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Sunday April 8, 200711th-Inning Homer Carries No. 4 USC Over Baseball, 8-6

Gainesville, FL

Junior Trent Kline snapped a 6-6 tie with a two-run homer in the 11th as No. 4 South Carolina (26-7/7-5 SEC) claimed the rubber match of its weekend series at No. 22 Florida (20-15/8-4 SEC), 8-6, on Easter Sunday at McKethan Stadium. Junior Travis Jones (4-for-5, five RBI) tied the game with a three-run blast in the ninth and had a run-scoring single in the 10th for the Gamecocks. He was 10-for-12 (.833) with 11 RBI over the three games, including a pair of homers this afternoon, and socked five four-baggers versus the Gators. 

 

In the 11th, junior Harley Lail drew a leadoff walk from senior Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.) (0-2) and was sacrificed into scoring position on a bunt by sophomore James Darnell. Kline then cranked an 0-2 pitch into the left-field bleachers for his fifth home run to provide the winning margin. Senior Jeff Jeffords (3-0) threw a career-high 6.2 innings of relief to secure the victory. The right-hander faced 26 batters, allowed three hits and an unearned run. 

 

After surrendering Jones’ home run with one down in the ninth and the Gators up 5-2, junior Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) retired the Gamecocks’ first two batters in the 10th. Sophomore Andrew Crisp legged out an infield hit to short and senior Cheyne Hurst was hit by a pitch to bring up Jones. The junior looped an RBI single into shallow left field to score Crisp from second to give the visitors a 6-5 lead.

 

A throwing error with two down in the bottom of the stanza by third baseman Darnell enabled the Gators to tie the game. Junior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.) poked a one-out single off Jeffords and senior Matt LaPorta’s (Port Charlotte, Fla.) potential game-ending grounder was thrown away, allowing Townsend to score from first base with the tying run and LaPorta to occupy third. After a walk to freshman Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) and a stolen base, senior Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) walked to load the sacks. Jeffords rebounded to have sophomore Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.) fly out to right to bring UF’s number of runners stranded to 15.

 

Darnell put the Gamecocks on the board in the first with a solo shot off freshman Billy Bullock (Valrico, Fla.). His ninth round-tripper of the year came with one down and landed just beyond the left-field fence.

 

Florida grabbed a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the frame on a two-out RBI single by Leclerc. Townsend led off with a double to left center but was picked off second base. Sophomore Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) punched a base-hit into right and LaPorta drew a walk from freshman Blake Cooper. The right-hander uncorked a wild pitch to move both runners into scoring position. A groundout by Figueroa brought across Barnes and Leclerc’s base-knock into shallow right scored LaPorta.    

 

The Gators loaded the bases with two down in the third but could not push anything across. LaPorta raised his hitting streak to 11 games with a single to start the inning and Figueroa earned a free pass. Although Leclerc smoked a ball just beyond the reach of sophomore shortstop Reese Havens, the infielder alertly picked up the ball and threw LaPorta out at third. Neer flew out to center, advancing Figueroa, and Leclerc raced down to second when a pickoff attempt went down to third. Junior Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla.) walked to load the bases and Cooper worked out of the jam by having senior Chris Petrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) ground out to second.    

 

Figueroa greeted sophomore reliever Alex Farotto with a two-out double in the fourth to give Florida a 3-1 lead. Freshman Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) drew a leadoff walk and stole second with one down for his second theft of the afternoon. den Dekker moved to third on Barnes’ roller to first and LaPorta was given a free pass intentionally for the 12th time this year. Farotto replaced Cooper (3.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 6 BB) and Figueroa roped a 3-2 pitch into left center for his fifth two-bagger.

 

Jones belted his seventh homer of the year with one down in the fifth to pull Carolina within 3-2 and end the day for Bullock. Over 4.1 innings, the righty yielded six hits and two runs with one strikeout.

 

Without the benefit of a hit, the Gators built a three-run lead with two runs in the home part of the inning. Senior Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) drew a pinch-hit walk with one out, moved into scoring position with his fifth stolen base and went to third when the relay throw landed in center field. A walk to Petrie gave the Gators runners on the corners and den Dekker’s fielder’s choice plated Pride and left UF with two men aboard as Petrie eluded the tag by Jones running to second. A free pass to Townsend loaded the bases and Barnes’ base on balls resulted in a 5-2 score and a pitching change. Jeffords took over for Farotto (0.2 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 4 BB) and had LaPorta ground into an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play.

 

Jones later tied the game in the ninth with a three-run homer off Edmondson. Junior Phil Disher opened with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Crisp. A pinch-hit single by freshman Kyle Enders left USC with runners on the corners and prompted a pitching change. Edmondson came in for Hurst (4.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 4 K) and Jones launched a 2-2 pitch over the wall in center to knot the game at five runs apiece. Edmondson had Havens ground out before permitting back-to-back singles by Lail and Darnell. The righty had Kline fly out to strand the runners.      

 

South Carolina held an 18-10 advantage in hits, as the top six hitters in the lineup had two apiece and Jones matched his career best of four hits. Barnes and Townsend were each 2-for-5 for Florida, which left 16 runners on base. The Gators return to action on Tuesday night when they host UCF at 6:30 p.m. UF handled the Golden Knights, 10-3, in Orlando last March.

 

-UF-

 

 

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