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Tuesday February 20, 2007Baseball Falls To No. 2 Florida State

Gainesville, FL

Second-ranked Florida State (10-0) banged out 20 hits to hand Florida (4-4) a 14-6 setback on Tuesday night in front of 5,140 fans at McKethan Stadium. The crowd was the fourth-largest for a mid-week game in Gator history. Possessing a team batting average of .420 entering the contest, seven players contributed multiple-hit efforts for the Seminoles, led by junior Tony Thomas, Jr. (3-for-5, three runs), junior Jack Rye (3-for-5, two runs) and freshman D’Vontrey Richardson (3-for-5, three runs, three RBI). 


“FSU is a fine offensive club,” said head coach Pat McMahon. “They are swinging the bat as well as any team I have seen at this point in the season. We were disappointed with the outcome tonight, but I was proud of the fact that after they put up a three-spot in the first inning, our guys answered with two. Later, they put up runs, and we answered again. Our guys put in a lot of effort and that is a good sign offensively. We just need to find the right combination in our order. When you are playing up to this kind of level of competition, like FSU, it is great for our team and will give us a lot of answers moving forward.”


The Seminoles jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first against freshman Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.) on three hits and a pair of Gator errors. Thomas singled up the middle on the initial pitch of the game and went to third on a base-hit by junior Mark Hallberg. Chapman had sophomore Buster Posey ground into a 4-6-3 double play and Thomas scored on the grounder. Rye earned a free pass, stole second and came across on junior Dennis Guinn’s single into shallow center field. Rookie Jason Stidham was hit by a pitch, advancing his teammate to second, before a combination of two errors enabled Guinn to score.


In the bottom of the frame, Florida responded with two runs of its own on an RBI grounder by junior Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla.) and a double by freshman Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.) to close the gap to 3-2. Freshman Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) laced a one-out single and senior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) was hit by a pitch from sophomore Bo O’Dell before a wild pitch advanced the runners into scoring position. Barber’s grounder to first plated Figueroa and Pisani’s two-bagger went down the third-base line and bounced off the bag for the Gators’ second tally.    


FSU extended its advantage to 6-2 in the second with four more hits, including three-straight with two down. Richardson doubled to right to start things off and went to third on senior Brandon Reichert’s ground ball. After Thomas was hit by a pitch, Hallberg’s grounder scored Richardson. An infield hit by Posey left the Seminoles with runners on the corners and Rye and Guinn produced consecutive RBI singles for a four-run margin. 


Senior Chris Petrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) picked an opportune time for his first hit of the campaign, belting a two-run homer into the left-field bleachers to pull the Gators within 6-4 in the home portion of the second. Soon after, junior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.) roped a single to end the night for O’Dell (1.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R). LaPorta was hit for the second time in the game by sophomore Travis Burge (1-0) for a pair of runners on base before the reliever struck out Barber.     


Florida State manufactured another run in the fourth against junior Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.). Thomas stroked a single up the middle, swiped second base and later scored following back-to-back groundouts by Hallberg and Posey. UF answered on Figueroa’s third homer with two down in the fourth to reduce its deficit back to two runs.


Stidham cranked his first career round-tripper off the scoreboard with one down in the fifth for an 8-5 Seminole advantage. Barber was hit to lead off the bottom of the stanza and Pisani earned a base on balls before freshman Matt den Dekker’s (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) sacrifice attempt forced Barber at third and prompted a pitching change. Senior Brian Chambers took over on the hill for Burge (3.0 IP, 4 K, 1 H) and retired sophomore Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.) and senior Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) to strand the runners.  


A two-out, two-run triple in the seventh by Thomas increased FSU’s lead to 10-5. Senior pinch hitter Travis Anderson and Richardson greeted sophomore reliever Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) with consecutive one-out singles before the right-hander had Reichert pop up to right. Thomas then ripped a 1-2 offering off the right-field wall for his third hit and first triple of the campaign. Pisani collected his second RBI double of the night to bring across LaPorta, who had also produced a two-bagger, to narrow the gap to 10-6.


Florida State countered with four runs on three hits and a Gator error off senior David Hurst (Jacksonville, Fla.) in the eighth to finalize the 14-6 margin. During the frame, Stidham contributed an RBI single and Richardson blasted a three-run homer into the left-field bleachers with two down for his first career HR. 


FSU’s first five hitters in the lineup were a combined 12-for-27 (.444) with eight runs and seven RBI. Petrie was 3-for-4 and the duo of Figueroa and Pisani had two hits apiece for the hosts. Chambers worked 3.2 innings, giving up four hits and one run, before junior Danny Rosen threw a scoreless ninth. Florida used six different pitchers, with Chapman taking the loss to drop to 1-1. The Gators return to action on Friday night when they face Kent State (0-3) at 6:30 p.m. in the opener of a three-game series at McKethan Stadium.


Game Notes

  • The Gators sent two more balls out of the yard tonight, bringing their HR total to 16.
  • All three of Cole Figueroa’s homers have been solo shots. He has three multiple-hit games in a row.
  • Matt LaPorta went down swinging on strikes in the fourth, his first K in 37 plate appearances this season.
  • Josh Edmondson’s 3.2-inning relief stint matched his career high.




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