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Saturday March 31, 2007Baseball Captures Sixth Straight, 9-1 Over Georgia

Athens, GA

Senior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) (3-for-4, three RBI) continued his offensive tear with two more homers as Florida (17-13/6-2 SEC) clinched its weekend series with a 9-1 triumph over Georgia (10-16/3-5 SEC) before a crowd of 2,959 spectators on Saturday afternoon at Foley Field. Now with 13 dingers, the slugger is hitting .433, has belted a homer in a school-record five straight games and produced three consecutive two-HR efforts in SEC play. LaPorta’s 67 career homers tie him for third on the SEC’s all-time list with Mississippi State standout Rafael Palmeiro (1983-85).

 

Making his collegiate starting debut, freshman Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) limited the Bulldogs to one run over 5.1 innings to raise his mark to 2-0. Senior David Hurst (Jacksonville, Fla.) hurled 3.2 scoreless frames to register his third save. Freshman RHP Billy Bullock (Valrico, Fla.) (2-3, 5.23) will start tomorrow’s finale at 2 p.m. on Cox Sports against freshman LHP Justin Earls (2-1, 2.88). UF is seeking its first sweep in Athens since 1993. 

 

A two-out throwing error by sophomore pitcher Stephen Dodson (1-4) triggered a four-run outburst by the Gators in the third. The right-hander retired the first two batters before allowing back-to-back singles to freshman Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and junior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.). Dodson then threw away a grounder by sophomore Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.), allowing both runners to score and Barnes to occupy third. LaPorta provided the visitors with a 4-0 lead with his 12th home run and third of the series.

 

Rookie Joey Lewis put the Bulldogs on the board with a solo shot off Davis with one down in the fifth. His second homer of the campaign slammed off the scoreboard overlooking right field and made the count 4-1. It was the first run allowed by Davis in 9.1 innings this year.

 

LaPorta got the run back with a leadoff homer to start the sixth and a one-out single by senior Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) ended the afternoon for Dodson (5.1 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 2 ER). Pride moved into scoring position with his team-leading fourth stolen base and advanced to third on a groundout by senior Chris Petrie (Jacksonville, Fla.). A wild pitch by rookie Alex McRee allowed Pride to come across with UF’s sixth run.

 

Freshman Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) expanded the Gators’ lead to 8-1 with a bases-loaded, two-run single in the seventh. Freshman Hampton Tignor (Sarasota, Fla.) drew a leadoff walk but was erased on den Dekker’s sacrifice attempt. After a walk to Townsend, McRee uncorked a wild pitch to leave runners on second and third. The decision to walk LaPorta intentionally backfired when Figueroa roped a 1-1 offering into left to create a seven-run bulge. Sophomore reliever Iain Sebastian replaced McKee (1.1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 3 BB) and prevented further trouble by fanning Pride.

 

Den Dekker’s sacrifice fly in the eighth finalized the 9-1 margin. His second sac fly of ’07 plated Petrie, who had started the stanza with a base-hit. Florida out-hit its hosts, 10-6, led by LaPorta and Tignor (2-for-3). Sophomore Gordon Beckham and senior Matt Robbins contributed two hits apiece for the Bulldogs.

 

-UF-

 

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