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Sunday February 18, 2007No. 5 Miami Upends Baseball, 10-7, In Series Finale

Gainesville, FL

Fifth-ranked Miami (4-4) salvaged the final game of its weekend series with a 10-7 victory over Florida (4-3) at McKethan Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The Hurricanes’ relievers, led by sophomore Jason Santana (1-0), allowed just one earned run over 8.1 innings to end a seven-game losing streak to the Gators.


“It was a terrific series this weekend,” said head coach Pat McMahon. “There were so many fans who came out and supported us, even through the weather conditions. Billy (Bullock) came back and pitched very well in the second and third innings, and not a lot of young guys can do that so I think he grew up a lot playing against Miami. Matt (LaPorta) had great at-bats with two home runs. What I was pleased with today was that even though Miami jumped out to a 4-0 lead, we turned it right around and put numbers on the board. Then, they came back in the fourth, and we had quality hits but unfortunately, they were right at people. We put the tying run at the plate there at the end to battle back, but couldn’t pull away with it. Our guys were tough through the adversity and conditions this weekend, and I was proud of that response.”


Sophomore Jemile Weeks was 4-for-5 and classmate Yonder Alonso went 3-for-4 with three RBI to power the Hurricanes, while UF senior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) belted two homers and drove in five runs to match his career high. After Miami scored a pair of runs in the ninth, LaPorta came up with two men aboard in the bottom of the inning but junior Enrique Garcia had the slugger ground into a game-ending double play. A crowd of 12,083 watched the three-game series, the third-highest total at home in school history.


The Hurricanes shot out of the gates with four runs on five hits against freshman Billy Bullock (Valrico, Fla.) in the first inning. Weeks opened the game with a triple off the wall in left center and scored on an RBI grounder by senior Roger Tomas. Alonso bashed the right-hander’s next pitch into the left-field bleachers for his team-leading fifth homer and second of the series. Sophomore Dennis Raben drew a two-out walk, advanced on freshman Ryan Jackson’s base-hit through the right side and scored freshman Mark Sobolewski’s single into center. Senior Richard O’Brien laced an RBI single to left, driving in Jackson, and a walk to sophomore Blake Tekotte loaded the bases. Bullock had Weeks, the 10th batter of the inning, ground out to keep the margin at 4-0. 


Florida answered immediately in the bottom of the frame, plating five runs and five hits, and knocked out UM junior starter Manny Miguelez. Junior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.) started things off with a walk and freshman Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) followed with a base-hit to right before LaPorta connected on his third homer of the year with a shot off the scoreboard overlooking right field. Senior Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) kept things going with a base-hit into right center and came across with the tying run on an RBI single by sophomore Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.). After junior Dustin Bamberg (Winter Haven, Fla.) flew out, freshman Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.) provided the Gators with a 5-4 lead with a knock up the middle.   


Miami grabbed an 8-5 advantage in the fourth, courtesy of four runs, three hits and three Gator wild pitches. After Weeks drew a one-out walk and Tomas laced a base-hit above Figueroa at second, Bullock uncorked a wild pitch to move the runners into scoring position. Alonso ripped a two-run single past a diving LaPorta to move the ’Canes in front and end the afternoon for Bullock (3.1 IP, 7 H, 7 R). Freshman Kyle Mullaney (Jacksonville, Fla.) had sophomore Dave DiNatale’s grounder force Alonso at second base and then had a pair of wild pitches to push the runner to third. Raben and Jackson earned consecutive free passes to fill the sacks and Sobolewski’s single to right resulted in two more runs for the visitors.


Santana did not allow a hit to Florida for 3.2 innings before Pride socked a double with one down in the fourth. The two-bagger caused a pitching change, as freshman John Housey came out of the bullpen for UM. The rookie right-hander struck out freshman Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and had Neer ground out.   


LaPorta’s second homer of the contest pulled the Gators within 8-7 in the seventh stanza. Townsend reached on a leadoff error and advanced to second on Figueroa’s grounder before the slugger launched a round-tripper to straightaway center field off Housey for the fourth multi-HR game of his career. With two down, Miami elected to bring Raben in from right field to the mound and the move paid off when the lefty had senior pinch hitter Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) ground out.


“This was big for us to be able to take two of three against great competition like Miami, especially since we are so young,” LaPorta said. “We played three games and nobody gave up once. Everyone was on their top step every game of this series, even today when they went up in the first inning. We could have hung our heads and thought it wasn’t that big of a deal because we had already won two, but we didn’t. We played until the last out was made. One of our goals is to be the best in-state team, so this weekend was a good experience to prepare us for FSU.”


Alonso doubled for UM to begin the eighth and advanced to third on a fly-out to center by Raben. Junior Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) came in for senior Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.) and induced an inning-ending ground ball by Jackson. Porter had a career-long relief stint of 3.2 innings in which he scattered three hits and did not permit a run with three K.


The visitors added two insurance runs in the ninth a bases-loaded grounder by senior pinch hitter Gus Menendez and a walk by DiNatale. The Hurricanes loaded them up with one down as O’Brien reached on a fielding error, Tekotte singled and Weeks greeted senior reliever David Hurst (Jacksonville, Fla.) with a flare into right field. Menendez’s high bouncer to third was enough to score O’Brien for a two-run lead. Following an intentional walk to Alonso, Hurst walked DiNatale after a long at bat to bring across Tekotte. The southpaw rebounded to catch Raben looking on strikes to strand the trio of runners.


The Gators made things interesting with one out in the ninth against Garcia, as Townsend drew a walk and Figueroa stroked a single into left field. With the tying run at the plate in the form of LaPorta, the reliever induced a game-ending double play to collect his first save of the campaign.


UM out-hit Florida, 13-8, but stranded 13 runners. Sobolewski (2-for-5, three RBI) also turned in a multiple-hit effort for the Hurricanes, while Figueroa, LaPorta and Pride had two hits apiece for the Gators. Florida returns to action on Tuesday night when it hosts No. 5 Florida State (9-0) at 6:30 p.m. The squads split a pair of meetings last season, with each club winning on its opponent’s home field.   


Game Notes

  • The Gators’ five runs in the first matched their total in the fourth inning yesterday.
  • The teams combined for nine runs and 10 hits with zero defensive errors during the first frame.
  • Today was UM’s first win over Florida since Feb. 18, 2005, 9-7, at McKethan Stadium.
  • Jon Townsend’s seven-game hitting streak came to an end with an 0-for-3 performance.
  • Florida has 14 home runs in seven games this year.




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