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Saturday May 13, 2006No. 8 Alabama Evens Series With Baseball

Tuscaloosa, AL

Behind the pitching effort of junior Wade LeBlanc and a career-high five runs batted in by senior Spencer Pennington, No. 8 Alabama (35-17/16-10 SEC) evened its weekend series with a 7-2 victory over Florida (26-26/8-18 SEC) on Saturday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Crimson Tide tallied four runs in the third and tacked on three more runs in the fifth to build a 7-0 advantage in snapping a four-game slide. Junior left-hander Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.) (2-0, 2.14) will pitch for the Gators in tomorrow’s rubber game against UA freshman right-hander Tommy Hunter (7-3, 3.29). The contest will air live on Sun Sports at 2 p.m.

 

Alabama jumped out to a 4-0 lead with four hits in the third inning against senior Bryan Ball (Punta Gorda, Fla.). Senior Matt Downs was hit by a pitch with one down, rookie Alex Avila followed with a single up the middle and senior Evan Bush walked on four pitches to load the bases. Rookie Ryan Rhoden had an RBI grounder to short to bring across Downs with the first run and Pennington smoked a two-run single. Senior David Ferazza launched a double to deep left field to give the Crimson Tide a pair of runners in scoring position and junior Brandon Belcher stroked a base-hit into left to score Pennington with the fourth run. However, junior left fielder Chris Petrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) fired a bullet to junior Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) to nail Ferazza at the plate to end the frame.  

 

The Gators put their first two runners on base in the fifth but could not push anything across. Sophomore Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla.) opened the stanza with Florida’s initial hit, a single into right field, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Sophomore Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) poked a base-hit to right for two runners aboard before LeBlanc answered with back-to-back strikeouts of Petrie and junior Adam Davis (Fort Myers, Fla.). The second K gave the southpaw 100 strikeouts on the season, becoming the first Alabama hurler to reach the century mark twice in his career. LeBlanc had Jeroloman fly out to center field to strand the runners.

 

The Crimson Tide expanded its lead to 7-0 in the fifth on a three-run homer by Pennington. Bush started things off with a single through the left side and Rhoden’s laser ricocheted off McArthur’s glove for another hit. Pennington then tagged a 1-2 offering from Ball over the right-field wall for his second round-tripper of the campaign to chase the righty from the game. Ball (4-9) allowed nine hits and was charged with seven earned runs over four innings, with two walks and zero strikeouts.

 

Junior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) cranked his team-leading 13th homer deep over the left-field wall to put the Gators on the scoreboard at the start of the sixth. LaPorta’s 53rd career four-bagger ended a 0-for-13 drought and moved him within two home runs of Brad Wilkerson’s standard of 55. Ten of the slugger’s 13 blasts this season have come against SEC competition.

 

Davis connected on his sixth homer of the year with two down in the seventh for a 7-2 count. It was Davis’ first jack since March 29 versus South Florida and the 14th solo shot of his three-year career. After LeBlanc issued a walk to Jeroloman, he was replaced by junior Jake McCarter. In raising his season ledger to 8-0, the lefty gave up four hits, two runs and four walks over 6.2 innings. With eight strikeouts, LeBlanc equaled UA’s career mark of 307 held by Brent Carter.

 

Alabama held a 10-4 advantage in hits, although junior Emeel Salem’s hitting streak was halted at 13 games with a 0-for-5 performance. Pennington went 2-for-4 with five RBI and two runs, while Belcher (2-for-3) and junior Greg Paiml chipped in with multiple-hit efforts for the hosts. Making his team-high 32nd appearance, sophomore Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) threw four scoreless innings and permitted just one hit for Florida. McCarter was perfect over 2.1 frames for the Tide and had a couple of strikeouts.

 

Game Notes

  • Today was the 54th start of Bryan Ball’s career, moving him to within one of Marc Valdes’ school record established from 1991-93.
  • Ball has dropped his last seven decisions since a 6-3 victory over Arkansas on March 17.
  • The Gators split the first two games of a conference series for the fifth time this year. UF is seeking to improve on its 1-3 mark tomorrow.  
  • Florida is now 8-13 against opposing left-handers this year and 4-22 when its foe scores first.

 

-UF-

 

 

 

 

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