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Friday March 23, 2007Baseball Works Extra To Defeat No. 21 Auburn, 8-7

Auburn, AL

Freshman Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) snapped a 7-7 tie with a two-out RBI single in the 10th to lift Florida (12-13/2-2 SEC) to an 8-7 victory over No. 21 Auburn (18-7/0-4 SEC) on Friday night in front of 3,187 fans at Plainsman Park. Sophomore Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) retired all six Tigers he faced, with a career-high four strikeouts, to improve to 2-1 in the Gators' first extra-inning affair of 2007. Senior Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) went 3-for-6 for his fifth-straight multiple-hit outing and is 15-for-23 (.652) in that stretch.

Senior Chris Dennis (1-2) started the 10th for the Tigers and issued back-to-back walks to freshman Matt den Dekker (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and junior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.). After Leclerc's fielder's choice forced Townsend at second and pushed den Dekker to third, senior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) went down looking on strikes. Figueroa stepped to the dish and ripped Dennis' next pitch through the right side of the infield to give the Gators an 8-7 edge.

The Tigers had totaled three runs on three hits in the first stanza against junior Bryan Augenstein (Sebastian, Fla.), highlighted by a two-run homer by freshman Dustin Spruill. Senior Bruce Edwards led off with an infield single and swiped his 12th stolen base to move into scoring position. Sophomore Luke Greinke followed with an RBI single up the middle to break the ice before Augenstein popped up Josh Donaldson and struck out sophomore Mike Bianucci. Spruill belted the next offering over the wall in right center for his first career home run and a 3-0 lead.

Florida countered with two runs in the third off sophomore Bryan Woodall to move to within 3-2. Den dekker opened with a hard single, Townsend drew a walk and Leclerc poked a base-hit to fill the sacks with none out. After LaPorta was hit by a pitch to collect his first RBI in nine games, Figueroa's fielder's choice scored Townsend. Woodall induced ground balls from senior Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) and sophomore Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) to work out of further problems.

Auburn answered with a run of its own in the bottom of the inning on a one-out double down the left-field line by Donaldson. Edwards started things off with a bunt just in front of the plate and later stole second base. Donaldson's 12th two-bagger put the Tigers ahead, 4-2.

The Gators came storming back with five runs on four hits and knocked out Woodall in the fourth to seize a 7-4 advantage. Senior Chris Petrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) walked to lead off and sophomore Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.) was hit by a pitch before den Dekker's grounder moved them both into scoring position. Townsend stroked a 2-0 offering up the middle to even the score and advanced to second when the pitcher was called for a balk. Leclerc cranked an RBI single to give UF a 5-4 lead and ended the night for Woodall (3.1 IP, 6 H, 6 R). LaPorta greeted senior Johnny Thompson with a blast off the Green Monster in left that was inches from leaving the ballyard and instead wound up a double driving in Leclerc. A grounder by Figueroa pushed LaPorta to third and Pride delivered an RBI single for a three-run cushion.

The hosts knotted the game at 7-7 in the sixth with three runs on three hits. Freshman Robert Brooks walked with one down and came across on senior Andy Bennett's double. Sophomore pinch hitter Ben Jones earned a free pass and freshman Eric Skinner and Edwards roped consecutive run-scoring singles to end the evening for Augenstein. Over 5.1 innings, the righty yielded eight hits and seven runs, with six strikeouts and matched a career high by permitting four walks. Junior Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) threw one pitch to Greinke and it was converted into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

Florida squandered a golden opportunity to take the lead in the seventh after putting its first two runners aboard. Barnes drew a leadoff walk from junior reliever Brett Butts and Petrie punched a single into center field. The righty had Neer pop up a sacrifice attempt and caused den Dekker to tap into a 6-4-3 double play.

In the bottom of the stanza, the Gators worked out of a difficult situation in which the Tigers had runners on the corners with one down. Bianucci walked, stole second and took third on a base-hit by Spruill. With runners on the corners, Edmondson (1.1 IP, 1 H) came through with a crucial strikeout of Brooks and was replaced by senior Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.), who fanned Bennett.

Skinner launched his first career triple into left center with one out in the eighth but was stranded when Porter struck out Edwards and had Greinke ground out to Townsend. Keating took over for Porter (1.1 IP, 1 H, 2 K) and set down AU in order to send the game into extra innings.

UF held an 11-10 advantage in hits, led by Leclerc's three hits and two apiece by LaPorta and Petrie. Edwards was 3-for-4 with three stolen bases and a couple of runs for the Tigers. Sophomore LHP Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.) (3-2, 6.18) will start tomorrow's second game at 3 p.m., live on Sun Sports, against sophomore RHP Paul Burnside (4-0, 3.82).


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