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Friday April 20, 2007Kentucky Takes Opener Over Baseball

Gainesville, FL

Kentucky sophomore left-hander Chris Rusin (4-2) tossed his first career complete game and a six-run second-inning outburst powered the Wildcats (27-10-1/7-8-1 SEC) to a 9-2 victory over Florida (21-20/8-8 SEC) on Friday night at McKethan Stadium. Senior Sean Coughlin (2-for-3) belted a pair of solo home runs and freshman Keenan Wiley was 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI as UK ended a three-game road losing streak to the Gators. Rusin scattered nine hits, registered eight strikeouts and issued just one walk.  


Kentucky is an outstanding offensive club,” said head coach Pat McMahon. “Gary Henderson does a great job for (Kentucky’s) pitching staff, and you could see that with Chris (Rusin) only walking one batter. We need to work on pitching ahead of the count and working toward advantaged counts. This was a disappointing loss for us, but we defended well and that is something that is continuing to improve for us. It will be a big start for Bryan (Augenstein) tomorrow, and I am anxious to see how he handles that match-up.”


The Wildcats sent 12 batters to the plate and totaled six runs on five hits and four walks in the second stanza for a 6-0 lead. Coughlin led off with his team-leading eighth home run to straightaway center field off freshman Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) (2-2). After senior Matt McKinney doubled and junior Brian Spear drew a walk, sophomore Ryan Wilkes executed a sac bunt to move both runners into scoring position. A two-run double by Wiley boosted UK’s lead to 3-0 and ended the night for Davis (1.1 IP, 3 H, 4 R). Freshman Jason Kipnis greeted senior reliever Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.) with an RBI double to score Wiley and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Senior Mike Brown earned a free pass for runners on the corners and junior Antone DeJesus walked to fill the bases. Junior Sawyer Carroll delivered a two-run single for a 6-0 margin and took second on the relay throw to the plate. Coughlin drew UK’s fourth walk of the frame to fill the sacks and Porter retired the next two batters to strand the trio of runners.


Coughlin connected on his second homer of the game with two down in the fourth for a 7-0 count before freshman Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) put the Gators on the board to start the bottom of the frame. The rookie’s eighth homer of the season landed in the visitor’s bullpen in right center field.


“Chris (Rusin) pitched really well, and he kept everyone off-balance tonight,” Figueroa said. “You really have to give it to him for his performance. Everyone is looking to get SEC wins all the time, so it is definitely frustrating when we lose. We will just have to come out and battle the rest of the weekend, and we can’t give anything away.”


A two-out single in the fifth by junior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.) brought in freshman Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) with UF’s second run. Pigott had poked a base-hit up the middle and raced down to second on a wild pitch from Rusin.


Brown opened the sixth with a single off senior Kris Gawriluk (Deltona, Fla.) and DeJesus walked on four pitches before Carroll’s bunt gave the Wildcats a pair of runners in scoring position. An intentional walk to Coughlin loaded the bags and a fielder’s choice by McKinney scored Brown for an 8-2 UK advantage.  


Kentucky tacked on another run in the seventh to build a 9-2 cushion but left the bases loaded again. Wilkes drew a leadoff walk and was sacrificed over by Wiley. Kipnis roped an RBI single into the gap in left center to prompt a pitching change. Junior Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) replaced Gawriluk (2.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB) and Kipnis swiped his 11th stolen base to move into scoring position. After Brown was hit by a pitch, a single by DeJesus loaded the bases with one out. Edmondson induced an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play to prevent further damage.


Senior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a one-out single in the eighth and went to second on a hit by senior Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.). A fielder’s choice by senior Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) left runners on the corners before Rusin had sophomore Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.) tap a grounder to force Pride at second.


The Wildcats held a 13-9 edge in hits, as Kipnis and Wiley had three apiece. Junior righty Bryan Augenstein (Sebastian, Fla.) (3-4, 5.93) will try to even the series for Florida tomorrow at 4 p.m. against Kentucky junior southpaw Andrew Albers (5-1, 3.70).




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