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Sunday April 24, 2005No. 5 Baseball Rallies for Sweep of No. 23 Auburn, 6-3

Auburn, AL

Fifth-ranked Florida overcame a 3-0 deficit with six unanswered runs to complete its first-ever sweep of 23rd-ranked Auburn at Plainsman Park on Sunday afternoon, 6-3, in front of 3,036 fans. Offensively, the Gators (30-10/13-5 SEC) used a game-tying three-run homer in the third inning by sophomore Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) and a two-run, two-out single by sophomore Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) in the seventh to upend the Tigers (25-17/8-10 SEC).

Freshman Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.) (3.1 IP, two hits) and senior Connor Falkenbach (Parkland, Fla.) (4.1 IP, four hits, four strikeouts) worked 7.2 innings of scoreless ball in relief for the visitors. Falkenbach improved to 3-1 with the decision, while senior John Madden fell to 6-1 with the defeat.

Florida filled the sacks in the first inning against freshman Cliff Mullins but could not push anything across. Sophomore Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee, Fla.) singled through the left side of the infield with one out and advanced to second on an errant pickoff throw by Mullins. Sophomore Adam Davis (Fort Myers, Fla.) reached on an infield hit to extend his hitting streak to 10 games and a grounder by sophomore Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) was misplayed, loading the bases. Mullins worked out of the jam by having Leclerc pop up to third and freshman Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) fly out to right.

In the bottom of the inning, senior Karl Amonite gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead with a towering three-run homer. Making his first start since April 1 against Kentucky, junior Bryan Ball (Punta Gorda, Fla.) issued consecutive walks to juniors Clete Thomas and Josh Bell with one down. Soon after, Amonite blasted a 3-2 pitch into the right-field bullpen for his seventh round-tripper of the campaign.

Auburn threatened to pad its lead in the second, loading the bases and chasing Ball in the process. Freshman Josh Donaldson walked to start things off and junior Adam Stacey reached on an error before the righty struck out sophomore Bruce Edwards. After Johnstone earned a free pass, Locke took over on the mound for the Gators. The move paid immediate dividends, as the southpaw induced a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play by Thomas. Over 1.1 innings, Ball walked four batters, allowed one hit and recorded a pair of strikeouts.

Leclerc knotted the game at 3-3 in the third with his ninth home run of the season to straightaway center field. Dickey and Davis had earned back-to-back walks in the third before Mullins jammed LaPorta on infield fly. Leclerc connected on the hurler’s 0-1 offering to even the score.

The Gators had runners on second and third in the fourth but could not break the stalemate. Junior Stephen Barton (Miami, Fla.) stroked a one-out single up the middle and Dickey was later plunked with two down. A wild pitch by Mullins pushed the runners into scoring position but Davis grounded out to Amonite to end the frame.

Leclerc reached on an error in the fifth, stole second and was awarded third base on defensive interference. However, sophomore reliever Jared Shore caught Jeroloman looking on strikes to preserve the tie. In the home portion of the inning, Thomas ripped a base-hit up the middle with one out and Amonite later drew a two-out walk, prompting a pitching change. Falkenbach came out of the bullpen and struck out junior Jeff Boutwell for the final out of the stanza.

Barton punched a single to center in the sixth but was forced at second on a fielder’s choice by Corsaletti. After Madden entered the ballgame, Corsaletti stole second for his 10th theft in 11 opportunities. The right-hander left the Gator in scoring position by fanning Dickey.

Jeroloman delivered a clutch two-out, two-run single in the seventh to give Florida a 5-4 lead. LaPorta singled with one down against Madden, bringing junior Michael Nix into the fray. Leclerc greeted the reliever with a base-hit to left to advance LaPorta before a groundout by McArthur advanced the runners into scoring position. On a 3-1 pitch from Nix, Jeroloman snapped the tie with a smash into left center field.

Barton collected his fourth hit of the game with a single to start the eighth and Corsaletti followed with a flare into left. After Dickey grounded into a double play, a passed ball allowed Barton to come racing home with UF’s sixth run. Florida turned a season-high three double plays of its own this afternoon. Leclerc finished 2-for-5 with three RBI and two runs, while Donaldson was 3-for-3 to lead Auburn.

The Gators return to action on Friday night by hosting Eastern Division rival Tennessee (28-12/10-7 SEC) in the opener of a three-game series. The Vols dropped two of three games at Vanderbilt this weekend.

-UF-

 

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