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
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,
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
(24-15/7-11 SEC) arrives in town for a weekend series. UF took two of three
from the Bulldogs in Athens
- 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