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Friday March 24, 2006No. 7 USC Takes Opener Against No. 9 Baseball, 4-1

Columbia, SC

Junior Arik Hempy set a career-high with 12 strikeouts as No. 7 South Carolina (20-3/3-1 SEC) topped No. 9 Florida (17-9/2-2 SEC), 4-1, to begin the teams’ SEC weekend series on Friday night at Sarge Frye Field. Hempy (2-1) scattered three hits and yielded just one run over 7.2 innings and sophomore Andrew Cruse picked up his first save of the year with 1.1 scoreless innings. Senior Neil Giesler (2-for-3) extended his hitting streak to a career-high 15 games and drove in a pair of runs, while the Gamecock pitching staff totaled 15 strikeouts, the most against UF this season.  

 

The Gators put their first two runners aboard against Hempy in the second but could not take advantage of the opportunity. Sophomore Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) struck out but reached on a wild pitch and junior Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) drew a walk. The left-hander worked out of the jam by having junior Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) pop up before fanning juniors Chris Petrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee, Fla.).  

 

Although South Carolina loaded the bases with one down in the bottom of the frame, it could not break the ice. Giesler kept his hitting streak going with a leadoff single to right and moved into scoring position on a passed ball. Senior Bryan Ball (Punta Gorda, Fla.) issued consecutive walks to sophomore Trent Kline and freshman Reese Havens to load the bases. The righty had freshman Justin Smoak fly out to right and Dickey made a beautiful running catch at the base of the wall to rob senior Mark Stanley of extra bases.

 

For Florida, junior Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) opened the fourth with a walk and was sacrificed to second by McArthur. Hempy stranded the runner with a strikeout of Leclerc and had Pride fly out to center.

 

The Gamecocks jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the fifth and knocked Ball out of the game. Junior Cheyne Hurst walked to start things off, the right-hander’s career-high sixth free pass issued, and was moved over on a bunt by senior Chris Brown. Senior Michael Campbell roped an RBI double down the left-field line to open the scoring and Giesler punched a single through the right side to drive in his teammate and force a pitching change. Junior David Hurst (Jacksonville, Fla.) replaced Ball (4-3, 4.1 IP, 4H, 2R, 6 BB, 2K) and whiffed junior Drew Martin and Kline.   

 

The Gators cut the deficit in half in the sixth on a sacrifice fly to left by Jeroloman. Juniors Adam Davis (Fort Myers, Fla.) and Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) began the inning with consecutive singles against Hempy, the first hits the southpaw allowed in the contest. The duo advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch and Jeroloman’s third sac fly put UF on the board. A grounder by McArthur pushed LaPorta to third and Hempy induced an inning-ending groundout by Leclerc.

 

South Carolina added two runs in the seventh for a 4-1 lead. Brown led off the frame with a single to left and Campbell roped a 3-2 offering from Hurst for runners on the corners with none out. An RBI grounder by Giesler provided USC with a 3-1 advantage and prompted a UF change on the mound. Martin greeted sophomore reliever Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) with a run-scoring single and advanced to second on a fielding error. Edmondson prevented further scoring by retiring Kline (flyout) and Havens (strikeout). Hurst gave up three hits and two runs over two innings.  

 

LaPorta’s second hit of the game with two down in the eighth ended the night for Hempy and brought in junior Chase Tucker from the bullpen. The reliever plunked Jeroloman and was replaced by Cruse. The right-hander had McArthur pop up his initial pitch for the final out of the inning.

 

Leclerc led off the ninth with a walk and raced over to third on a base-hit to left by Pride. Pride stole second base to give the Gators two runners in scoring position before Cruse slammed the door with three-straight strikeouts of Petrie, Dickey and senior pinch hitter Stephen Barton (Miami, Fla.). South Carolina out-hit the Gators by a 9-4 margin, as Campbell (2-for-3, two runs) and Giesler led the way. Sophomore Bryan Augenstein (Sebastian, Fla.) (5-1, 1.49) will face freshman Mike Cisco (2-0, 1.29) in tomorrow’s second game of the series at 4 p.m.

 

Game Notes

  • Bryan Ball’s previous high of five walks occurred against Mississippi State on May 13, 2005.
  • Matt LaPorta’s sixth-inning single snapped an 0-for-15 career drought against South Carolina.
  • Tonight was Florida’s first contest outside of the Sunshine State this season, game time temperature was 52 degrees.  
  • All of the Gators’ four hits were singles.
  • The opponent has scored first the last five games against Florida.
  • Every starter for the Gators struck out at least once except Austin Pride (1-for-4).

 

-UF-

 

 

 

 

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