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Tuesday February 22, 2005Baseball Overwhelms FAMU, 18-3

Gainesville, FL

After spotting Florida A&M two runs in the first inning, Florida erupted for 16 consecutive runs en route to a 18-3 victory on Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium. Sophomores Matt LaPorta and Adam Davis led the offensive charge for the Gators (6-2), as the classmates each finished one hit shy of the cycle.

LaPorta finished 4-for-5, including his fifth home run of the season, the first triple of his career, three RBI and three runs scored. Davis chipped in with a 3-for-5 performance, hitting his first home run of the campaign, to go along with three runs scored, two runs batted in and a double.

"Adam is such a pleasure to be around," said Florida head coach Pat McMahon. "He has such a great work ethic and is a relentless competitor. Matt continues to perform well for us not only at the plate but on defense as well. He gives the infielders throwing across the field greater confidence."

Senior reliever Mike Pete (1-0) tossed 3.2 innings of one-hit ball while striking out five to earn his first victory since May 2, 2004 against Auburn and extend Florida’s winning streak to three games. Senior A.J. Paterick (0-3) took the loss for the Rattlers, who remained winless in 14 games this season.

"Mike really did a good job tonight," noted McMahon. "He improved tonight, and that made our staff better."

FAMU plated two runs in the first to take an early advantage. Senior David Hampton coaxed a one out walk from freshman starter Tommy Wynn to start things off for the Rattlers. Sophomore Stanley Gnat was next up and the designated hitter reached on an infield hit, permitting Hampton to race to third. A ground out to second by senior Virgil Priestly pushed Hampton across the dish to bring up senior Dan Flaherty. The third baseman from Englewood, Fla., then blasted a double to centerfield to score Gnat for the second run of the inning. However, Wynn escaped further trouble by striking out sophomore Brian Baxton swinging to end the threat.

Florida answered in its first turn at bat to create a 4-2 bulge at the end of one inning. With one out and nobody on base, junior Stephen Barton fisted a single into shallow right and one out later advanced to third when LaPorta smoked a hot-shot to the shortstop and was safe at first. Sophomore Brian Leclerc worked a walk to load the sacks for junior Justin Tordi and the UF shortstop blooped a single into right, scoring Barton from third. The Gators tacked on two more runs on the play when Leclerc got caught in a pickle between second and third, but catcher Elvin Millan’s throw to second sailed into center field to allow LaPorta and Leclerc to cross the dish with a couple of unearned runs. Tordi advanced to third on the errant throw and scored on a wild pitch for the fourth run of the frame.

After being held in check in the second and third innings, the Orange and Blue padded their cushion in the fourth. With two outs and the bases empty, Davis crushed the first pitch he saw from Paterick deep over the bleachers in left for his first home run of the season. The homer was the first for the second baseman from Ft. Myers, Fla., since a solo shot on May 1, 2004, against Auburn.

Two more runs were tacked on in the home half of the fifth to bring UF’s advantage to 7-2. LaPorta led off with his first career triple to deep center field and scored when Leclerc ripped a single to right field for his sixth RBI in two games against FAMU this season. The right fielder from Clearwater, Fla., then stole second base for his first theft of the season and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Tordi. However, Tordi was safe at first when the ball popped out of the mitt of Priestly at first on the tag attempt to leave runners on the corners with no outs. Freshman designated hitter Jared Kubin followed with his first career RBI via a sacrifice fly to deep center field to plate Leclerc for the seventh run of the contest for Florida.

Florida busted the game wide open by sending 13 men to the plate and scoring nine runs to expand its lead to 16-2. LaPorta continued to swing a hot bat as the reigning SEC Player of the Week slugged a 2-1 pitch from FAMU reliever Jim Beauford out of "The Mac" to left for a three-run bomb. Five of the next six batters smacked hits as six additional base runners crossed home plate and every Gator starting position player scored a run by the end of seven frames.

After FAMU scored one run in the eighth on an RBI double down the left field line by Flaherty, the Gators countered with three runs in the bottom half to put the game further out of reach.

Wynn worked the first two frames for UF, allowing two runs on two hits, with two walks and two strikeouts. Pete was followed on the mound by junior Darren O’Day (0.1 IP), freshman Stephen Locke (1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 K), sophomore Steven Porter (0.1 IP, 2 H) and freshman Josh Edmondson (1.0 IP, 2 K). The Gators lashed a season-high 22 hits, as six different players contributed multiple hit outings. Florida will host Rhode Island (0-0) for three games this weekend at McKethan Stadium.

Game Notes:

*Matt LaPorta’s triple in the fifth inning was the first recorded by Florida this season.

*The nine-run, six-hit sixth inning marked season-highs for the Gators in runs and hits in one inning.

*Every Florida starter scored at least one run.

*Freshman Tommy Wynn made his first collegiate start.

*Twelve different Gators collected at least one hit.

*UF totaled seven extra-base hits - four doubles, two homers and a triple.

*The Gator pitchers combined for 10 strikeouts and issued three walks.

*Junior Andy Davis and freshman Jared Kubin notched their first RBI in the Orange and Blue.



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