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Sunday April 23, 2006Auburn Takes Series With 5-4 Victory Over Baseball

Gainesville, FL

Auburn (20-23/8-10 SEC) jumped out to a 4-0 lead on Sunday afternoon and hung on for a 5-4 win over Florida (24-20/6-12 SEC) in front of 3,840 fans at sun-drenched McKethan Stadium. Behind junior right-hander Chris Dennis (3-3), who scattered five hits and surrendered one run over 5.1 innings, the Tigers claimed their second-straight SEC series and first away from the Plains this season. The decision provided AU’s first series victory in Gainesville since 1997 and the club’s first series triumph over the Gators since 2003.


Auburn performed extremely well over the course of this weekend, said head coach Pat McMahon. “We had some defensive miscues early today, but we played our hearts out. David (Hurst) pitched well, and I am very proud of him for that. He kept the game close, and we played well behind him.”


Helped by back-to-back errors, Auburn plated three unearned runs in the opening stanza against freshman Chas Spottswood (Key West, Fla.) (1-2). Senior Tyler Johnstone reached on a Gator throwing error and another miscue on senior Jeff Boutwell’s grounder left the Tigers with runners on the corners. Freshman Mike Bianucci cranked his 11th double of the year to score Johnstone and a fielder’s choice by junior Andy Bennett brought across Boutwell. An RBI grounder by freshman Luke Greinke increased AU’s lead to 3-0.


The Tigers added another run in the second on a double by Johnstone to build a 4-0 advantage. Junior Bruce Edwards walked on four pitches with one down and scored all the way from first on Johnstone’s eighth double. A wild pitch by Spottswood allowed Johnstone to occupy third but the right-hander retired the next two hitters to strand the runner.


Florida had back-to-back infield hits by junior Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) and sophomore Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) with one down in the third. However, Dennis had sophomore Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla.) line into an unassisted double play by Bennett at first base.


Junior David Hurst (Jacksonville, Fla.) replaced Spottswood (2.0 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 1 ER) prior to the third and hurled a career-high 5.1 frames in which he did not surrender a run. The southpaw yielded four hits and totaled three strikeouts without issuing any walks.  


Junior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) put the Gators on the board with a homer to start the bottom of the sixth. The slugger’s 10th round-tripper of the campaign was the 50th of his career, five shy of tying Brad Wilkerson’s school-record 55 dingers. Junior David Cash (Odessa, Fla.) drew a one-out walk and Leclerc singled through the left side to prompt a pitching change. Freshman Paul Burnside took over for Dennis (5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 4 K, 2 BB) and retired McArthur (flyout) before walking Barber to load the bases with two down. The righty induced a foul pop-up by senior pinch hitter Stephen Barton (Miami, Fla.) to preserve the 4-1 margin.


UF threatened in the seventh but came away empty-handed. Junior Adam Davis (Fort Myers, Fla.) opened with a single into right off junior Andy Masten and junior Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) earned a base on balls. Junior Johnny Thompson came out of the bullpen and had LaPorta line into a 6-4 double play before striking out junior Chris Petrie (Jacksonville, Fla.).  


Sophomore Josh Donaldson greeted senior Darren O’Day (Jacksonville, Fla.) with a leadoff homer in the eighth for a 5-1 Tiger lead. The blast landed in the left-field bleachers and was the catcher’s sixth of the campaign.


The Gators tallied three runs on four hits in the bottom of the eighth to pull within 5-4. Cash and Leclerc started with consecutive singles off Greinke and McArthur ripped an RBI single into left to narrow the gap to 5-2. After Greinke fanned Barber, Barton smoked a two-run triple to the corner in right field to reduce UF’s deficit to a run. The reliever worked out of the jam by having Davis and Jeroloman fly out.


In the Gators’ last chance at the plate, LaPorta was hit by a pitch to begin the stanza and Petrie popped up a bunt attempt. Greinke ended the game by setting down Cash (fly out to left) and Leclerc (strikeout). Florida out-hit Auburn by a 10-8 margin, as Leclerc (3-for-5), Davis (2-for-5) and McArthur (2-for-4) each had multiple hits. Donaldson went 3-for-4 and freshman Justin Bristow was 2-for-4 to lift the Tigers. Greinke gave up four hits and three runs over two innings, while O’Day allowed two hits and a run over 1.3 innings. Florida left 11 runners on base, compared to six for Auburn.


Having completed the midweek portion of their schedule, the Gators will not resume action until next Friday night when Georgia (24-15/7-11 SEC) arrives in town for a weekend series. UF took two of three from the Bulldogs in Athens last April. 


Game Notes

  • Florida has fallen in five consecutive SEC series since taking two of three from Arkansas between March 17 and 19.
  • The Gators are now 17-12 at McKethan Stadium this season.
  • Chas Spottswood has an 0-2 record in four conference starts.
  • Matt LaPorta was hit twice this afternoon, giving him nine HBP in 2006.
  • Florida is now 16-2 when it out-hits its opponent.






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