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NCAA BASEBALL: Gators survive Bethune-Cookman with ninth-inning heroics

GAINESVILLE -- The Gators made things interesting -- very interesting, pull-your-teeth-out interesting -- but survived mighty Bethune-Cookman on Friday night in the opening game of the NCAA Gainesville regional.

The Gators defeated B-CU 8-7 on a walk-off, two-out single by substitute Teddy Foster. Foster tossed his helmet in the air moments after base-runner Matt den Dekker slide across the plate to give UF its dramatic win. Florida loaded the bases in the ninth before Foster heroics. Florida plays the University of Miami at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.

--The Gators are rallying in the bottom of the ninth and threatening to take the lead. UF trails 7-6 with runners on first and third with no outs. New pitcher in for B-CU, Felix Machado. UF pinch-hitter Jerico Weitzel is up for the Gators.

BC-U makes it 7-5...
Bethune-Cookman power hitter Ryan Durrance homered in the top of the ninth to give B-CU a 7-5 lead. The Gators have work to do. On the mound for the Wildcats is Eric Thomas, a Gainesville native. Quite the script.

-Did a little research. Bethune-Cookman is 0-22 all time against Florida and the Wildcats are 1-18 in the NCAA tournament. All that could change in six outs if B-CU holds its 6-5 lead against Florida.

The Gators have trailed nearly the entire game but rallied in the eighth, adding two runs on a key two-out single by shortstop Mike Mooney. Closer Billy Bullock is in the game for the Gators. Bethune-Cookman scored two runs in the top of the eighth on a homer by pinch-hitter Drew Clark.

Tucker homers in the seventh...
UF added a run in the bottom of the seventh when freshman Preston Tucker smacked a homer over the right-centerfield wall at McKethan Stadium. Bethune-Cooman University now leads UF 4-3 after seven innings in the NCAA regional opener. Tucker's home run came on B-CU pitcher Hiram Burgos' 130th pitch of the game.

DAVIS GETS UF OUT OF JAM...
UF relief pitcher Tony Davis of Cooper City pitched UF out of a jam in the top of the sixth. Davis entered the game with runners on first and third with one out before forcing B-CU lead-off hitter Mark Brooks into an inning-ending double play. B-CU still leads the Gators 4-2.

GATORS CUT B-CU lead in half...
The University of Florida baseball team scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning on Friday to cut Bethune-Cookman's lead in half, 4-2, in both teams' opening game of the NCAA Gainesville Regional baseball tournament.

Gators' left fielder Avery Barnes started the rally with a single to centerfield and later scored on an RBI infield single from Preston Tucker. Jonathan Pigott doubled down the line after Barnes' at-bat and gave UF its second run when Josh Adams singled to center.

3rd inning, B-CU gets two more
Bethune-Cookman University did more damage in the third inning, extending its lead to 4-0. UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan pulled freshman starter Anthony Desclafani after 2 and 1/3 innings. He allowed four runs on five hits. Senior pitcher Patrick Keating was brought in for long relief. Meanwhile, B-CU pitcher Hiram Burgos has been skillful on the mound locating his pitches. He has struck out four in three innings and scattered three hits.

2nd inning, B-CU scores a pair
UF freshman pitcher Anthony Desclafani ran into some trouble in the second inning, allowing two runs on two hits. Bethune-Cookman leads UF 2-0. Desclafani walked the inning's lead-off batter before allowing a double to B-CU's Emmanuel Castro. The Wildcats scored both of their runs after fielding misques by Gators' third baseman Brandon McArthur and second baseman Josh Adams.

PREGAME...
Gators freshman right-hander Anthony DeSclafani is starting tonight against Bethune-Cookman. The game will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Sclafani (6-3) has started 10 games this season with a 4.60 ERA. Starting a freshman in the opening game of the NCAA regional is a gamble. UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan is apparently saving redshirt senior pitcher Stephen Locke for the 'Canes on Saturday, assuming the Gators win of course.

Bethune-Cookman will start right-hander Hiram Burgos (6-3), a talented veteran pitcher who pitched well against the 'Canes earlier this season.

EARLIER...
Sitting in the McKethan Stadium press box -- sweating through my shirt -- and waiting for tonight's game between the Gators and Bethune-Cookman at 6:30 p.m. Still now word on who's starting for the Gators.

BCU batting UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan has been secretive about who he's starting tonight. That's never a good sign heading into the postseason, if you ask me. We'll update line-ups and such on this blog post when we get the information.

[PICTURED, Bethune-Cookman taking pre-game batting practice.]

Miami took care of business earlier today with a 9-4 win against Jacksonville University.

-jo- 

Comments

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Jo,

I for one hope UF wins tonight! I think the game tomorrow will be a lot of fun if it happens! BC is tough though! They took it to us a few weeks ago! Hope to see you tomorrow!

Go 'canes!

Jo,

Everything I saw says UF/scUM will be tommorrow evening, can you confirm the 1:00pm start that you have in the article?

GatorJoe,

According to Gatorzone.com the game will be at 6:30PM and will be telecast on SUN TV. Our friend Jo is usually wrong, so why ask him?

Jo,

"Starting a freshman in the opening game of the NCAA regional is a gamble. UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan is apparently saving redshirt senior pitcher Stephen Locke for the 'Canes on Saturday, assuming the Gators win of course."

It was a gamble but it paid off. I am sure that his decision to save Locke for the scUMs is looking pretty good to Gator fans.

Ah, so very funny, UFGator1972. Thanks so much. Sorry, GatorJoe. The game is at 6:30 p.m. It was corrected in the newspaper edition of my story. Had to write the first version in about five minutes and I regret the error.

-jo-

I now see what you guys were talking about. The blog has been updated. The correct time for the UF-UM game is 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. Thanks for the heads up.

As for Sully's gamble, it certainly paid off. Sully made all the right calls on Friday night. His call to bring in reliever Tony Davis with one out in the seventh inning resulted in an inning-ending double play on the next batter. Good job tonight all around by the Gators against a formidable opponent. Can't wait for tomorrow's game.

-jo-

Thanks Jo, I wasn't throwing the "you made a mistake" dart, just wanting to double-check before heading to the Mecca tommorrow afternoon. We're obviously going to have to play a lot better to beat scUM, though I know B-CC is good.

Gators baseball is solid this year, but in the end, it is going to be tough for a 20-loss team like them to get on a streak good enough to beat some of the top powers int he sport. What everyone needs to be watching is the absolutely DOMINATING performances the Gators softball team is putting on. Sure, last night was a 1-0 victory, but Stacey Nelson is one of the best softball pitchers I've ever seen (along with Monica Abbott and the Olympian whose name is escaping me right now). Two consecutive shutouts on a two-hitter and one-hitter. Girl has 3 losses on the season and strikes out 9-12 batters a game. Francesca Enea has a completely torn ACL and set the UF home run record this year. Semi-finals on Sunday on ESPN!

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