Sunday February 11, 2007LaPorta Sets Home Run Record; Baseball Blanks VMI, 7-0
Senior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) became Florida’s all-time leader with his 56th career home run and freshman Billy Bullock (Valrico, Fla.) hurled 5.2 scoreless innings in his collegiate debut to lift the Gators (1-2) to a 7-0 win over VMI (2-1) on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. LaPorta opened the home part of the seventh by mashing the first pitch from senior reliever Ian Casher over the wall in left center to break a tie atop the school list with Brad Wilkerson. It was the slugger’s second dinger in as many days and he batted a sizzling .583 (7-for-12) in the series.
“I was telling myself to relax and I got a good
swing to get it out of the yard,” LaPorta said. “It
didn’t really hit me as I was running the bases, but when I sat down in the
dugout it hit me that I had the
A 6’6” right-hander, Bullock scattered four hits and registered four strikeouts and the duo of junior Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) and senior David Hurst (Jacksonville, Fla.) held the Keydets to one hit over 3.1 innings to complete UF’s first shutout since Feb. 10, 2006 (10-0 over Cincinnati). The Gator offense pounded out 13 hits, highlighted by four home runs, to salvage the finale of the weekend set.
“I was extremely proud of our team today,” said head coach Pat McMahon. “After Friday and Saturday, I was so pleased with the way our ballclub performed and responded to those games today. This afternoon, you saw some players against outside competition who were more comfortable in that arena, and that is a big part of the success equation. Billy (Bullock) did a tremendous job. We needed a great outing today, and he came through for us. I am also so proud to have Matt (LaPorta) in our program. He does so much in a leadership role. You look at the great players at UF, and there have been some great home run hitters. Now, Matt stands in that role as well.”
UF used the long ball again in the third, as
sophomore Cody Neer
Bullock set down the first two Keydets in the sixth before yielding a double down the right-field line to Yoder. With the runner in scoring position, Edmondson was called out of the bullpen to replace the rookie. After issuing a walk to senior Robert Crumpler, the righty had sophomore Michael Roberts fly out to the warning track in right to strand the runners and preserve the 4-0 lead.
“It was really exciting out there today,” Bullock said. “Our team got off to an early lead so it was pretty easy to pitch once we got started. I was a little more comfortable than I would have been if we were down. The guys were putting runs on the board, and four home runs really help a lot when you’re pitching.”
The hosts added two more runs in the seventh for a
six-run advantage. Following LaPorta’s historic blast,
the Gators manufactured another tally with two down. Freshman Matt den Dekker (