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Saturday May 21, 2005LaPorta's Homer in 13th Lifts Baseball Over Vandy, 2-1

Nashville, TN

Sophomore Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) snapped a 1-1 tie with a solo home run with one down in the 13th inning as No. 12 Florida nipped Vanderbilt, 2-1, before a sellout crowd of 1,673 at Hawkins Field on Saturday afternoon. The slugger’s 23rd round-tripper of the year tied the single-season school record shared by Brad Wilkerson (1997, 1998) and Ryan Shealy (2002). More importantly, it kept the conference-leading Gators (37-18/19-10 SEC) in control of their own destiny entering the final day of the regular season. The Commodores (34-20/13-16 SEC) fell to UF by a single run for the second game in a row.

Junior Darren O’Day (Jacksonville, Fla.) threw five scoreless innings in relief, allowing just two hits, to improve to 6-3 on the campaign. Senior Mike Pete (Brandon, Fla.) retired junior Mike Baxter on an infield pop-up with a runner aboard in the bottom of the 13th to collect his first save since June 1, 2003 in an NCAA Regional game against Miami (Fla.). Although Vanderbilt’s pitching staff registered a season-high 18 strikeouts and limited Florida to four hits, senior Jeff Sues (5.2 IP, 1 H) suffered the loss to fall to 3-5.

Florida totaled a couple of hits in the first against freshman David Price but could not open the scoring. Senior Jeff Corsaletti (Port Charlotte, Fla.) began the game with a single before the southpaw notched consecutive strikeouts of sophomores Adam Davis (Fort Myers, Fla.) and LaPorta. A base-hit up the middle by sophomore Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) advanced Corsaletti to third before the left-hander had freshman Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) fly out to center.

VU threatened in the second with two runners in scoring position and none out but failed to capitalize. Junior Brian Hernandez launched his 15th double of the season and junior Bryan Ball (Punta Gorda, Fla.) uncorked a wild pitch to move the runner to third. Following a walk to junior Warner Jones, another wild pitch put the Commodores in prime position. A ground ball by senior Matt Zeller to LaPorta resulted in Hernandez being nailed at the dish and Ball worked out of the jam by fanning rookie Dominic De La Osa and having sophomore Aaron Garza pop out to right field.

Ball had retired 13 straight Commodores before Feinberg punched a one-out single into shallow center field in the sixth. A grounder by senior Antoan Richardson moved his teammate over and Baxter coaxed a walk from the right-hander. A grounder by Hernandez forced Baxter at second with the final out. Price set down 14 consecutive Gators until McArthur drew a walk with one down in the seventh. Undaunted, the lefty made Leclerc his 10th strikeout victim of the afternoon and then tied his career high for K by whiffing Tordi.

Sophomore RHP Michael Wagner replaced Price (7.0 IP, 11 K, 2 H, 2 BB) at the start of the eighth and was greeted by a pinch-hit single from junior Stephen Barton (Miami, Fla.). After sophomore Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee, Fla.) fouled off a sacrifice bunt attempt and struck out, freshman Cody Crowell took over on the mound for Vanderbilt. Corsaletti and Davis each walked on four pitches to load the bases for Gators, prompting another pitching change. With LaPorta at the plate, Sues let loose a wild pitch to allow Barton to score the game’s opening run. LaPorta was walked intentionally to fill the sacks again before the right-hander caught Jeroloman looking on strikes and had McArthur ground out to hold the deficit at 1-0.

Vanderbilt knotted the game at 1-1 in the home portion of the inning. Ball issued a walk with one down to freshman David Macias and had Feinberg chase a pitch in the dirt for his fifth and final strikeout of the contest. After Richardson delivered an infield single for two runners aboard, sophomore Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.) was called on to replace Ball (four hits in 7.2 innings). Baxter roped a 1-2 offering from the lefty down the first-base line that LaPorta deflected, but not enough to prevent the tying run from coming across. O’Day entered the ballgame with runners on the corners and induced a grounder from Hernandez that forced Baxter at second.

UF put its first two runners on base in 12th but could not break the 1-1 stalemate. Sophomore Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) reached on an error to start the frame and junior Justin Tordi (Orlando, Fla.) drew a walk from Sues. A fly out to right by Barton pushed Leclerc to third before a fielder’s choice by Dickey resulted in Leclerc being caught in a rundown and thrown out. With Dickey and Tordi occupying second and third, respectively, Corsaletti rounded out to second base. VU freshman Dominic De La Osa sliced a one-out single in the bottom of the inning but was doubled off first base when sophomore Stephen Shao flew out to Dickey, who fired a relay all the way to first to end the frame.

Feinberg and Baxter contributed two hits apiece for the Commodores, who held a 7-4 advantage in hits. Four different players accounted for Florida’s offense. The Gators will throw senior Tommy Boss (Dunnellon, Fla.) (6-3, 4.91) in the series finale against VU junior LHP Ryan Mullins (6-1, 3.71). The game will begin at 2 p.m. ET and air live on Sun Sports.

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