Gators Engage In "Save The Dolphins" Campaign

Florida took on a "Save the Dolphins" campaign Tuesday evening by committing four errors in the final two innings which resulted in a 6-5 loss to Jacksonville University. The Gators (9-7) committed six errors on the evening and it was once again those unearned runs that did in the hometown favorites.

The Dolphins (8-10) secured two base runners in the eighth courtesy of Florida errors, but were unable to score. However, back-to-back errors after reliever Josh Edmondson had walked Pete Clifford to start the inning proved to be the difference in this contest. LaPorta committed the first error trying to throw out the runner after a bunt that rolled to the right side of the mound. Two pitches later, Ryan McCardle hit a hard ground ball that Figueroa couldn't come up with allowing Clifford to score the all important sixth run on the play.

Shortstop Jon Townsend committed three errors. Cole Figueroa, Matt LaPorta, and Hampton Tignor added one each. The Dolphins seemingly always save their best for the Gators, but it this was another setback for a youthful Florida squad. Five of the six errors were committed by first year members of the squad.

Jacksonville got on the scoreboard early. Leadoff hitter Kevin Ferreira dribbled a ball off the end of the bat that landed in front of the mound and beat out the throw to first base. Chuck Opachich followed with a single to right field. Left fielder Pete Clifford moved the runners into scoring position with a ground ball to first baseman Mat LaPorta, who applied the tag. Clean-up hitter Mike McCallister walked on a full count. With the bases loaded, Ryan McArdle hit a ball into foul territory along the first base side that was fielded by right fielder Brian Leclerc. Ferreira scored on the play to give the Dolphins the lead.

Opachich scored on a throwing error by catcher Hampton Tignor, who had thrown down to second base trying to get McCallister on the move to second base. Tignor saw McCallister going and made a textbook throw to the bag. However, second baseman Cole Figueroa didn't get to the bag. Ben Kerr flew out to right fielder Brian Leclerc to end the inning. Jacksonville led 2-0.

The Dolphins started off the third inning just as they did the first. Opachich singled to left field. However, he ventured too far off the bag and Florida starter Kevin Chapman threw over to LaPorta. Opachich ran toward second and was nailed on LaPorta's throw to Townsend, who promptly tagged him out.

The Gators knotted things up in the bottom half of the third inning. Tignor led off with a single up the gut. Number nine hitter Avery Barnes then singled to the gap in right-center. Tignor was running all the way that perfectly rolled through before the shortstop could get to it. Second baseman Cole Figueroa grounded out to second moving both runners over. LaPorta was intentionally walked to load the bases. It marked the eighth time LaPorta has been intentionally walked this season. Designated hitter followed with a deep fly ball to center that easily scored Barnes. Third baseman Clayton Pisani flew out to left field to end the inning.

Florida took the lead in the fifth playing a little long ball. With one out, Townsend was hit by a pitch and rounded the bases when Figueroa launched a ball deep into the night over the scoreboard beyond the right field fence. Five pitches later, LaPorta drilled a low line drive over the left field fence to give the Gators a 5-2 lead.

Jacksonville loaded the bases in the sixth and scored their first run of the inning on a walk. Head coach Pat McMahon had just called for reliever David Hurst to take over for Pat Keating. Hurst delivered four consecutive balls to score Mike McCallister, who reached after he was hit by a pitch. Hurst struck out Donnie Vickers then for the first out in the inning. Shortstop Matt Lopez followed with a fly ball to center that scored McArdle. Hurst got Ferreira to hit a lazy fly ball to center for the third out in the inning as the Dolphins stranded two runners.

Pete Clifford tied things up at five for the Dolphins with a home run in the seventh inning.

The Gators were unable to rally. After scoring three runs in the fifth, the Gators did not move a runner beyond first base in the final four turns at the plate.

Edmondson took the loss for the Gators, while Matt Garner picked up his second win for the Dolphins.

Florida travels to College Station to play ninth ranked Texas A&M this weekend for a three game series.

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