Friday April 22, 2005Baseball Takes Opener at No. 23 Auburn, 4-2
Fifth-ranked Florida used back-to-back home runs in the sixth inning by sophomores Adam Davis (Fort Myers, Fla.) and Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) to defeat No. 23 Auburn, 4-2, on Friday night at Plainsman Park. Senior Tommy Boss (Dunnellon, Fla.) worked a season-high seven innings, scattering six hits and two runs, to improve to 5-2 for the SEC-leading Gators (28-10/11-5 SEC). Junior Darren O’Day (Jacksonville, Fla.) threw two scoreless innings and matched a season-high with five strikeouts to collect his fifth save. Senior Arnold Hughey (3-4) pitched 7.1 frames but took the loss for Auburn (25-15/8-8 SEC).
LaPorta gave the Gators a quick 2-0 lead in the first when he launched a two-out, two-run homer over the Green Monster in left field. The dinger was the 14th of the season for the slugger, who has belted a homer in five of Florida’s six conference series. Senior Jeff Corsaletti (Port Charlotte, Fla.) had opened the game with a single to left field off Hughey and moved to second on a grounder by sophomore Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee, Fla.). Following a strikeout of Davis, LaPorta jumped on a 1-0 pitch to equal his season high for homers.
In the bottom of the fourth, junior Jeff Boutwell reached on an infield hit for the Tigers with one down. However, Boss answered with a strikeout of freshman Russell Dixon and sophomore Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) gunned down Boutwell trying to steal second for the inning-ending double play.
Jeroloman led off the fifth with a double down the right-field line and moved over to second on a wild pitch. Hughey answered with strikeouts of junior Justin Tordi (Orlando, Fla.) and freshman Jared Kubin (Oakton, Va.) before having Corsaletti ground out.
Auburn tied the game in the fifth with two runs on three hits off Boss. Freshman Josh Donaldson reached on a infield hit to third, junior Adam Stacey was hit by a pitch and sophomore Bruce Edwards dragged a bunt up the third-base line to load the bases. Junior Tyler Johnstone grounded into a double play to bring across Donaldson with the first run and junior Clete Thomas smacked an RBI double off the wall in left field to knot the contest at 2-2.
Florida used consecutive home runs in the sixth to seize a 4-2 lead. Davis connected on a 1-1 pitch from Hughey for his sixth round-tripper of the season over the 385-mark in left center to move the Gators back in front. LaPorta stepped to the plate and jacked the left-hander’s next pitch deep to center for his second blast of the night for the two-run cushion.
Boss walked Thomas to start the bottom of the eighth and was replaced by O’Day. Jeroloman nailed Thomas attempting to swipe second and the righty fanned junior Josh Bell and senior Karl Amonite to end the frame. Jeroloman has now thrown out 25 of 44 baserunners this season.
LaPorta led off the ninth with his third hit, a double to the right-field corner. Sophomore Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) poked a base-hit into right, but LaPorta was gunned down at the plate on a bullet from Thomas to Bell. Following an intentional walk to Jeroloman, senior John Madden induced a grounder from Tordi to hold AU’s deficit at 4-2.
LaPorta led the Gators by going 3-for-4 with three RBI and Leclerc was 2-for-4. Freshman Brandon McArthur’s (Seffner, Fla.) 15-game hitting streak ended with a 0-for-4 performance. UF will send junior RHP Alan Horne (Marianna, Fla.) (3-2, 4.30) to the hill tomorrow at 4 p.m. CT against junior RHP Josh Sullivan (6-3, 3.78).