Sophomore Bryan Augenstein (Sebastian, Fla.)
worked 8.1 innings and the duo of junior David
Hurst (Jacksonville, Fla.)
and senior Darren O’Day
(Jacksonville, Fla.) each recorded an out with two
Alabama runners aboard in the bottom of the ninth as Florida (26-25/8-17 SEC)
nipped the eighth-ranked Crimson Tide (34-17/15-10 SEC), 4-3, on a wild Friday
night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Augenstein (9-5) scattered eight hits,
registered six strikeouts, and allowed three sixth-inning runs as the Gators
claimed the opener of a Southeastern Conference series for the first time since
March 17. O’Day collected his eighth save in nine
opportunities with a dramatic strikeout to close the contest. In the second matchup, Florida will send
senior RHP Bryan Ball (Punta Gorda, Fla.) (4-8, 5.15) to the hill tomorrow at 5 p.m. against junior LHP Wade
LeBlanc (7-0, 3.02).
Thanks to a fortuitous bounce, Florida took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a two-out
RBI single by junior Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.).
Junior Adam Davis (Fort
Myers, Fla.) opened the game with
a single up the middle off junior Bernard Robert and was sacrificed into
scoring position by junior Brian Jeroloman (Wellington,
Fla.). Robert was a late
starter after Alabama
elected to push LeBlanc back a day. After junior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.)
drew a walk, a fielder’s choice by junior David
Cash (Odessa, Fla.)
forced Davis at
third. The Gators caught a break when Pride’s grounder caromed off the lip of
the infield grass at third into the outfield for a single, allowing LaPorta to score the game’s opening run.
Salem extended his hitting to 13 games with a leadoff single in the bottom of
the first before junior Brian Leclerc (Clearwater,
Fla.) robbed senior Matt
Downs of potential extra bases with a leaping grab against the right-field
wall. Augenstein struck out freshman Alex Avila and Jeroloman gunned down SEC stolen-base leader Salem attempting to swipe
second to end the frame. It was the 16th runner caught stealing for the Gators’
Junior Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee,
Fla.) led off the second with
his 11th home run to left center to give UF a 2-0 advantage. It was his first
round-tripper since April 21 versus Auburn,
moving him to within one of LaPorta’s team-leading
total of 12. Back-to-back one-out singles by sophomore Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) and Davis
later put the Gators in good shape. Robert caught Jeroloman
looking on strikes and walked LaPorta on four pitches
to load the bases but wiggled out of jam by having Cash fly out to center.
The visitors increased their margin
to 3-0 in the third on a single by Leclerc. Pride
started the frame with a free pass, stole second base and was driven in
courtesy of a liner to right from his teammate. Pride is a perfect 5-for-5 on
the basepaths in league action while Leclerc’s RBI was his 25th.
McArthur led off the sixth with a
base-hit up the middle and was moved over on a bunt by Davis. A fielding error on Jeroloman’s grounder gave the Gators runners on the corners
with one down and LaPorta drew his career-high fourth
walk to fill the sacks. Senior Jordan Davis was called out of the bullpen to
replace Robert (6-5, 5.1 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 4 K) and allowed an RBI
grounder to second by Cash for a 4-0 Florida
lead. The reliever prevented further problems by fanning Pride on three pitches
to bring UF’s runners left on base to 10.
The Crimson Tide countered with
three runs on four hits in home part of the sixth to trim the deficit to 4-3.
After retiring seven-straight batters, Augenstein
plunked junior Greg Paiml with one down and Salem followed with his
third hit of the night. Oddly enough, Alabama’s
fourth hit of the contest was the first to reach the outfield. Dickey made a
diving stab in center against Downs for the second out and Avila smoked an RBI single through the right
side to narrow the gap to 4-1. Senior Kody Valverde and senior Evan Bush punched consecutive two-out
base-knocks for a 4-3 count before Augenstein had
sophomore Matt Bentley fly out to left.
In the eighth, Jeroloman
and LaPorta earned back-to-back walks with one out
from Davis. LaPorta’s fifth free pass matched the single-game record by
a Gator held by Brad Wilkerson, who had five against Florida State
on March 3, 1996. Davis induced fly balls from
Cash and sophomore pinch hitter Bryson
Barber (Pensacola, Fla.) to give Florida
13 runners stranded.
Dickey cranked a triple off the base
of the wall in right center field with one out in the ninth and was thrown out
at the dish on an 8-6-2 relay. There was a confrontation at the plate between
Dickey and Crimson Tide catcher Valverde, emptying
both benches and resulting in the ejection of both players, in addition to
Barber, junior Chris Petrie (Jacksonville, Fla.)
for UF and sophomore Josh Copeland and Robert for UA.
Alabama put two runners aboard in the ninth
but the Gators held on for the 4-3 victory. Bentley lofted a Texas Leaguer into shallow center to reach with one down in the
ninth and was replaced by freshman pinch runner Jeff Texada.
Augenstein walked freshman pinch hitter Ryan Rhoden on four pitches and was lifted in favor of Hurst,
who had junior Brandon Belcher fly out to senior center fielder Chris Woods (Gainesville, Fla.).
O’Day closed the door by whiffing Paiml
on a 3-2 pitch to end the ballgame.
Florida out-hit Alabama, 11-8, led by Davis (3-for-4),
Dickey (3-for-5) and Leclerc (2-for-5). Salem was 3-for-4 for the
Crimson Tide, raising his average to .376. UF left 13 runners on base, compared
to six for the hosts.
- Bryan Augenstein threw
at least seven innings for the 12th time in his 14 starts.
- Matt LaPorta was the
first Gator to have four walks in a game since Brian Jeroloman
on March 21, 2004. His five free passes matched Brad Wilkerson’s
single-game school record.
- David Cash (0-for-5) stranded 10 runners on
- Brian Jeroloman threw
out Emeel Salem twice and did not permit a
- The Gators took the series opener for the first
time since a 6-3 triumph over Arkansas
on St. Patrick’s Day.