Figueroa’s grand slam lifts Gators

Cole Figueroa belted his second career grand slam in the eighth inning to snap a 2-2 tie and lift the Florida Gators (6-2) to a 6-2 victory over No. 8 Miami (5-1) on Sunday afternoon before another sellout crowd at Mark Light Field. With the bases loaded and one out, Figueroa sent a 2-1 pitch from junior reliever P.J. Fisher over the wall in left for his first home run of the season. Clint Franklin (1-0) threw two scoreless innings to record his first collegiate win, while Stephen Locke yielded one hit over the final two frames without allowing a run to help UF salvage the weekend finale after Miami had won the first two games of the series.

(UF SID contributed to this report)

With the contest tied at 2-2 in the eighth, Jon Townsend legged out a leadoff bunt off Alex Koronis (0-1), who had struck out the side in the seventh after taking over for Chris Hernandez (6.0 IP, 2 H, 7 K). Hampton Tignor advanced his teammate into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and that prompted a pitching change. With Fisher now on the mound, Matt den Dekker reached on third baseman Mark Sobolewski’s second error of the day and Josh Adams followed with another bunt single to load the bases with one down and set the stage for Figueroa’s heroics.

The Hurricanes seemed poised to jump on Florida freshman righthander Tommy Toledo in the first inning. Junior Blake Tekotte drew a leadoff walk, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher Buddy Munroe. Following a walk to Yonder Alonso, Toledo got out of the jam by getting Sobolewski to ground into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.

A two-out error by UM in the second on a ball Clayton Pisani hit to third base enabled senior Dustin Bamberg to score from second with the game’s initial run. Bamberg drew a walk with one down and moved to second on a wild pitch by Hernandez.

Toledo worked out of another jam in the bottom of the frame after yielding a leadoff walk to Joey Terdoslavich and a base-hit into left by Dave DiNatale. Toledo escaped when he got Adam Severino to fly out and Ryan Jackson hit a grounder to third that Townsend converted into a double play.

Tekotte evened the score in the third on his first homer of the season, a one-out shot that cleared the 330-foot mark in right field. Miami threatened again in the fifth, as Severino poked a leadoff single and was sacrificed to second by Jackson. A flyout to right by Yasmani Grandal moved Severino to third but Toledo scooped up a grounder by Tekotte and threw to first to retire the side. 

After being held hitless into the sixth by Hernandez, the Gators used an RBI double into the left-field corner by Adams to take a 2-1 lead. den Dekker had come through with UF’s first hit with a one-out infield single to second base and scored all the way from first on Adams’ second two-bagger.

Miami knotted the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the inning on an RBI grounder by Terdoslavich. Jemile Weeks started things off with a double off the wall in right center to end the afternoon for Toledo, who scattered four hits, gave up two runs, walked three and collected a pair of strikeouts over five innings. Tony Davis walked the lone batter (Alonso) he faced, and was replaced by Franklin. The Hurricanes executed a double steal to move the runners to second and third but Franklin responded with a strikeout of Sobolewski on a 3-2 pitch. Terdoslavich worked the count to 3-2 and grounded out to Brandon McArthur at first to bring in Weeks with the tying run. Franklin kept the affair deadlocked when he got last night’s hero, DiNatale, ground out to Pisani.

UF held a slim 6-5 advantage in hits, with Adams going 2-for-4, and the Gators turned a season-high three double plays. The Gators will begin a 10-game homestand at McKethan Stadium on Tuesday when they host Campbell (3-3) at 6:30 p.m. in the first of a two-game series.