BASEBALL: Gators at mercy of Ole Miss, 14-1

Fourth-seeded Ole Miss (43-17) rolled to a 14-1 victory over top-seeded Florida (40-19) on Saturday afternoon at the 2005 SEC Tournament, setting up a rematch between the Gators and Rebels to decide who will face Mississippi State (39-20) in tomorrow's title game at 4 p.m. The game was shortened to seven innings because of the mercy rule. Junior Anthony Cupps (8-3) was perfect into the fifth and UM's offense supported him with 16 hits, including a seven-run third inning.

The Rebels jumped out a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by junior All-American Stephen Head and a two-out RBI single by senior Cooper Osteen. Freshman Justin Henry led off with a single up the middle, sophomore Chris Coghlan drew a walk and junior All-American Brian Pettway had an 11-pitch at bat before delivering a base-hit into left to fill the sacks. Head lofted a fly to the warning track in right to sophomore Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.), allowing Henry to score the game's opening run. Junior Bryan Ball (Punta Gorda, Fla.) struck out sophomore Mark Wright for the second out before Osteen ripped a 3-2 offering into center to give Ole Miss a two-run advantage. Ball had the seventh batter of the inning, rookie Zack Cozart, pop out to strand two runners.

The Rebels added to their lead in the third on seven runs and five hits for a 9-0 lead. Head started things off with a single to center and Wright punched a hit to left that eluded a diving attempt by sophomore Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee, Fla.) to give UM runners on the corners with none out. Ball issued a walk to Osteen to load the bases and the right-hander hit Cozart to bring across another run. Senior Mike Pete (Brandon, Fla.) took over for Ball (6-4), who gave up five hits and six runs, with four strikeouts and four walks in facing just 16 batters in two innings. The lefty reliever walked senior Barry Gunther to put another run on the board and senior Miles Franklin followed with a two-run single for a 6-0 margin. Henry re-loaded the bases with a flare into left and Pettway roped a one-out single to left center for an eight-run UM lead. A fielder's choice from Head increased the margin to 9-0.

A two-out double by Franklin in the fourth down the right-field line allowed Cozart to score the Rebels' 10th run of the afternoon. Henry followed with another run-scoring single to boost the margin to 11-0 and chase Pete (1.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R) from the game. Freshman Michael Branham (Tampa, Fla.) had Coghlan ground out to close the inning.

Cupps was perfect through four innings before sophomore Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) singled through the left side to begin the fifth. Sophomore Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) earned a base on balls and freshman Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) legged out an infield hit to load the bases. Sophomore Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) grounded into a 5-4-3 double play as LaPorta scored UF's first run and Tordi grounded out to keep the score at 11-1.

Osteen and Cozart had back-to-back singles in the sixth and Gunter stroked a RBI single to left to give the Rebels another score. A wild pitch by Branham advanced the runners to second and third and Henry delivered a sac fly to score Cozart. Couglan stroked a RBI single to finalize the margin at 14-1.

Henry and Osteen were each 3-for-3 for Ole Miss, while Pettway (2-for-4, two RBI), Cozart (2-for-3, three runs) and Franklin (2-for-4, three RBI, two runs) recorded multiple-hit efforts for the Red, White and Blue. UF managed only two singles against Cupps, who totaled four strikeouts and issued one walk in seven frames.

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