Sunday April 10, 2005Gators Take Series at Georgia With 10-1 Victory
Freshman Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.) hurled 5.2 scoreless innings in his SEC starting debut as No. 5 Florida claimed the deciding third game of its weekend series with Georgia, 10-1, before a crowd of 3,021 at Foley Field on Sunday afternoon. The Gators (25-8/8-4 SEC) broke open a 1-0 game with a six-run sixth inning to defeat the Bulldogs (18-14/3-8 SEC) for the second-straight day. Locke (5-0) established a career high with seven strikeouts and limited UGA to five singles before giving way to the duo of senior Connor Falkenbach (Parkland, Fla.) (2.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R) and freshman Tommy Wynn (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) (1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R).
Led by three-hit performances from sophomore Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.), sophomore Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) and freshman Brandon McArthur (Seffner. Fla.), the Gators banged out 17 hits en route to their eighth victory in the last nine outings. McArthur (3-for-5) now boasts an 11-game hitting streak, matching senior Jeff Corsaletti (Port Charlotte, Fla.) for the longest skein by a Florida player this season.
LaPorta put the Gators on the board with a leadoff home run in the second off junior Will Startup (3-2). The round-tripper was the 12th of the season for the slugger and his sixth in league action, bringing his RBI total to a team-best 41. Jeroloman tagged a double down the right-field line and junior Justin Tordi (Orlando, Fla.) followed with a two-out walk before Startup struck out freshman Jared Kubin (Oakton, Va.).
Corsaletti opened the third with a single into left and was sacrificed to second on a bunt by sophomore Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee, Fla.). On the next pitch, Startup triggered an inning-ending double play by snagging sophomore Adam Davis’ (Fort Myers, Fla.) liner and then catching Corsaletti too far from second base.
The Bulldogs put their first two runners aboard in the home half of the third but came away empty-handed against Locke. Freshman Joshua Field walked and junior Kyle Keen singled into left field before the southpaw fanned senior Josh Smith, induced a foul pop-up to Jeroloman by junior Bobby Felmy and forced Fields at third on a fielder’s choice by sophomore Joey Side.
Senior Derek Smith singled over Tordi’s head to begin UGA’s fifth and a grounder by Fields moved him into scoring position. Locke answered with consecutive strikeouts of Keen and Josh Smith to preserve his club’s tenuous one-run advantage.
Florida erupted for six runs on five hits to build a 7-0 lead in the sixth. A base-hit by Davis opening the frame prompted a pitching change for the Dawgs, as junior Rip Warren took over for Startup (5.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K). The reliever’s initial pitch was wild, allowing Davis to occupy second base, and LaPorta finished the at bat with an infield hit to give the Gators runners on the corners. Another wild pitch brought Davis across and enabled LaPorta to advance before sophomore Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) battled back from an 0-2 count to earn a walk. McArthur filled the bases with none out by punching a single into left field.
With Jeroloman at the dish holding a 2-0 count, Warren was pulled for junior Mitchell Boggs. Two pitches later, Jeroloman was aboard courtesy of a walk and UF tacked its third run on the board. Following a strikeout of Tordi, junior Stephen Barton (Miami, Fla.) delivered a pinch-hit, two-run double just inside of the right-field line for a five-run Gator lead. Boggs struck out Corsaletti for the second out but Dickey plated two more runs with a single into center field to put the Orange and Blue up by a 7-0 count.
Felmy and Side had back-to-back singles in the bottom of the sixth and Locke set down Morris (strikeout) and Jacobs (fly out). The southpaw issued a walk to sophomore Brandon Lowe to load the bases and end his afternoon on the hill. Falkenbach caught Derek Smith looking on a 3-2 pitch to strand the trio of Bulldogs.
Georgia narrowed the deficit to 7-1 in the seventh and was poised to add more until UF turned a double play with the bases loaded to escape the jam. Senior Justin Niefer led off the seventh for the home team with a pinch-hit single but was erased on a fielder’s choice by Keen. Josh Smith and Felmy poked consecutive singles to load the bases and Falkenbach walked Side on four pitches to bring across Keen with the Dawg’s first run since the first inning on Saturday night. The righty rebounded by having Morris tap into a 4-6-3 double play to end the stanza.
Florida added three more runs in the ninth on Leclerc’s second homer of the series, a three-run jack off sophomore reliever Brooks Brown. Dickey had led off with a single but was forced at second on a grounder by Davis before LaPorta singled to left center to chase Boggs. Leclerc cranked Brown’s initial offering out of the yard for his seventh dinger of the season.
The Gators return to action on Friday night with the start of a pivotal series at McKethan Stadium against No. 22 Alabama. The Crimson Tide (23-10/7-4 SEC) entered the deciding third game of its series at Ole Miss leading the Western Division by a half-game over the trio of Auburn, Arkansas and Ole Miss and was tied for the top spot in the conference.