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Tuesday February 13, 2007Baseball Overpowers Florida A&M, 15-1

Gainesville, FL

A 19-hit outburst and scoring production in seven of its eight at bats lifted Florida (2-2) to a 15-1 victory over Florida A&M (1-7) in front of 1,262 fans on Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium. In his first collegiate action, freshman Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.) limited the Rattlers to one hit over five innings and totaled four strikeouts. The left-hander was supported by a Gator offense that had 11 different players contribute at least one hit. Freshmen Kyle Mullaney (Jacksonville, Fla.) (6th and 7th) and Clint Franklin (Orlando, Fla.) (9th) also combined for three perfect frames. 


“It was a great feeling out there,” Chapman said. “I wasn’t nervous, but I had a lot of adrenaline going. I was throwing fastballs and curveballs, and both were working well for me. It also helps when my teammates score so many runs. Now, we are 2-2, and that gives us a little more confidence with Miami coming in this weekend.”


Freshman Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.) went 3-for-4 with two RBI, including his first homer and a double, while senior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) and junior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.) each recorded three hits. Florida belted three more homers, giving the club 10 big flies in four games.


“I am very pleased with our ballclub’s performance tonight,” said head coach Pat McMahon. “From an offensive perspective, different guys were seeing the ball better and really swinging hard. We also defended the infield very well. Kevin (Chapman) did a great job. He threw in the strike zone, threw to an advantaged count and had great mound presence. Today was very important to us. We have a lot of respect for the Florida A&M program, and Coach Durant has done an outstanding job with his team. Miami will be a great series this weekend. Winning these in-state games is a goal of ours throughout the season, so we are looking forward to the Miami series starting up.”


The Gators jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on FAMU sophomore Chad Smith’s first two pitches of the game. Townsend roped a double just inside the third-base line to start things off and freshman Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) sent the next offering deep over the right-field wall for his first career home run.


UF tacked on another run in the third on an RBI single by junior Dustin Bamberg (Winter Haven, Fla.) for a 3-0 lead, but left the bases loaded. LaPorta collected his second hit of the game with a leadoff single and moved down to second base on a wild pitch. Sophomore Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.) reached on a throwing error by the Rattler third baseman before Bamberg’s Texas Leaguer dropped into center to score LaPorta. With runners on the corners and two down, Pisani was hit by a pitch to load the bases and end the night for Smith (0-3, 2.2 IP, 7 H). Freshman Miguel Parga had sophomore Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) fly out to left to prevent further damage.     


Neer bashed a two-run homer with two out in the fourth with den Dekker aboard for a 5-0 lead for the hosts. Parga had issued a walk to den Dekker with one down and LaPorta’s grounder moved his teammate into scoring position. Neer stepped to the plate and cranked Smith’s first pitch near the foul pole in left field for his second round-tripper in as many games.


Florida plated two more runs on four hits in the fifth to build a 7-0 advantage. Pisani kept the home-run barrage going to begin the frame with his first career four-bagger to right center. Barnes followed with his first double of the campaign, Townsend stroked a single off Parga’s leg and den Dekker launched an RBI double to the base of the wall to chase the reliever (1.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R). After new pitcher Austin Dill jammed LaPorta on an infield fly, the right-hander plunked Neer to fill the sacks. However, Bamberg grounded into an inning-ending double play.


“I felt really comfortable at the plate,” Pisani said. “It was a huge team effort out there. Guys were moving runners, our pitchers were throwing strikes, and we just did everything we needed to do to win here tonight.”


The Orange and Blue continued the onslaught in the sixth, tallying four runs on three hits, to create an 11-0 bulge. Senior Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) was hit by a pitch to begin the stanza and classmate Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) then delivered a single. A one-out free pass to Barnes loaded the bases and Townsend’s ground ball scored Pride. A wild pitch by Dill brought across freshman pinch runner Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and den Dekker walked before Florida A&M brought in freshman Eddie Thomas to replace Dill (1.2 IP, 1 H, 4 R). LaPorta’s third hit of the night scored Barnes and was followed by a run-scoring single by Neer, his third RBI of the game. 


The home team added a couple more runs in the seventh on an RBI double by Pisani and a sacrifice fly by Barnes to go ahead by 13. Junior pinch hitter Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla.) led off with a walk and went to second on a base-knock by Pride. Barber tagged up and went to third on a fly ball to right from Pigott before Pisani’s second extra-base hit resulted in another run. Barnes lofted the first sac fly of his career to pick up his initial RBI of the season.


Florida A&M avoided the shutout in the eighth, courtesy of a sacrifice fly by senior Anthony Mazzeo off sophomore J.K. LaCoste (Jacksonville, Fla.). Junior Elvin Millan singled up the middle with one down for the Rattlers’ first hit since the second inning and junior David James followed with a single to give FAMU runners on the corners. Mazzeo’s fly to the warning track was the first run allowed by Florida in a span of 17 innings, dating back to the ninth last Saturday against VMI.


In the bottom of the inning, Florida countered with two runs to assume a 15-1 lead. Sophomore pinch hitter Jared Kubin (Oakton, Va.) greeted freshman relief hurler Antonio Birch with a triple to left center and scored on Petrie’s grounder that was thrown wide of first base. After a grounder by freshman Hampton Tignor (Sarasota, Fla.) moved Petrie into scoring position, Barber brought in his teammate with a single up the middle to complete the scoring.   


UF’s 19 hits were its most since registering 20 in a 15-4 victory at Tennessee on April 16, 2006. Den Dekker was 2-for-3 with three runs and three RBI and Neer wound up 2-for-4 and drove in three runs. The quartet of Gator pitchers notched seven strikeouts and had only one walk. 


Florida welcomes fifth-ranked Miami (Fla.) (3-2) to town for a three-game series starting at 6:30 p.m. on Friday. Junior right-hander Bryan Augenstein (Sebastian, Fla.) (0-1, 3.00 ERA) will start the opener for the Gators against Hurricane junior southpaw Scott Maine (1-0, 0.00 ERA).


Game Notes

  • Matt LaPorta extended his hitting streak to six games with a single up the middle in the first inning.
  • Florida has 10 home runs in four games after hitting 52 in 56 outings last season.
  • Jon Townsend and Matt LaPorta each have four multiple-hit efforts in four games.
  • The only inning that UF did not score was the second.
  • The Gators are now 16-0 versus Florida A&M.




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