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Tuesday April 10, 2007UCF Knocks Off No. 17 Baseball, 6-2

Gainesville, FL

Sophomore right-hander Kyle Sweat tossed eight shutout innings as UCF (18-19) upended No. 17 Florida (20-16), 6-2, on Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium. Sweat (3-2) retired the final 10 Gators he faced and did not surrender a hit after the fourth inning in matching the longest outing of his career. His teammates backed him with a 14-hit offensive attack, led by junior Dwayne Bailey (3-for-4). UF plated two runs in the ninth and had the potential tying run at the plate to close the contest.

 

“We rallied tonight, and I am proud of the comeback effort in the bottom of the ninth to put the tying run at the plate but we ran out of outs,” said head coach Pat McMahon. “UCF defended the field very well and played a great baseball game. Jay Bergman is one of the outstanding coaches in the college game. We had opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of, and I need to do a better job of preparing our team, especially for SEC games like this weekend. Arkansas will be a fun challenge and a terrific environment to play in.”

 

The Golden Knights jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third on four hits against sophomore Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.) (3-3). Bailey poked a double into right center with one down and senior Matt Horwath followed with a walk. An infield hit by rookie Shane Brown loaded the bases and junior Tyson Auer roped a two-run single to open the scoring and extend his hitting streak to 12 games. Sophomore Kiko Vazquez sliced an RBI single through the left side to end the night for Locke, who allowed six hits and three runs over 2.1 innings in his first start since March 24 at Auburn. Freshman Kyle Mullaney (Jacksonville, Fla.) induced an inning-ending double play from sophomore Brandon Romans to prevent further damage.

 

UCF loaded the bases with two out in the fifth but could not add to its lead. Bailey led off with an infield single and moved to second on a throwing error by senior first baseman Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.). Following a groundout, Brown was hit by a pitch from Mullaney. A fielder’s choice by Auer forced Brown at second, and a stolen base gave the visitors two runners in scoring position. A walk to Vazquez filled the bags and freshman pinch hitter Chris Duffy flew out to center to strand the runners.

 

Florida had a prime opportunity to get on the scoreboard fall by the wayside in the home part of the fifth against Sweat. Senior Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) walked with one down and moved into scoring position with his team-leading sixth theft with two out. Freshman Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) earned a free pass and a passed ball pushed the runners to second and third. Sweat worked out of the jam with a strikeout of sophomore pinch hitter Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.).

 

The visitors expanded their lead to 5-0 with two runs on two hits in the sixth. Freshman Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.) replaced Mullaney (2.2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB) and yielded a leadoff single to junior Ryan Richardson. After Richardson stole second, sophomore Eric Kallstrom walked and sophomore Chadd Hartman laid down a bunt to push his teammates into scoring position. Bailey looped an RBI single into right field for a 4-0 margin, prompting another pitching change. Junior Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) came out of the bullpen and Bailey advanced with his 12th stolen base before Horwath’s RBI grounder put the Golden Knights up by five runs.

 

A throwing error with two down in the ninth allowed UCF to score its final run. Vazquez led off with a single through the left side and advanced on a bunt by sophomore Nick Choto. Following a groundout by Richardson that moved Vazquez to third, junior third baseman Jon Townsend (London, Ky.) threw away Kallstrom’s grounder to bring across the unearned run. 

 

After Townsend greeted freshman Austin Hudson with a leadoff double in the bottom of the frame, the Golden Knights turned to senior Brian Brooks. LaPorta (2-for-4, 12-game hitting streak) cranked a one-out RBI double, his ninth two-bagger, to narrow the gap to 6-1 and freshman Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) followed with a run-scoring single to reduce the deficit to four runs. Following a walk to senior Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.), sophomore Justin Weiss was summoned from the bullpen. The righty issued a free pass to junior Bryson Barber (Penascola, Fla.) to load the bases, rebounded to fan sophomore Jared Kubin (Oakton, Va.) and had den Dekker pop up to end the game. The save was the fifth of the campaign for Weiss.

 

The Gators return to SEC action on Friday night when they face No. 5 Arkansas (25-10) in the opener of a weekend series at 8:05 p.m. in Fayetteville. Each team has an 8-4 mark in league play, with Florida leading the East and the Hogs on top in West.    

 

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