Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF Facing Drought in Miami

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF Facing Drought in Miami

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael DiRocco, Times-Union sports writer

CORAL GABLES -- Matt Goss wouldn't even let the reporter finish the question before he jumped in with his answer.

The University of Florida hasn't won in Coral Gables in a long time and does that . . .

"No. No," Goss said. "We don't think or talk about not winning at Mark Light Stadium."

As much as Goss wants to downplay the issue, it's something the Gators must face. If UF is to make it out of the NCAA Regional this weekend at Mark Light Stadium, the Gators are going to have to face Miami at least once.

And when they do, they not only will have to overcome the nation's No. 1 team, they'll also have to fight through five years of futility against the Hurricanes. UF has not beaten Miami at Mark Light Stadium in its past 12 tries. The Gators' last victory in Miami was the first game of the 1996 season.

"I kind of refuse to let those things bother me," said UF coach Andy Lopez, who was knocked out of the 1997 Atlantic I Regional by the host Hurricanes in 1997. "I'd rather look at . . . that it's a good thing because [winning in Coral Gables] is going to happen eventually. It has to happen. Maybe it'll happen this weekend."

But before UF can even begin to think about Miami, the Gators (34-25) must get by a Stetson team today (3:30 p.m.) that beat them twice this year, including a 21-17 slugfest in Gainesville. The Hatters (41-15) will throw likely first-round pick Lenny DiNardo.

The Gators are confident for two reasons. UF's pitching staff is the healthiest it has been this season. And UF's games against Stetson were midweek games with Southeastern Conference games looming on the weekend -- a mixture that produces a natural letdown -- and UF used its top pitchers very little.

"Midweek games are a little different," Lopez said. "Nobody wants to admit it. I hate to admit it. You can tell [your players] they're facing the New York Yankees, but they're all looking at each other after they hear you and they say, 'Yeah, but Mississippi State is showing up on Friday.' "

Outfielder Matt Siegel said the Gators aren't doing that now, though. They are concentrating on playing better against Miami and Stetson, especially since the Hatters ripped UF pitchers for 22 hits in that April 11 loss.

"Obviously we didn't have too much success against Miami and Stetson this year, but we're 0-0 and ready to play our best baseball," he said.

NCAA DIVISION I CORAL GABLES REGIONAL

Today, Mark Light Stadium

-- 3:30 p.m.: Florida (34-25) vs. Stetson (41-15)

-- 7 p.m.: Miami (44-12) vs. Bucknell (31-17)

NCAA DIVISION I TALLAHASSEE REGIONAL

Today, Dick Howser Stadium

-- 3 p.m.: Auburn (35-19) vs. Jacksonville University (38-23)

-- 7 p.m.: Florida State (43-17) vs. Bethune-Cookman (26-32)

NCAA DIVISION I CORAL GABLES REGIONAL

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