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Sunday March 4, 2007Baseball Sweeps Away George Washington, 20-3

Gainesville, FL

Florida (9-6) finished off a dominating weekend sweep of George Washington (1-9) on Sunday afternoon with a 20-3 triumph at McKethan Stadium to extend its winning streak to four games. The Gators scored in all eight trips to the plate and took full advantage of nine walks and being hit a season-high seven times.


Senior Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) went 3-for-4, notched four RBI for the second-straight contest and scored three runs, sophomore Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) was 3-for-5 with three runs and freshman Billy Bullock (Valrico, Fla.) threw five scoreless innings to even his season ledger at 2-2. Over the three contests, UF out-scored the Colonials, 51-8, batted .407 (48-for-118), drew 22 walks, roped 13 doubles and had 11 HBP.  


“I am really pleased with our performance this weekend,” said head coach Pat McMahon. “I just can’t say enough about Austin (Pride). He has worked so hard from an offensive perspective. He is versatile player who does well at multiple positions, and he is unselfish in how he does that for us. Avery (Barnes) is also figuring out a lot of things about what it takes to be successful. Sweeps at the collegiate level are difficult to do, so that was a great accomplishment for the team. We are learning to do the little things well, and that is a positive sign but we still have areas to improve on from here.”


The Gators struck quickly with three runs on two hits in the first inning against GW rookie Bobby Lucas (0-1). Junior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.) led off with a base-hit into right field and moved into scoring position on a passed ball. Freshman Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) drew a walk and senior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) was hit by a pitch for the third time in the past two games to fill the sacks. Pride ripped a single off Lucas’ leg to drive in the first run and junior Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla.) earned a free pass for a 2-0 lead. Although sophomore Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.) grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, LaPorta came across to put UF up by three runs.


Florida added two more scores in the second on an RBI grounder by Figueroa and a bases-loaded HBP by Barber. Freshman Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) drew a leadoff walk and stole second base. After Pigott moved over on a grounder by Barnes, Townsend walked for runners on the corners. Figueroa’s ground ball to second scored Pigott and an intentional walk to LaPorta ended the day for Lucas (1.2 IP, 2 H, 5 R, 5 BB). Freshman Ryan LaPointe plunked Pride to load the bases and hit Barber for a 5-0 cushion before freshman Hampton Tignor (Sarasota, Fla.) flew out to right.    


UF plated four runs on three hits and an error in the third to build a 9-0 lead. Senior Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) lofted a fly ball to deep center field that was dropped, leaving him on third. Pigott and Barnes delivered consecutive run-scoring singles for a 7-0 margin and Townsend’s RBI double chased LaPointe (0.1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 2 WP). A groundout by LaPorta off sophomore Pat Lehman later scored his teammate with the ninth run.   


“It was a fun weekend for our ballclub as a whole,” Barnes said. “It was our first sweep of the year, and that is always big. We came out and tried to be aggressive, and our approach to swing at good pitches was better. Our pitchers did a great job of keeping runners off base, too. Now, we have to use this to move forward to our next game on Tuesday.”


A Colonial fielding error in the fourth resulted in a 10-0 score. Barber walked to start the frame, Tignor smacked a single and Pigott’s one-out grounder was booted to enable Barber to come in. The next inning, Barber’s two-out RBI single brought across Pride (double) to increase UF’s edge to 11-0.


Junior Charlie Kruer put GW on the board with a homer to left off senior David Hurst (Jacksonville, Fla.) to begin the sixth. However, the Gators answered with five runs in the home part of the stanza to take a 16-1 lead. Freshman Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) started things off with his third dinger, second in as many days. After Barnes’ first career triple, Townsend collected his second RBI of the game with a grounder. Figueroa and LaPorta were hit consecutively with two down and Pride bashed a three-run jack into the left-field bleachers for the 15-run cushion. The four-bagger was his third of the campaign and gave him eight RBI in the past two games.


“We are learning to be more patient at the plate,” Pride said. “Our guys were waiting on pitches and made hits out of it. I have been working hard on getting ready for my pitch up there. We also had a lot of hit-by-pitches today, and we were able to put guys on base and score every inning with those. I think we let the game against USF be a springboard for us into this weekend, so I hope we can keep this going.”


After GW scored once in the top of the seventh, the Gators responded with two more runs for an 18-2 lead. After junior Dustin Bamberg (Winter Haven, Fla.) was hit by a pitch to begin the inning and Pigott was plunked with one down, a throwing error on Barnes’ fielder’s choice allowed Bamberg to score. Senior Chris Petrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) then punched an RBI single to right to keep the scoreboard operator busy. 


Pride earned a one-out walk from freshman Arllen Cruz in the eighth and moved to third on a pinch-hit double by sophomore Brett Smith (Longwood, Fla.). Bamberg collected two RBI with a double down the left-field line to finalize the 20-3 margin.


The Orange and Blue totaled 15 hits, its fourth-straight outing reaching double-digits. Townsend went 2-for-4 with three runs and two RBI. Four other pitchers threw one inning apiece on the hill for UF after Bullock, Hurst (1 H, 1 R), sophomore Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) (1 H, 1 R), senior Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.) (2 H, 1 R) and senior Kris Gawriluk (Deltona, Fla.) (0 H, 1 K). Florida will resume action on Tuesday night when it hosts Jacksonville at 6:30 p.m. The squads have not met since the 2002 campaign.


Game Notes

  • Matt LaPorta has now been hit 41 times in his career, tying David Eckstein for second place on the school’s all-time list. Brian Rose holds the team record with 48 HBP.
  • Cole Figueroa’s nine-game hitting streak came to an end with an 0-for-3 performance, although he drew a pair of walks and scored twice.
  • The three-game sweep was the Gators’ first since defeating Harvard (12-6, 10-2, 17-6) from March 10-12, 2006.
  • The last time Florida plated 20 or more runs in consecutive games was on March 13 & 15, 2002 during wins over the College of Charleston (23-8) and Ole Miss (24-5).







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