BASEBALL: Gators Sweep Miami, win 11-10

The top-ranked Gator baseball team edged No. 16 Miami, 11-10, on Sunday afternoon in front of an overflow crowd 2,800 fans at Mark Light Field to complete a sweep of the weekend series. Florida (6-1) had never been perfect against the Hurricanes (6-6) in a three-game set and became the first team to take all three games at Mark Light Field since Florida State accomplished the feat over April 12-14, 2002.

In addition, UF was undefeated in the season series versus Miami for just the sixth time following 2-0 triumphs in 1948 (Gainesville), 1954 (Coral Gables), 1956 (Coral Gables), 1976 (Gainesville) and 1978 (Gainesville).

With UM trailing by a run with one out in the bottom of the ninth, freshman Dennis Raben reached Gator senior closer Darren O'Day (Jacksonville, Fla.) for a double off the left-field fence. However, the right-hander buckled down to strike out junior Gus Menendez and had junior Eddy Rodriguez line out to right to end the game. O'Day worked 1.2 innings, allowing two hits with two K, en route to his third save of the weekend. Sophomore Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) picked up his first collegiate win after giving up five hits and three runs over 2.2 frames, with junior Ricky Orta (1-1) on the hook for the defeat despite a career-high seven strikeouts and one hit allowed over four innings.

The Gators sent 12 batters to the plate in the second inning and jumped out to a 6-0 lead with one hit, three walks and four hit batters. Juniors Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) and Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee, Fla.) began the frame by being hit by sophomore left-hander Scott Maine. Junior Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) was caught looking at strikes for the first out and junior David Cash (Odessa, Fla.) followed with a base-hit into right to load the bases. A free pass to sophomore Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) brought across the first run and a fielding error by the UM catcher on senior Chris Woods' (Gainesville, Fla.) tapper back to the mound resulted in a 2-0 score. Still with the sacks full, junior Adam Davis (Ft. Myers, Fla.) was plunked and junior Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) walked to yield two more runs.

Orta replaced Maine (1.1 IP, 6 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 HBP) and junior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) greeted the reliever with a sacrifice fly to center to bring in Woods. Jeroloman drew a two-out walk to load the bases and Dickey was hit for the second time in the frame, scoring Davis with the sixth run. The Hurricanes narrowed the gap to 6-1 on an unearned run in the bottom of the second. Freshman Yonder Alonso roped a leadoff double to right field and scored when senior Tommy Giles' grounder was booted. The Gators turned their second double play of the contest and LaCoste had Rodriguez pop up to Davis to end the stanza.

Helped by two UF errors, Miami pulled to within 6-4 in the third. LaCoste retired the first two hitters he faced but then issued a walk to sophomore Walter Diaz. McArthur committed his second error of the game to allow junior Jon Jay to extend the inning. A throwing error by Cash on junior Danny Valencia's grounder enabled Diaz to score and Alonso delivered a two-run single to trim the Hurricanes' deficit to two runs. Entering as a pinch hitter, Raben sliced a single into right, ending the afternoon for LaCoste. The southpaw worked 2.2 innings, giving up three hits and four runs (zero earned). Sophomore Tommy Wynn (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) had Menendez fly out to center on his initial pitch to strand the pair of runners.

Rodriguez and freshman Blake Tekotte opened the bottom of the fourth with consecutive singles off Wynn but the right-hander was able to work out of the jam. The sophomore fanned rookie Jemile Weeks and had Diaz ground out to Cash, a play which was converted into an inning-ending double play.

Miami rallied for three hits and three runs with two down in the fifth to seize a 7-6 advantage. Wynn recorded two quick outs before Alonso collected his third hit of the afternoon with a single up the middle and Raben walked. Menendez sliced a 1-2 pitch from Wynn down the left-field line for a double to even the score and prompt a Gator pitching change. Rodriguez tagged Edmondson's first pitch for another two-bagger to put the hosts in front and the right-hander had Tekotte ground out to close the inning.

Limited to just one hit through their first five at bats, the Gators erupted for four runs on three hits in the sixth to grab a 10-7 lead. Woods drew a leadoff walk from Orta and raced down to second on a wild pitch. Although the hurler responded with strikeout of Davis, Leclerc followed with a game-tying ground-rule double into the right-field corner. After issuing an intentional walk to LaPorta, the slugger's second of the season, Orta was lifted for senior Andrew Lane. Jeroloman stepped to the dish and stroked an RBI single up the middle to bring Leclerc across with tying run. LaPorta advanced to third and Jeroloman took second on the relay throw, resulting in an intentional walk to Dickey with first base open. The maneuver backfired for the Hurricanes when sophomore Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla.) powered a ground-rule, two-run double to the fence in left for three-run Florida advantage. Lane prevented further trouble with consecutive strikeouts of Cash and sophomore Matt Gaski (Greensboro, N.C.).

An RBI single by Barber in the eighth boosted UF's lead to 11-7. LaPorta opened the frame with an infield hit and was erased on Jeroloman's fielder's choice. Dickey was plunked for the third time in the game to give the Gators two runners aboard and Barber ripped junior Danny Gil's 0-2 pitch into right for his career-high third RBI of the day.

Miami stormed back with three runs on three hits in the home portion of the eighth to narrow the gap to 11-10. Menendez opened with a free pass and Rodriguez poked a base-hit to give the Hurricanes runners on the corners. Tekotte's grounder narrowed the gap to 11-8 and a one-out single by Weeks prompted McMahon to relieve Edmondson with O'Day. The righty had Diaz ground out, advancing both runners into scoring position. After Jay came through with a clutch two-run single to right to pull UM within one, O'Day was called for a balk to advance Jay. The runner was stranded when O'Day induced an inning-ending grounder by Valencia to Davis.

For the second time in the series, Miami out-hit the Gators, today by a 14-6 margin. Alonso was 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs and Rodriguez was 3-for-5 to lead the ‘Canes. For Florida, Barber was 2-for-3 with three RBI, Leclerc was 1-for-4 with two RBI and Jeroloman (1-for-3) scored a game-high three runs. Florida returns to action on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. when it hosts Florida A&M at McKethan Stadium. The Gators handled the Rattlers twice last season, 17-2 and 18-3.

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