Florida pummels Irish 23-3 for NCAA Regional Crown

Top seed Florida pummeled third seed Notre Dame 23-3 in the NCAA Gainesville Baseball Regionals. The Gators pounded out 21 hits, played stellar defense, and forced the Notre Dame pitching staff to throw 206 pitches, which is basically the equivalent of two ballgames. Six Florida players were named to the All-Tournament Team, including Most Valuable Player Brian LeClerc.

Florida (43-20) will host arch-rival Florida State next weekend in Gainesville for the NCAA Super Regionals. The Seminoles (53-18) beat Auburn 10-4 in Tallahassee Regional Championship Game. The dates and times for the series will be announced on ESPN Tuesday at 12pm.

They beat us on our own turf," right fielder Brian LeClerc said. "We're going to do everything we can to make sure that doesn't happen again."

Notre Dame actually began the scoring onslaught with two in the bottom of the first, while Florida slammed the door in the ninth courtesy of reserve catcher Greg Quatrino's three-run home run.

Alan Horne (8-2) was ahead of three of the first four batters he faced. However, he lost them to a walk, hit by pitch, and a single. The Florida defense helped the right hander out of the jam. Notre Dame right fielder Steve Andres ripped a double to center field. Corsaletti quickly hit cut off man Adam Davis, who threw a strike to catcher Brian Jeroloman which nailed leadoff man Craig Cooper at the plate for the first out. Clean-up man Matt Edwards then laced a single to the gap in right/center scoring two runs. Catcher Brian Jeroloman nailed Cody Rizzo to end the inning as he attempted to steal second. Rizzo had reached on a fielder's choice.

Meanwhile, freshman Wade Korpi began the game by throwing Florida leadoff hitter Jeff Corsaletti a fastball for a strike. The southpaw threw nothing but breaking balls the rest of the way. Korpi allowed a base runner in the first and second innings, but the Gators could not score. It seemed like Florida was a bit too pumped up for this one. Personally, I'm convinced the guys were salivating as they watched Korpi warm up. It appeared that there were a few cuts for the fence in the first couple of innings.

Horne did his part and was simply outstanding the rest of the way. The junior retired the Irish in the second, fourth, sixth, and seventh inning in order. He allowed only a single in each of the third and fifth innings Horne struck out eight in seven innings.

The Gators broke loose with five runs in the top of the third. Jared Kubin drew a walk on a 3-2 count. He advanced to second on a wild pitch, but was injured on the slide and replaced in the lineup by Stephen Barton. Two pitches later, senior Jeff Corsaletti hit a bomb over the right field scoreboard to tie things up at two. Adam Davis doubled, Matt LaPorta walked, and Korpi hit Jeroloman to load the bases.

Notre Dame Coach Paul Maineri elected to stay with the freshman and paid for the decision as Brandon McArthur scored Davis on a sac fly to center. Tournament MVP Brian LeClerc followed with two-run single to center, which gave the Gators a 5-2 lead and chased Korpi.

"Everyone on my offense picked me up all year, LeClerc said about the MVP honor. "I just felt like I wanted to come in like a whole new season for me and try to get back to where I was at at the beginning of the year. My hat is off to my teammates. They've been picking me up all year and I just wanted to do my part."

LeClerc's hair is certainly off to his teammates.

Florida scored two more runs in the fourth and fifth innings. They continued to march through the Irish pitching staff scoring three runs in the seventh, seven runs in the eight, and four runs in the ninth.

LeClerc went four for five with four RBI's. He hit eight of twelve (.667) for the tourney and secured nine RBI's. Davis also went four for five. He scored six times and ripped three RBI's.

"We knew that we had Alan Horne on the mound and that he was gonna throw up a lot of zeros, so we had to do our job and put up some runs," LeClerc said. "We just got help from everyone, top to bottom, freshman, seniors. It felt great."

The NCAA Gainesville Regional All-Tournament Team

C- Brian Jeroloman-Florida
1B- Matt LaPorta-Florida
2B- Adam Davis-Florida
SS- Brian Bocock-Stetson
3B-Chad Flack-North Carolina
OF- Brian LeClerc-Florida
OF- John DeStefano-Stetson
OF- Jeff Corsaletti-Florida
DH- Brett Lilley-Notre Dame
P-Tommy Boss-Florida
P- Dan Kapala-Notre Dame

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