May 30, 2003
No. 14 Florida Atlantic University made its fourth NCAA appearance in five seasons at the Coral Gables NCAA Regional on Friday afternoon. For the fourth time, FAU won its first game of the tournament as it defeated the University of Florida 4-3. Rob Horst led the team with two hits, while Jeff Fiorentino and Rusty Brown increased FAU's home run total to 67.
A big game hitter for FAU (47-14), Brown (N. Fort Myers, FL) came through for FAU in the second inning with FAU's first hit, a home run to right field off of Florida's starting pitcher Justin Hoyman. Hoyman pitched a complete game for Florida (34-20-1) and gave up four runs on seven hits. The sophomore falls to 8-6.
FAU rallied for three hits in the third as Rob Horst started the inning with a single up the middle. Hoyman then recorded one of his six strikeouts before an Evan Brannon single up the middle put runners on first and second. Derek Hutton followed suit with his ninth double of the season and his 33rd RBI. Jeff Fiorentino drove in Brannon for the third run of the game with a ground ball to second base.
The Gators capitalized on a lead off single by Mario Garza in the fifth inning and then rallied with two out as Brett Dowdy singled to keep the inning allow. The number two hitter in the lineup, Jonathan Tucker came two feet away from hitting his first career home run, but the ball bounced off the left field fence for a two-run double to bring Florida within one run.
Another solo home run in the sixth inning by Jeff Fiorentino (Hollywood, FL) padded FAU's lead.
Fiorentino's homer was his team leading 15th of the season.
"I thought I hit the ball well," said Fiorentino. "It had a little wind behind it to help push it out of the park."
Stephen Barton gave UF hope in the eighth with the team's fifth hit, a solo home run to right centerfield off of relief pitcher Matt O'Brien. O'Brien (Royal Palm Beach, FL) worked two innings and only gave up one hit. Chris Pillsbury came out of the pen to record his fifth save of the season and preserved FAU's one run lead. He did give the Gators hope as he gave up two base hits with two outs before Jonathan Tucker grounded out to Brannon at short.
Danny Core (Pembroke Pines, FL) picked up his 10th win of the season as he worked six innings and allowed two runs on six hits.
"I am pleased we played as well as we did," said head coach Kevin Cooney. "We have played in quite a few one run games lately. It was nice to string together hits."
Five of the last six FAU games have been one run contests. FAU has come out on top three times.
Florida Atlantic will play on Saturday at 3:30 pm against the winner of the Miami/Bethune-Cookman contest. The winner of tomorrow's game will advance to the Championship game.