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Monday February 19, 2007No. 2 Florida State Visits Baseball For Mid-Week Clash

Gainesville, FL

After taking two of three games from fifth-ranked Miami (Fla.) at McKethan Stadium over the weekend, the Gators (4-3) will host No. 2 Florida State (9-0) at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday night in the first of three meetings between the squads in 2007. The teams will also tangle on April 3 at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville and at Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee on April 18. UF and FSU split two meetings last year, with each club winning on its opponent’s home field.


Freshman Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.) (1-0, 0.00) draws the starting assignment for the Gators and will be on the bump for the second time in his collegiate career. In his debut last Tuesday night, the southpaw held Florida A&M to a single over five scoreless innings with four strikeouts and one walk. He will be opposed by FSU sophomore RHP Bo O’Dell (1-0, 0.00).


It should not come as a surprise, but nine of Florida’s top-10 crowds in school history have come against the Seminoles, including the top five mid-week games. Although the seating capacity is listed at 5,500 following the McKethan Stadium expansion project, there are areas for standing-room only overlooking left field and along the terrace above right field. The top crowd in school history is 5,698, achieved in the second game of the 2005 NCAA Super Regional on June 11, 2005, when UF upended Florida State, 8-5, to advance to the College World Series.


UF extended its winning streak over Miami (Fla.) to a school-record seven games before falling in Sunday’s finale, 10-7. The series victory marked the third-straight time that Florida had defeated UM, a feat it had never accomplished. In the opener, junior Bryan Augenstein (Sebastian, Fla.) limited Miami to three hits and zero earned runs over seven innings and the Gators took advantage of five errors to post a 7-2 win. The right-hander registered a season-high seven strikeouts and junior shortstop Jon Townsend (London, Ky.) (2-for-4, two runs, two RBI) snapped a scoreless tie with a home run in the fourth. On Saturday, UF sent 10 batters to the plate during a five-run fourth inning and used strong relief pitching to collect a 7-5 win. Sophomore reliever Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) notched his first career win, while senior David Hurst (Jacksonville, Fla.) picked up his first save with 1.2 scoreless frames. Freshman Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) delivered a pinch-hit, two-run single as part of the fourth-inning outburst, while classmate Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) was 2-for-5 with two RBI and Townsend chipped in with two hits.


LaPorta continues to pace the Gators’ offense, as the slugger batted .400 (6-for-15) over his team’s four outings last week. On the season, LaPorta has a .481 clip and also leads Florida in slugging percentage (.926), on-base percentage (.588), RBI (9), walks (5) and home runs (4). He went 3-for-5 with an RBI and stolen base in the 15-1 victory over Florida A&M last Tuesday and was 3-for-10 (.300) in the squad’s 2-1 series triumph over UM. In the final game of the set, LaPorta was 2-for-4 with a pair of homers and matched his career-best of five RBI.


Townsend, the Gators’ leadoff hitter, has a .419 average and produced six multiple-hit outings in seven games. Although the series finale with Miami marked the first time this season the shortstop failed to collect a hit, he drew two walks and scored twice. Figueroa is hitting .333 with four runs, four RBI and two HR. His father, Bien, was an All-American at Florida State in 1986 and later played in the Major Leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals. Sophomore catcher Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.) (.296) has driven in six runs and five of his eight hits this year have gone for extra bases, while senior outfielder Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) has a .357 clip. Seniors Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.) and Hurst junior Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) have anchored Florida's bullpen by working a total of 17.1 innings without yielding an earned run.


In the teams' last meeting, a five-run second inning powered the Gators to an 8-3 victory over fifth-ranked Florida State on April 19, 2006. The teams endured a pair of weather delays totaling two hours and six minutes. The contest had started in front of 6,249 fans, the eighth-largest crowd in Dick Howser Stadium history. Gavin Dickey went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer and matched his career-high of four RBI, while LaPorta was 2-for-4 with a solo shot, two RBI and two runs. Edmondson worked 1.2 innings to raise his mark to 5-0 and the duo of Porter (2.1 IP) and Darren O’Day (2.0 IP) held the high-powered Florida State attack scoreless. The triumph was the 550th of Pat McMahon’s career and enabled the Gators to split the two-game season series.


Florida State leads the all-time series, 111-90-1, although the Gators have a 48-45 advantage in Gainesville. UF has taken seven of the last 11 meetings.







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