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Tuesday February 27, 2007Seven-Run Ninth Lifts Baseball Over USF, 10-5

Tampa, FL

Before an overflow crowd of 2,426 fans at Red McEwen Field on Tuesday night, Florida (6-6) overcame a 5-3 ninth-inning deficit with seven runs to stun USF (9-2), 10-5. With the game tied at 5-5 and two down, freshman Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) smacked a bases-clearing triple off senior Danny Otero (3-1) to give the Gators their first lead and sophomores Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.) and Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) followed with insurance hits.


Freshman Kyle Mullaney (Jacksonville, Fla.) (1.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R) notched his first career victory and senior David Hurst (Jacksonville, Fla.) struck out sophomore Addison Maruszak with the bases full to end the game. It was the first home defeat for the Bulls after eight-consecutive wins.


Down to their last at bat, the Gators broke through with seven runs on five hits and a USF error. Barnes stroked a leadoff single up the middle and junior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.) reached on a throwing error by Otero, giving UF two runners in scoring position. An RBI grounder by freshman Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) closed the margin to 5-4 and senior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) provided a game-tying double into left. Freshman Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.) worked a walk from Otero and a wild pitch on the final throw allowed freshman pinch runner Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) to occupy third. After junior pinch hitter Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla.) earned a free pass to fill the bases with one down, Otero fanned freshman Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.). Den Dekker then launched his first career triple down the left-field line to plate all of his teammates and provide Florida with an 8-5 advantage. Neer followed with an infield hit that scored den Dekker and Barnes kept the hit parade going with an RBI double for a 10-5 cushion.


The combination of an error and a wild pitch had given the Bulls a 2-0 lead in the third. Junior Joey Angelberger collected the game’s first hit with a leadoff double off the center field wall and moved to third on a one-out throwing error. Freshman Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.) uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Angelberger to come across and sophomore Braulio Prado to occupy third. A ground ball by junior Walter Diaz brought home USF’s second run.


Florida answered with a run in the fourth on an RBI fielder’s choice by senior Chris Petrie (Jacksonville, Fla.). LaPorta and Pisani had opened the inning with consecutive singles off rookie Matt Quevedo. A fly ball to the warning track by senior Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) pushed LaPorta to third and Petrie’s grounder to first forced Pride but enabled the Gators to trim the deficit to 2-1.


In the bottom of the frame, USF tacked on a run before the Gators turned a key 6-4-3 inning-ending double play. Maruszak and junior Charles Cleveland started things off with back-to-back singles and were moved into scoring position on a bunt by junior Brandin Daniel. Junior Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) replaced Chapman (3.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER) and was greeted by a base-knock up the middle from Angelberger. The right-hander prevented further problems by having junior Josh LeRoy ground out to short that resulted in UF’s 10th double play of the season.


The hosts increased their lead to 4-1 in the fifth by manufacturing a run. Pardo rifled a leadoff double down the left-field line and Diaz laid down a sac bunt before junior Dexter Butler’s grounder resulted in the fourth run.


Neer came through with a two-run pinch-hit single with the bases full in the sixth to narrow the gap to 4-3. LaPorta was hit for the fifth time to open the frame and Pride drew a one-out base on balls to end the night for Quevedo. Making his first start, the righty allowed three hits and three runs over 5.1 innings. Junior Davis Bilardello had pinch hitter Pigott force LaPorta at third before a pinch-hit single by freshman Jake Hicks (Molino, Fla.) loaded the sacks. Neer roped the reliever’s next offering into left to bring the Gators within a run.        


Figueroa extended his hitting streak to seven games with a single with one out in the seventh, prompting a pitching change. Rookie Shawn Sanford came out of the bullpen and had LaPorta fly out to right before Figueroa swiped second base. Undaunted, the hurler had Pisani tap out to third to preserve the lead.


Otero, the reigning Big East Pitcher of the Week after firing a complete game last Friday, retired the first two Gators in the eighth before den Dekker punched a single up the middle. The right-hander responded by having Neer ground out.


Cleveland provided the Bulls with an additional run with an RBI single to right field off senior Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.) for a 5-3 edge. Butler lined a single off Edmondson to begin the stanza, causing a pitching change. Porter took over on the hill for Edmondson (3.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R) and a sacrifice by senior Ty Taborelli put the runner in scoring position. Muruszak reached on an infield hit, as Butler remained on second, and Cleveland laced an 0-1 offering into right to give the Bulls a two-run lead. A fly-out to the warning track by Daniel left USF with runners on the corners and a wild pitch by Mullaney enabled Cleveland to take second. Soon after, the righty caught Angelberger looking to get out of the jam.


Hits were even in the game, as each squad totaled a dozen. Barnes had a career-high three hits and was 3-for-5, while den Dekker (2-for-2, three RBI), LaPorta (2-for-3) and Neer (2-for-3, three RBI) turned in multiple-hit efforts. Four Bulls chipped in with two hits each. The Gators resume action on Friday night when they host George Washington (0-6) in the opener of a three-game series at McKethan Stadium.  




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