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Friday March 30, 2007Baseball Takes Series Opener At Georgia, 7-5

Athens, GA

Senior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) bashed two more home runs as Florida (16-13/5-2 SEC) overcame a 4-1 deficit with a six-run sixth to capture its series opener over Georgia (10-15/3-4 SEC), 7-5, on Friday night in front of 2,929 fans at Foley Field. LaPorta (2-for-4, three RBI) registered his sixth career multi-homer outing to lift the Gators to their season-best fifth win in a row and the slugger now leads the SEC with 11 dingers. After surrendering three runs in the first, junior Bryan Augenstein (Sebastian, Fla.) (3-3) rebounded to work 7.1 innings for his first league win since May 12 of last season at Alabama. The victory marked the first time since 2002 that Florida had emerged victorious in game one of a series with the Bulldogs.

 

LaPorta provided the Gators with a quick lead in the first inning on his team-leading 10th homer. The shot to straightaway center field off sophomore Nathan Moreau (2-1) marked the sluggerís fourth-straight game with a round-tripper, matching the school record established by Jason Dill between April 3 and 8, 1998. The blast also enabled LaPorta to reach double-digit dingers for the fourth consecutive season.

 

The Bulldogs countered with a two-out rally in the bottom of the frame, highlighted by a pair of homers, to seize a 3-1 lead. Augenstein retired the first two hitters before sophomore Gordon Beckham tied the game with his seventh four-bagger to left field. Junior Matt Olson sliced a base-hit into left and rookie Rich Poythress put the hosts in front with his first career homer over the wall in center.

 

Georgia increased its advantage to 4-1 in the fifth on an RBI single by Olson. Beckham battled back from a two-strike count to earn a free pass then swiped second for his fourth stolen base of the year. Olson roped Augensteinís 1-2 offering up the middle to provide the Dawgs with a three-run cushion.

 

The Gators erupted for six runs on six hits in the sixth and used a pair of two-run shots by LaPorta and freshman Jake Hicks (Molino, Fla.) to build a 7-4 lead. Freshman Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.) led off with a single into center and was sacrificed to second by junior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.). Freshman Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) smacked an RBI single to right, advanced to second when the relay throw went to the plate and moved to third on a wild pitch. LaPorta evened the game at 4-4 by hammering Moreauís 1-2 pitch into the parking lot beyond the left-field fence for his second-straight two-homer outing in SEC action after going deep twice last Sunday at Auburn. With two down, sophomore Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.) doubled down the left-field line for the second time in the game and scored on a double by freshman Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) to give the visitors a one-run edge. On the next pitch, Hicks belted his first career home run to right field and collected his first two RBI.

 

Senior Adam McDaniel replaced Moreau (6.0 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 4 K) prior to the seventh and issued back-to-back walks to Pisani and Townsend before striking out Figueroa. Following a wild pitch that advanced both runners into scoring position, LaPorta was walked intentionally for the seventh time this year and Georgia made a pitching change. Freshman Ryan Woolley caught senior pinch hitter Chris Petrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) looking on strikes and had Neer pop up in foul territory to leave the sacks full.

 

In the eighth, Poythress and freshman Luke Stewart reached Augenstein for consecutive one-out singles and rookie Joey Lewis smoked an RBI single to pull UGA within 7-5. Senior David Hurst (Jacksonville, Fla.) came out of the bullpen and had senior pinch hitter Matt Robbins ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play on the first pitch.

 

Senior Jonathan Wyatt singled with one down in the ninth off Hurst, prompting UF to put in junior Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.). The right-hander had junior Ryan Peisel fly out before yielding a single to Beckham for a pair of UGA runners aboard. Senior Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.) nailed down his second save by having Olson fly out to Petrie in foul territory.

 

Georgia held a 12-8 advantage in hits, led by a 3-for-4, two-RBI performance by Poythress and two each by Beckham and Olson. LaPorta and Neer had two hits apiece for UF. Freshman southpaw Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) (1-0, 0.00) will make his collegiate starting debut for the Gators tomorrow at 1 p.m. against Bulldog sophomore right-hander Stephen Dodson (1-3, 1.75).

 

-UF-

 

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