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Friday April 21, 2006Auburn Takes Series Opener Over Baseball, 9-6

Gainesville, FL

Auburn (19-22/7-9 SEC) parlayed a seven-run second inning on Friday night into a 9-6 win over Florida (23-19/5-11 SEC) at McKethan Stadium. After the Tigers built an 8-0 lead, the Gators narrowed the gap to 8-6 in the fourth before AU’s pitchers responded with five scoreless innings to end a six-game losing streak to Florida.


Sophomore Brett Butts (3-5) picked up the win with a five-inning outing in which he gave up eight hits and six runs, with three strikeouts and two walks. Freshman Luke Greinke was 3-for-5 with two RBI and collected his team-leading fifth save for the Tigers. Senior Bryan Ball (Punta Gorda, Fla.) fell to 4-6 for the hosts by lasting just 1.1 innings. UF sophomore right-hander Bryan Augenstein (Sebastian, Fla.) (7-3, 2.69) will face Tiger rookie southpaw Evan Crawford (4-4, 3.86) in tomorrow's SEC-TV Game of the Week that begins at 4 p.m.


“We put ourselves in position to be right where we wanted to be tonight,” said head coach Pat McMahon. “I have to credit Auburn for their two-strike approach and putting the ball in play. They swung the bat very well. I am proud of the way we kept piecing it together and battling back. We put the tying run at the plate in the end, but it’s hard to come back from an 8-0 deficit.”


Freshman Mike Bianucci gave the Tigers a quick lead with an RBI double in the opening frame off Ball. Senior Tyler Johnstone poked a leadoff single, stole his team-leading 13th base with one down and scored on Bianucci’s 10th two-bagger.


Auburn batted around in the second stanza and plated seven runs on seven hits to build an 8-0 advantage. Greinke sliced a base-hit into right field to start things off and classmate Justin Bristow came through on a hit-and-run to give the visitors runners on the corners with one down. Sophomore Josh Stapleton drew a walk to fill the sacks and Ball uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Greinke to score and the runners to advance. Johnstone cleared the bases with a two-run single for a 4-0 Tiger lead and senior Jeff Boutwell was hit by a pitch. Bianucci connected on a single to load the bases again and junior Andy Bennett roped a two-run double to the wall in right for a 6-0 lead to chase Ball. Greinke laced a two-run single with two down off sophomore Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) to put AU ahead by eight runs. Ball was roughed up for seven hits and eight runs over 1.1 innings, his shortest stint since working 1.1 at Auburn last April.


The Gators got on the board in the bottom of the frame on a two-out RBI single by sophomore Brandon McArthur (Seffner. Fla.). Junior David Cash (Odessa, Fla.) singled into left with two down and sophomore Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla.) drew a walk from Butts before McArthur notched his 17th RBI.


Florida pulled within 8-4 in the third on a throwing error with two down that allowed a couple of runs to come across and an RBI single by Cash. Junior Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) punched a one-out single but was forced at second on junior Matt LaPorta’s (Port Charlotte, Fla.) fielder’s choice. A base-hit up the middle by junior Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) gave the Gators runners on the corners and junior Chris Petrie’s (Jacksonville, Fla.) grounder was thrown away, enabling both of his teammates to score. With Petrie aboard at third courtesy of the miscue, Cash legged out an infield hit to bring UF with four but was thrown out trying to occupy second.


Junior Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee, Fla.) picked an opportune time to extend his hitting streak to 11 games with a two-run blast into the batting cage in right center to reduce Florida’s deficit to 8-6 in the fourth. With McArthur aboard courtesy of one-out walk, Dickey pounded his 10th homer on Butts’ initial offering with two out in the inning. It was the third-straight game in which the outfielder had connected on a round-tripper. Sophomore Russell Dixon led off the fifth with a solo homer to right for a 9-6 Tiger lead.


UF squandered a chance to cut into Auburn’s lead after LaPorta and Leclerc had back-to-back singles to begin the home portion of the fifth. Butts had Petrie fly out to left and induced an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play by Cash.


Edmondson limited the Tigers to one run over a career-high 4.2 innings and was replaced prior to the seventh by junior Kris Gawriluk (Deltona, Fla.). Gawriluk tossed three scoreless frames, scattering two hits, and registered two strikeouts to keep the Gators within striking distance. Freshman Paul Burnside fired three perfect innings for Auburn in relief of Butts before turning the game over to Greinke in the ninth. The closer permitted a two-out single to senior Chris Woods (Gainesville, Fla.) and walked Jeroloman before having LaPorta fly out to left to end the contest.


Auburn out-hit the Gators, 15-9, as six different players turned in multiple-hit outings. In addition to Greinke’s three hits, Johnstone (2-for-5, two RBI, two runs), Bianucci (2-for-5), Bennett (2-for-5, two RBI), Donaldson (2-for-5) and Dixon (2-for-4) powered the Tigers’ offense. Cash and Leclerc were each 2-for-4 to lead Florida.


Game Notes

  • Of their six SEC series, the Gators have dropped the opener five times.
  • Each team left six runners on base.
  • Florida fell to 16-11 at home after going 32-11 at McKethan Stadium last season.
  • The Gators did not commit an error for the fourth time in five games.






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