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Sunday April 15, 2007No. 5 Arkansas Rallies Past Baseball, 10-7

Fayetteville, AR

Fifth-ranked Arkansas (29-10/11-4 SEC) finished its first-ever home series sweep of No. 17 Florida (20-19/8-7 SEC) on Sunday afternoon with a 10-7 victory in front of 8,326 fans at Baum Stadium. Trailing 7-6 in the eighth, the Hogs used a bases-clearing double by sophomore Logan Forsythe (4-for-5, six RBI) and a sacrifice fly by junior Jeff Nutt to secure the triumph. After senior Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) had snapped a 6-6 tie with his seventh home run in the top of the frame, the Hogs countered with four runs on two hits and an error to remain atop the SEC standings.

 

In the decisive stanza, freshman Tim Smalling walked on four pitches against senior reliever Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.). A throwing error by sophomore catcher Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.) on senior Jake Dugger’s sacrifice attempt pushed senior pinch runner Stephen Robison to third and allowed Dugger to occupy second. Junior Sean Jones was walked intentionally to load the bases before junior Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) was called in from the bullpen. Forsythe cranked a double to straightaway center field to score three runs and went to third on a passed ball. Nutt delivered a sac fly to left field to finalize the four-run margin. Junior Travis Hill (2-1) threw 1.2 scoreless innings and totaled three K to collect the win, while Porter slipped to 0-3 with the defeat.

 

Florida threatened in its first at bat against junior starter Jess Todd but could not break the ice. Freshman Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) drew a one-out walk and senior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a sharp single. The slugger has reached base in 36 of the 37 games he has played this season. A fielder’s choice by senior Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) forced LaPorta at second but left the Gators with runners on the corners and two down. Todd answered with a strikeout of Neer.

 

In the bottom of the frame, the Hogs loaded the bases with one down and failed to score. Junior Sean Jones was hit by a pitch from junior Bryan Augenstein (Sebastian, Fla.) and moved to third on a one-out base-hit to right field by Forsythe. Nutt walked on four pitches and junior Casey Coon grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to keep the game scoreless.

 

Arkansas plated three runs on three two-out hits in the second stanza to seize the advantage. Junior Brian Walker sent his fifth round-tripper of the season over the wall in right center to open the scoring. Soon after, Smalling was hit by a pitch and took third on Dugger’s single into left center. A free pass to Jones filled the sacks and Forsythe roped a two-run single up the middle for a 3-0 lead.

 

Forsythe came through with another two-out hit in the fourth to provide the hosts with a four-run margin. Augenstein retired the first two hitters before Jones sliced a single through the right side and Forsythe bashed a double to straightaway center field for his third RBI of the afternoon.

 

The Gators erupted for six runs on five hits and two UA errors in the sixth to grab a 6-4 lead. LaPorta opened with a single to left and Leclerc followed with a base-hit to end Todd’s tenure on the mound. Over a career-high five innings, the right-hander set a personal best with 10 strikeouts. He gave up four hits, issued four walks and was charged with two runs. Freshman Dallas Keuchel walked Neer to load the bags and freshman Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) reached on catcher’s interference to bring across LaPorta. Pride smacked a hit directly off Keuchel to score Leclerc and prompt another pitching change. After senior Chris Rhoads struck out sophomore pinch hitter Jared Kubin (Oakton, Va.), freshman Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.) and junior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.) had back-to-back RBI singles to even the game at 4-4. Figueroa’s RBI fielder’s choice brought in Pride and a fielding error on the relay by Rhoads enabled Pisani to increase the Gators’ lead to 6-4.

 

Arkansas knotted the game at 6-6 on a two-out homer in the seventh by Hamblin. Coon drew a two-out walk and Hamblin belted his team-leading 11th round-tripper to left center to ignite the Baum Stadium crowd. A single through the left side by sophomore Matt Willard ended Augenstein’s afternoon after the right-hander allowed nine hits and six runs, with four K and four walks.

 

Pride opened the eighth with his seventh homer to help the Gators re-claim the lead. Pisani was hit by a pitch with one down and advanced to second on a balk by Rhoads. Townsend’s grounder was thrown away, giving Florida runners on the corners and Hill was summoned from the bullpen. Figueroa lofted a fly ball into left field that Coon snared and fired to the plate to nail Pisani for the inning-ending double play.  

 

Arkansas held an 11-8 edge in hits, powered by Forsythe’s career-high four knocks. LaPorta, Pisani and Pride had two apiece for the visitors. The Gators will next face No. 1 Florida State (35-4/13-2 ACC) in the rubber match of their season series on Wednesday night in Tallahassee at 6 p.m. The Seminoles claimed a 14-6 win in Gainesville on Feb. 20 before Florida answered with a 16-7 triumph in Jacksonville on April 3.    

 

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