Wednesday May 18, 2005LaPorta's Homer Lifts Gators Over Stetson, 6-4
Sophomore Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) launched a two-run homer with two outs in the eighth to lift No. 12 Florida to a 6-4 victory over Stetson on Wednesday night in front of 1,637 fans at McKethan Stadium. The dinger was the 21st of the season for the slugger, who was 3-for-4 and scored twice. LaPorta leads the Southeastern Conference in both home runs and runs batted in (62). The Gators (35-18) later tacked on an insurance run on an RBI single by junior Stephen Barton (Miami, Fla.) to defeat the Hatters (30-25) for the third-straight time.
Senior Mike Pete (Brandon, Fla.) worked 1.2 scoreless innings to improve to 3-0 before senior Connor Falkenbach (Parkland, Fla.) recorded the final out for his sixth save. Florida held a 15-11 advantage in hits, as sophomore Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) was 3-for-5, senior Jeff Corsaletti (Port Charlotte, Fla.) was 2-for-5 and freshman Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) and junior Justin Tordi (Orlando, Fla.) were each 2-for-4.
The Gators strung together three-straight hits in the second to take a 1-0 lead. LaPorta opened the inning with a single up the middle and Jeroloman followed with a base-hit to advance his teammate to third. Soon after, McArthrur dropped in a Texas Leaguer just inside the right-field line to put the hosts on the board. Sophomore Chris Ingoglia retired the next two batters before freshman Jared Kubin (Oakton, Va.) walked to load the bases. However, Corsaletti flew out to leave the sacks full.
Stetson totaled two runs on three hits in the third against freshman Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.) to seize a 2-1 advantage. Sophomore Jon Still doubled to left to start the frame and scored on a two-bagger by sophomore Shane Jordan. Junior Brandon Paritz then delivered a RBI single to right center to move the Hatters in front. LaPorta snared a line drive by Braedyn Pruitt and stepped on first base to complete an inning-ending double play.
The visitors increased their lead to 3-1 in the fourth on a run-scoring single by freshman David Golliner. Freshman Chris Johnson drew a free pass to lead off and raced over to third on senior John DeStefano’s one-out single. Junior Darren O’Day (Jacksonville, Fla.) relieved Locke (3.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R) and was greeted by Golliner’s hit. For the third inning in a row, the Gators used a double play to work out of the jam.
Tordi brought the Orange and Blue to within 3-2 in the bottom of the inning with a single into left that drove in McArthur. McArthur had rifled his fifth double of the campaign into the left-field corner to begin the frame for UF. After Kubin roped a single to push Tordi into scoring position, Ingoglia retired Corsaletti (flyout) and Dickey (strikeout).
Pruitt connected on a two-out single in the fifth off O’Day to give the Hatters a 4-2 lead. Jordan had punched a single with one down and moved into scoring position with his team-leading 22nd stolen base of the year. Following a grounder by Paritz that advanced Jordan, Pruitt jumped on a 1-1 offering and sent it up the middle for his 46th RBI.
The Gators trimmed the deficit to 4-3 in the seventh but left the bases full, giving them 12 runners stranded. Sophomore Adam Davis (Fort Myers, Fla.) and LaPorta earned consecutive walks to signal the end of Ingoglia’s time on the hill. The right-hander threw 119 pitches and allowed nine hits and three runs, with six strikeouts and three walks, over six innings. Jeroloman reached on a bunt against freshman Kevin Ferguson, who was replaced by rookie Corey Kluber after throwing one pitch. McArthur grounded into a 4-6-3 double play as Davis narrowed the gap to 4-3. Barton walked to give the Gators runners on the corners before Kluber plunked Tordi to load the bases. The Hatters decided to make another pitching change, as freshman Robbie Elsemiller came out of the bullpen to strike out junior pinch hitter Andy Davis (Fort Myers, Fla.).
In the eighth, Corsaletti roped a leadoff double to tie David Eckstein (1994-97) and Rodney Brewer (1985-87) for third on the school’s all-time list with 51 two-baggers. Corsaletti was erased in a rundown resulting from Dickey’s fielder’s choice and Adam Davis lofted a fly ball to advance his teammate. LaPorta stepped to the dish and tagged a 0-1 pitch from Elsemiller (3-4) over the wall in right center to provide Florida with a 5-4 lead. Jeroloman and freshman pinch hitter Matt Gaski (Greensboro, N.C.) continued the inning with back-to-back singles and Barton came through with a RBI single up the middle for a 6-4 advantage for the hosts.
Florida will next head to Nashville to close its Southeastern Conference regular season against Vanderbilt (33-18/13-14 SEC). Game one of the series between the Gators and Commodores will air live Friday night on Sun Sports at 7 p.m. UF (17-10 SEC) enters the weekend holding a half-game edge on Tennessee (37-16/16-10 SEC) and a one-game advantage over LSU (35-17/16-11 SEC).