Sunday March 13, 2005Baseball Completes Sweep of Michigan State, 10-0
Freshman Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.) hurled six scoreless innings to capture his third-straight start as No. 6 Florida completed a three-game sweep of Michigan State with a 10-0 shutout on Sunday afternoon before 1,493 fans at McKethan Stadium. A trio of Gator relievers, freshman Bryan Augenstein, (Sebastian, Fla.), freshman Michael Branham (Tampa, Fla.) and junior Darren O’Day (Jacksonville, Fla.), combined to hold the Spartans (5-6) hitless for three frames en route to UF’s second shutout of the season. The Gators (15-4) cranked three home runs today and wound up out-scoring MSU, 40-3, on their way to a .365 (38-for-104) batting average during the series.
"We continue to work hard to get better every day," said Pat McMahon. "Stephen (Locke) pitched with outstanding mound presence and I thought that our guys made some great adjustments. A team is successful when they battle counts and force the defense to work and on-base percentage is an important statistic. Several players throughout our lineup not enjoyed great weekends and I was pleased that our club played hard three days in a row. I really appreciate all of our tremendous fans for coming out to the ballpark to watch us."
Sophomore Adam Tripp doubled down the right field line against Locke to begin the game and a grounder by classmate Troy Krider moved his teammate to third. The southpaw then fanned senior Erik Morris and had sophomore Ryan Basham pop up to junior third baseman Daniel Brooks (Tampa, Fla.).
The Gators loaded the bases with none out in the first against Spartan junior Chris Malec but managed to push just one run across. Junior Stephen Barton (Miami, Fla.) reached on a leadoff error and was aboard at second before sophomore Adam Davis (Fort Myers, Fla.) singled to short for runners on the corners. A walk to sophomore Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) plugged the bases and Malec notched consecutive strikeouts of sophomore Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) and freshman Jared Kubin (Oakton, Va.). Junior Justin Tordi (Orlando, Fla.) drew a walk to bring across Barton with an unearned run for a 1-0 lead and sophomore Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) grounded out to strand three runners.
Sophomore Sean Walker opened the second with a base-hit into left field and freshman Tony Clausen executed a hit and run by lacing a single into left, only to have Walker thrown out rounding second on a relay from Barton to Davis. Locke responded by whiffing freshman Ryan Sontag and Jeroloman gunned down Clausen trying to swipe second base.
Highlighted by back-to-back two-out home runs by Brooks and sophomore Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee, Fla.), UF extended its lead to 6-0 in the third. Malec issued walks to LaPorta and Leclerc to open the frame and Kubin delivered an RBI single into left to give the hosts a 2-0 advantage. A sacrifice bunt by Tordi advanced his teammates into scoring position and Jeroloman lofted a sacrifice fly to center field to put his squad ahead by three runs and position Kubin on third. Brooks stepped to the plate and cranked a 3-2 offering over the left field wall for his first round-tripper as a Gator and Dickey belted Malec’s 1-0 pitch into the left field bleachers for his initial four-bagger of the campaign. UF had also socked consecutive home runs in Friday night’s opener during the fifth inning, courtesy of Jeroloman and Kubin. Malec (2.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 3 K) was lifted in favor of freshman Mark Sorensen, who gave up a slow roller to Barton that rested on the foul line near third base. However, Barton was thrown out attempting to take second, ending a stretch of 10 straight thefts this year.
Michigan State threatened in the fifth, as sophomore E.J. Daws and freshman Steve Gerstenberger notched two-out singles and advanced to second and third on a wild pitch by Locke. The rookie fooled Tripp on a 1-2 pitch for his 5th K to escape the jam. Tordi jacked his first HR of 2005 with a solo shot in the bottom of the inning off Sorensen to left field to give the Orange and Blue a 7-0 margin. Brooks reached on a Spartan error to prolong his team’s at bat and Dickey rifled a double down the right field line and was racing around the bases for a triple but his teammate was erased at the plate on a 9-6-5-2 relay.
Freshman Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla.) earned a walk from junior Chris Toepper to start the Gator seventh and took second on a passed ball. A fly out by Tordi moved Barber to third and Jeroloman had an RBI grounder to increase UF’s lead to 8-0. LaPorta later bashed a run-scoring double with two down in the eighth to put the home team up by nine runs and Leclerc cranked a two-bagger to the wall in right for his team-leading 22nd RBI to finish the onslaught.
For Florida, Dickey was 3-for-4 and Davis (2-for-5) and LaPorta (2-for-3, two runs) turned in multiple-hit outings. Locke (3-0) scattered six hits over six innings and lowered his earned run average to 1.31. Tripp was 2-for-4 to pace the Spartans, with Malec dropping to 1-1 with the setback. The Gators will host Army on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. The Gators will host Army on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. before opening Southeastern Conference play next weekend at No. 16 Ole Miss.