecutive hits with Wendle's line driver to center bringing home Alan Day to make it 5-0.

Another three-hit inning in the fifth plated two more runs for Villanova off reliever Mike Pete, who was relieved by Connor Falkenbach. Falkenbach was touched for three runs in the seventh when Molloy launched a two-out three-run homer to left field. .

Florida got its only run in the sixth when Barton reached on a walk, moved to second on a passed ball and scored on Corsaletti's hard single to right center.

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