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Sunday March 30, 2008LSU Salvages Finale Against No. 18 Baseball, 6-3

Gainesville, FL -

Junior designated hitter Matt Clark (2-for-4, three RBI) slugged a pair of home runs to help LSU (16-10/3-6 SEC) avoid being swept by No. 18 Florida (20-6/7-2 SEC) with a 6-3 victory on Sunday afternoon in front of 3,290 fans at McKethan Stadium. Senior right-hander Jared Bradford (5-3), who was the losing pitcher on Friday night, hurled a complete game for the Tigers by giving up nine hits and three runs. The squads combined for seven homers, as sophomore Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) (3-for-4) had a couple of solo shots for the Gators.


“I thought that you have to tip your cap to (Bradford) to come back after that tough outing on Friday,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “To throw a complete game --121 pitches --, he did a heck of a job against us and earned that one. LSU played a clean game today until the ninth inning and a couple of those runs late in the game hurt us. If it was 4-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth, it could have been a little more interesting. LSU did a great job, and we have to regroup and get ready for Tuesday night.”


“I would much rather get a win than hit any home runs,” Figueroa said. “That was a big game for us, like every SEC game is, and we just wanted to go out there and win.”


Florida had three hits in the first inning against Bradford but failed to score. Junior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) opened with an infield hit but was caught trying to steal second. Sophomore Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and Figueroa delivered consecutive singles before Bradford had freshman Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.   


LSU used back-to-back home runs in the second inning off freshman Tommy Toledo (Tampa, Fla.) (4-1) to take a 3-0 advantage. Sophomore Blake Dean led off by being hit by a pitch and Clark cranked his team-leading 12th round-tripper deep to right field. Freshman Leon Landry followed with his first career homer over the fence in right.


Figueroa narrowed the gap to 3-1 by starting the home part of the fourth with a solo blast that cleared the right-field wall. However, sophomore Ryan Schimpf answered for the Tigers with his fourth homer with one down in the fifth to regain his club’s three-run lead.  


Toledo departed after 5.1 innings in which he allowed five hits and four runs, with two strikeouts and a walk. He has now worked at least five innings in all six of his collegiate starts. Sophomore Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) took over and fanned Clark before plunking Landry. Soon after, the lefty picked off the runner to end the stanza.


Figueroa belted his second homer of the day with a towering shot over the scoreboard to pull the Gators within 4-2 in the sixth. It was the second multi-HR game of his career, as he accomplished the feat in May 17, 2007 in a 20-2 win over Tennessee. Senior Dustin Bamberg (Winter Haven, Fla.) connected on his third homer later in the frame for a one-run deficit for the hosts.


Davis retired the first two LSU hitters of the seventh but a throwing error by sophomore catcher Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.) allowed junior Buzzy Haydel to reach base despite striking out. Freshman DJ LeMahieu singled through the right side to advance his teammate and Davis was charged with a balk for two runners in scoring position. The southpaw rebounded with a strikeout of Schimpf to match his career best of three Ks and was replaced by sophomore Kyle Mullaney (Jacksonville, Fla.). Thanks to a sterling defensive play by Figueroa, the right-hander kept the Tigers at bay by having junior Nicholas Pontiff ground out.  


In the home part of the inning, sophomore Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) drew a leadoff walk but was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice by senior pinch hitter Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla.). Bradford then had Barnes hit into 3-6-3 double play to preserve the 4-3 LSU advantage. Clark provided the Tigers with some breathing room with his third homer of the series and 13th of the campaign with two down in the eighth for a 5-3 lead.


Helped by Mullaney’s throwing error, the visitors added an insurance run in the ninth. LeMahieu sliced a one-out single through the right side and later wound up on third on an errant pickoff throw. Schimpf roped an RBI double down the right-field line to plate his teammate with the final run. LSU out-hit the Gators, 10-9, as Landry was a perfect 3-for-3 and three other players had two hits. Bamberg and Barnes were 2-for-4 for the Orange and Blue.       


The Gators will face No. 2 Florida State (23-3/11-1 ACC) for the second time this season on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. The squads drew 12,280 fans, a record for a college baseball game in the state of Florida, when they met on April 1 last season at the facility. UF defeated the Seminoles, 6-1, on March 18 at McKethan Stadium. 


Game Notes

  • A Florida opponent had not hit back-to-back home runs since Ole Miss’ Stephen Head and Brian Pettway in 2005. 
  • In SEC play, Florida has thrown out three base-runners in five stolen base attempts.
  • Cole Figueroa joins Josh Adams as the only Gators this season with home runs in consecutive at bats.
  • With two RBI this afternoon, Figueroa seized the team lead in RBI (32).
  • The four home runs allowed are the most given up in a game this season.
  • Tommy Toledo has gone at least five innings in all six of his starts this season (5.1 today). 
  • The last UF starter to drop a decision was Billy Bullock versus Brown on March 8.
  • LSU’s Jared Bradford threw a complete game, the first against the Gators since Kentucky’s Chris Rusin on April 20, 2007.
  • Florida dropped to 3-3 when its opponent scores first.
  • LSU leads the all-time series, 48-31-1, while Florida holds a 17-15 advantage in Gainesville.




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