BASEBALL: UF takes series from USC with 6-1 win

Senior Connor Falkenbach (1-1) shut down sixth ranked Carolina 6-1 to help Florida capture their first series win over their Eastern Division rivals since 1999. The right hander pitched five strong innings giving up just two hits while allowing no earned runs.

Today's efforts put an exclamation mark on a tremendous weekend by the Florida reliever. Falkenbach pitched in each of the three games in the series. His numbers for the weekend are a reflection of his work ethic, dedication to team, and an apparent taste for chicken. Falkenbach plucked, marinated, and slow roasted the Gamecocks.

He pitched 8.1 innings giving up just five hits and no earned runs, while striking out three. His 0.00 ERA and .161 opponent batting average came against a squad who entered the weekend batting .316.

This series win was big for so many reasons. Florida (19-7, 3-3) now sits atop the Eastern Division with Tennessee and Vanderilt.

"This is huge" left fielder Gavin Dickey said. "You know it's a two game swing. We could either be 2-4 or 3-3, so it was a huge win today"

The victory also gave the Gators a 2-0 series mark against 2004 College Worlds Series teams (Miami and SC), who are projected to make yet another run at Omaha. In both of those series, Florida has had to battle back after dropping the Friday night contest.

"It's hard losing on Friday night" Falkenbach said. "We want to win on Friday night and get a good start for the weekend. We wanted to put Friday night behind us and come out and win Saturday and Sunday because we know that we'll win the series if we do that".

The Gamecocks got things going early. Starter Alan Horne walked leadoff hitter Chris Brown, who was cut down by Florida's resident Samurai Brian Jeroloman. Horne then walked Steven Tolleson, who advanced to third on Jon Willard's single and scored on Michael Campbell's single to right field. It would be the only run the Gamecocks would score though.

The Gators answered in the bottom of the second. With one out, Dickey doubled to right center. Jeroloman followed with a single to right center and moved to second on the throw at third as right fielder Brendan Winn tried to get Dickey. Shortstop Justin Tordi then singled to right field scoring both runners and giving the Gators a 2-1 lead.

Dickey was outstanding in the field. Just as Jeff Corsaletti robbed Michael Campbell of a home run in Saturday's game, Dickey followed suit today. In the top of the first, he went after Steven Pearce's deep fly ball to the left field wall and hauled it in for the catch. However, the 5'11 196 sophomore (baseball) made an encore performance in the 6th inning off of the bat of Campbell.

Dickey went over the wall to snag Campbell's ball and brought it back into play. The plays were especially impressive as the winds were blowing very hard and made life difficult for the two teams. It's also safe to assume that Corsaletti and Dickey did not receive Easter greetings from Campbell, who saw his home run numbers remain at three.

"I don't know" Dickey said laughing "He hit it pretty good in the gap. I got a good jump on the ball and brought it down I guess. I didn't see where the fence was, so I don't know if it was over (on the first one). The second one was".

Corsaletti ripped a solo shot that quickly departed The Mac in the third inning giving Florida a two run lead.

The Gators scored runs in both the seventh and eight innings to run the score to 6-1.

Stephen Barton and Brian "Samurai" Jeroloman each went 2 for 3. Barton also drew a pair of walks. The Samurai drew a bases loaded walk to pick up an RBI. Florida's leading hitter, Corsaletti went 2 for 4 with a pair of RBI's. Second baseman Adam Davis continued his hot streak going 2 for 5 and adding an RBI.

Horne did not pitch poorly. He missed at times giving up three hits and issuing four walks. He was dominant at times, such as in the second inning, when he struck out two of the three batters he faced and only needed eight pitches. He said at times that he felt as though he threw with as much velocity as he had all year. It showed. When Horne was on, the Gamecocks missed badly. He just lacks consistency.

"It's been that way all year, so far. It's been sporadic and I've struggled a bit". Horne said. "But, when you play a team this good you expect some tough stretches. I struggled in that first inning. I'm still battling through a lot of things. I've got to keep working to get deep in games because I know that's what I was brought here for was to be a workhorse and throw a lot of innings for these guys, and I've just got to do a better job of it".

Still Horne had to have taken some positives away from this one. Right now, if Horne improves, he could potentially be outstanding down the tough conference stretch.

"Yeah, it's a big boost (psychologically) for us to pitch against these guys in the best conference in the nation". The Marianna native said. "We played two of the best offensive teams in the conference the first two weekends. If you can go out and compete against them, you can compete against anybody. But, I've just got to get better".

"I'm alright" Falkenbach stated. "I'm going to rehab and I'll be ready to go again. I'll be ready (for Florida State)."

Florida will travel to Tallahassee to take on Florida State on Wednesday night at 6pm.


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