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Friday February 16, 2007Baseball Handles No. 5 Miami, 7-2, In Series Opener

Gainesville, FL

Junior Bryan Augenstein (Sebastian, Fla.) limited fifth-ranked Miami (3-3) to three hits and zero earned runs over seven innings and the Gators (3-2) took advantage of five errors to post a 7-2 win on Friday night in the opener of a weekend series at McKethan Stadium. The right-hander (1-1) registered a season-high seven strikeouts and junior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.) (2-for-4, two runs, two RBI) snapped a scoreless tie with a home run in the fourth as Florida stopped UM for the sixth time in a row.


“Tonight was a wonderful outing for our ballclub,” said head coach Pat McMahon. “You saw two of the outstanding pitchers in college baseball go head-to-head tonight, and that shaped up to be a great match-up and pitchers’ duel. Bryan (Augenstein) competed very well, and we defended the field well, too. Our goal is to get a little better every day, and I think we have thus far. Our guys are growing and starting to understand what it takes to be successful. This is a group of guys who really believe in each other. We still have a lot of work to do, and there is still a lot of baseball left in the weekend. It should be a great series.”


Sophomore Jemile Weeks opened the game with a double to the gap in left center but was gunned down on a bullet by senior left fielder Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) to freshman third baseman Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.). Weeks later collected his second hit with a single up the middle to begin the fourth, only to have senior Roger Tomas pop up a sacrifice attempt. Augenstein snared the fly and threw over to senior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) at first to complete the double play. The right-hander had sophomore Yonder Alonso fly out to right to end the frame.


After being held in check for three-straight at bats by UM junior Scott Maine (1-1), the Gators broke through in the fourth for two runs on four hits to take a 2-0 lead. Townsend made Florida’s initial hit count with a solo homer to start things off for the hosts. His second round-tripper into the left-field bleachers also extended his hitting streak to five games. LaPorta followed with a base-hit, wound up on third base courtesy of a throwing error on the play and scored on a pinch-hit single to center by junior Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla.). Sophomore Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.) ripped his team-leading third double down the left-field line to give the Gators a pair of runners in scoring position with one down, only to have Maine work out of the jam by setting down freshman Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) on an infield fly and Pisani with a strikeout.


“In my first at-bat, I was able to see his change-up, and once you see what a guy is throwing, you can get yourself in a rhythm of what to expect,” Townsend said. “I saw his fastball had a little bit of run to it. It crept over the plate and I was fortunate enough to get a hold of that pitch.”


The Hurricanes threatened in the fifth by putting their first two runners aboard. Freshman Mark Sobolewski reached on a throwing error and sophomore Dennis Raben drew a walk before Augenstein fanned senior Gus Menendez. The righty had sophomore Dave DiNatale ground into an inning-ending 5-3 double play.


Florida countered with two more runs in the home part of the frame to build a 4-0 lead. Pride led off with a double to right center, freshman Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) was plunked by a pitch and Townsend’s sacrifice attempt resulted in the bases full when Pride beat Maine’s relay throw over to third base. Freshman Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) lofted a sacrifice fly to score Pride and LaPorta’s grounder back to Maine was thrown away, allowing Pigott to score the fourth run. Soon after, freshman John Housey came out of the bullpen to replace Maine, who allowed five hits and four runs (three earned) with five K over 4.1 innings. With runners on second and third, Barber pulled back on a squeeze attempt and Townsend was thrown out in a run-down. Housey jammed Barber on a pop-up to second to close the stanza.     


The Gators filled the sacks again in the sixth and added to their lead on a two-out fielding error by UM. den Dekker walked with one down and stole second before Housey issued consecutive free passes to Pisani and senior pinch hitter Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.). The reliever struck out Pigott and induced a grounder to short by Townsend that was misplayed, enabling den Dekker to score. Figueroa went down swinging to keep the margin at 5-0.


Miami used a two-run, two-out single by DiNatale in the seventh to narrow the gap to 5-2 and saw its bid for more denied on a diving catch in left field by Pigott. Tomas started things off with a walk and advanced into scoring position when Alonso’s potential double-play grounder was muffed for an error. Augenstein had Sobolewski line out to left and made Raben his seventh strikeout victim, although the runners moved up on the K. Melendez worked a walk on a 3-2 pitch from Augenstein to fill the sacks and DiNatale fought off a two-strike count with a base-hit through the left side to put the Hurricanes on the board. Senior Richard O’Brien sent a liner to left that Pigott snared with an acrobatic grab to end the frame.  


“My ball had a lot of sink to it, and my movement and location were better tonight,” Augenstein said. “The defense really stepped up behind me, too. It is great when you get run support from your team, but you can never let down, especially against a team like Miami because they can jump at you any time. I stayed a little more composed this weekend and was able to come out with a win.”


Aided by an error, the Gators tacked on two insurance runs in the eighth on an RBI single by Townsend and a sac fly by Barber for the 7-2 final margin. Pigott’s fly ball to right with one down was dropped and he alertly took second before Townsend smacked a base-knock off freshman reliever Anthony Napela to bring across his teammate. The hurler hit Figueroa and LaPorta walked to load the bases before Barber’s sac fly to straightaway center field scored the game’s final run.


Senior Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.) worked the final two innings, yielding one hit, to close the ballgame for the Orange and Blue. Florida held a 7-4 advantage in hits, as Neer (2-for-5) and Townsend had two apiece. Weeks went 2-for-4 out of the leadoff spot for the Hurricanes. Sophomore left-hander Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.) (0-1, 10.38) will oppose UM right-hander Danny Gil (0-0, 6.75) tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m.


Game Notes

  • Matt LaPorta raised his hitting streak to seven games dating back to last season. His career high is nine games from May 18-June 4, 2005.
  • Bryan Augenstein improved to 2-0 in his career against Miami.
  • Bryson Barber had a season-best two RBI.
  • The Gators stranded 10 runners and have left 50 men on base in five games.
  • UF has out-homered its opponents, 11-0, this season.




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