BASEBALL: Gators cruise past Harvard 12-6

Good eyes, solid pitching, and the timely hitting of Brandon McArthur lifted the Gators to a 12-6 victory over Harvard Friday night at McKethan Stadium. Florida watched the ball sail around the strike zone as the Crimson relievers Jason Brown, Mike Dukovich, and Jake Bruton combined to walk seven in the bottom half of the seventh inning. McArthur cleared the bases with a triple to the gap in right center, giving Florida an insurmountable lead.

The veteran Crimson squad was impressive through the first two-thirds of the game. In fact, they were in command of a 3-2 lead at the end of five and were positioned to upset the Gators (12-6) in their season opener. The Harvard pitching staff seemingly took the seventh inning stretch to heart. Their stretch was completed by a bevy of walks.

Chris Woods entered in the seventh inning and appropriately led off the inning with a walk after working Harvard reliever Jason Brown to a full count. First baseman Austin Pride hit a sharp single toward the center field gap. He attempted to pick-up second base, but was gunned down by the cut off man as Woods advanced to third. Second baseman Matt Gaski hit a rope just to the left side of the mound that probably would have fallen for a base hit had the Crimson infield not been playing up looking for the bunt. Harvard shortstop Morgan Brown had taken a step toward the bag at second and as the ball left Gaski's bat, Brown stabbed the ball for the second out of the inning.

Harvard manager Joe Walsh (no kidding) made the call to the pen for Dukovich, who walked Davis on four consecutive pitches, including a wild pitch that scored Woods. Eight of Dukovich's next ten offerings were out of the strike zone and the Gators loaded the bases. Walsh went back to the pen for Bruton, who attempted to send a fastball by McArthur on a 1-0 count. By the time the ball had reached the infield, McArthur was safely sliding into third with a three-run triple. The Gators led 8-3.

Catcher Brian Jeroloman followed with a single to right, scoring McArthur. Bruton walked Dickey on four consecutive pitches and gave Woods a free pass to first base as the Gators batted around. Walsh again went to the mound for right hander Taylor Meehan. Pride drilled his first pitch into centerfield, scoring Jeroloman and Dickey as Florida cruised to a comfortable 11-3 lead.

Florida starter Bryan Ball (3-2) had settled down nicely, but obviously stayed too long in the dugout during Florida's turn at the plate which, courtesy of pitching changes and baserunners, lasted nearly one hour. Treaties between warring nations had been negotiated and signed in the time it took to play the bottom of the seventh.

Coach Pat McMahon sent southpaw David Hurst to the mound for some much needed work. Hurst gave up three hits and an earned run in the eighth. He gave way to closer Matt Hightower, who allowed a couple of hits. The Crimson scored twice on errors by third baseman David Cash, who entered late in the game.

The Gators staked Ball to an early lead as Adam Davis walked, moved to third on Stephen Barton's double, and scored on Brian Leclerc's ground ball to first. McArthur then grounded out to second, scoring Barton. McArthur's four RBI's marked a career high.

The Crimson tied the game with Morgan Brown's two-run home run off of Ball in the third inning. He gave up a solo shot to Josh Klimkiewicz with the first pitch of the fourth inning. Other than those two pitches, Ball was in command of this ballgame.

The Crimson walked ten Florida batters tonight. Offensively, Harvard is a very sound team. They didn't swing at bad pitches and made contact as they finished with nine hits in the game.

The teams will play again tomorrow at 2pm. Florida will start right hander Bryan Augenstein (4-0) against Harvard sophomore Shawn Haviland (0-0).

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