March 31, 2004
Gainesville, Fla. – An 11th inning two run rally that was helped by three Florida State errors lifted the University of Florida baseball team (25-5) to a 7-6 victory over the Seminoles. UF led 5-4 entering the ninth but gave up a run forcing extra innings. The game was played in front of a McKethan Stadium record-setting crowd of 5,663.
Ryne Malone led off the Florida State 11th inning with a solo home run before the Gators responded with two runs of their own.
The Gators came back as Adam Davis led off the 11th with a single and advanced to second on a throwing error. Ben Harrison followed and tied the game with a single to ricochet off the third baseman’s glove, which brought Davis home. Another fielding error put Austin Easley aboard and moved Harrison to third with the winning run. Stephen Barton stepped to the plate in his second clutch situation of the game and hit a ground ball in the hole at shortstop that the shortstop could not field and Harrison came in from third.
Florida State scored four in the first but a duo of Gator pitchers shutout the Seminoles over the next six innings before Florida State pushed a run across to tie the game in the ninth. Steven Porter would give up the four runs before Connor Falkenbach came on in relief.
Falkenbach came in and pitched like a starter to keep Florida in the game. Coming into the game down early in a pressure spot, the junior came through to get out of the first and quietly sat down Florida State over the next five innings. He would give up just three hits and no runs while striking out three over 5 1/3. Lee Roberson then stepped in and pitched two scoreless innings
The Seminoles first began as Bryan Zech led off the game with a solo shot to left on the second pitch of the contest. After a single by Eddy Martinez-Esteve and an ensuing error, Aaron Cheesman’s groundout would score Esteve from third. The Seminoles then hit their second long ball of the inning courtesy of Brant Peacher with a shot that hit the scoreboard in right. FSU tagged on one more run in the first when Matt Sauls singled through the left side to drive in Daniel Wardell who got on with a double to make it 4-0.
UF came charging back in the bottom of the sixth after being shut down the first five innings. Davis led off with an infield single and his legs made the second baseman put it in his pocket. After Harrison was tagged by a pitch, C.J. Smith drove in his team leading 39th RBI with a single to right to drive home Davis. The Gators then loaded the bases for Barton who came in to pinch-hit. Barton lifted the ball over the shortstop’s head as the ball dropped in left which drove home two, bringing UF within a run with only one out.
The Gators took the lead two batters later with another clutch hit from freshman Brian Jeroloman. Tordi advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt and Jeroloman hit a grounder back through the middle to give UF their first lead of the game.
Florida State starter Rhett James was equally up to the task the first five innings, but the Gators finally got to him in the sixth to force him out of the game. James got a no decision and pitched six innings and gave up five runs with two walks and career high eight strikeouts.
Darren O’Day came in the top of the ninth to close out the game. Matt Sauls would single and later come home on a Shane Robinson double which tied the game. O’Day (3-1) would finish the game after entering in the ninth and pitch the final three innings in earning the win on the mound.
Davis and Harrison each scored twice and had a pair of hits for Florida while Wardell and Zech had three base hits for the Florida State 14 hit attack.