After being postponed on Friday night, top-seeded Florida opened NCAA
Regional action on Saturday with an 8-3 victory over fourth-seeded Stetson in
front of 3,670 fans at McKethan Stadium. Junior Bryan Ball (Punta Gorda, Fla.)
(7-4) worked 6.2 innings to pick up the win for the sixth-ranked Gators (41-20),
who will next face second-seeded North
Carolina (41-17-1) at 7:30 p.m. The Hatters (35-27)
will take on third-seeded Notre Dame (36-23-1) in an elimination game at 3:30
p.m. Sophomore Matt LaPorta (Port
went 2-for-4 with four runs and three RBI to power UF’s
Stetson jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI
single up the middle by sophomore Brian Bocock off
Ball. Sophomore Shane Jordan had reached on a Gator throwing error to start the
game and advanced to second on a grounder by senior John DeStefano.
LaPorta put Florida ahead in the bottom of the inning
with a two-run shot to left off Hatter sophomore Chris Ingoglia
(8-4). The homer was the 24th of the season for the 2005 SEC Player of the Year,
establishing a single-season school record. Sophomore Adam Davis (Fort Myers,
Fla.) had drawn a one-out
walk before LaPorta sent a 2-2 pitch deep into the
left-field bleachers to increase his season RBI to total to 71.
Stetson tied the game in third on DeStefano’s
eighth homer of the campaign, a ball that cleared the right-field fence. Jordan had led off the frame with a base-hit
through the hole in right and was gunned down trying to take second by
sophomore Brian Jeroloman
The Gators countered in the home portion of the inning with
two runs on four hits to seize a 4-2 advantage. Senior Jeff Corsaletti (Port
Charlotte, Fla.) started
things off with a double down the right-field line and Davis dragged a bunt to give the hosts
runners on the corners with none out. A fielder’s choice by LaPorta
brought across Corsaletti with the go-ahead run and
forced Davis at
second. Jeroloman ripped a single to move LaPorta into scoring position and a foul pop-up by freshman
Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.)
allowed LaPorta to occupy third. Sophomore Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.)
smoked a ball off Ingoglia to plate LaPorta and a throwing error by the hurler left the Orange and Blue with
runners at second and third. However, junior
Justin Tordi (Orlando, Fla.)
grounded to third to end the frame.
added to its lead in the fifth on a Texas Leaguer into
shallow center by Leclerc to assume a 5-2 lead. LaPorta laced a single to left center to open the stanza
and McArthur delivered a one-out hit before Leclerc’s
looper allowed LaPorta to
score from second base. Ingoglia worked out of
further troubles when Tordi’s bunt attempt was
snagged by junior Nick Palmisano at first and
Dickey’s liner was tracked down by freshman second baseman Chris Johnson.
The Hatters threatened to narrow the gap in the sixth by having
two runners aboard with one out, only to have Ball hold them at bay. Johnson opened the inning with a single and
later took third on a knock to right by sophomore Jon Still. Ball bounced back
with a strikeout of Palmisano on a 3-2 pitch and had freshman
David Golliner line out to Davis to preserve his
club’s three-run lead.
The Gators broke the game open with a two-out rally in the
sixth that yielded three hits and three runs for an 8-2 cushion. A single by Davis ended the afternoon
for Ingoglia, who worked 5.2 innings and gave up 11
hits and six runs. The southpaw recorded five strikeouts and issued one walk. After
junior Brandon Berlett walked the only batter he
faced, LaPorta, freshman Jon Sistrunk
entered the ballgame. The lefty plunked Jeroloman to
fill the bases and Stetson made another pitching change. McArthur greeted
freshman Robbie Elsemiller with a two-run single to
build Florida’s lead to 7-2 and Leclerc sliced an RBI
single to provide the hosts with a six-run margin.
Following a fielder’s choice by DeStefano
that erased Jordan at second
base for the second out, senior Connor Falkenbach (Parkland,
Fla.) took over on the mound
for the Gators. Over 6.2 innings, Ball scattered eight hits and permitted two
earned runs with a pair of strikeouts. Back-to-back singles by Bocock and Johnson filled the sacks and sophomore Braedyn Pruitt drew a walk to pull to within 8-3. Falkenbach had Still tap back to
the mound to prevent further scoring.
The top three hitters in Florida’s lineup, Corsaletti,
Davis and LaPorta finished 6-for-12 with seven runs
and three RBI. McArthur was 2-for-4 with a pair of runs batted in and Leclerc drove in three runs on his way to a 3-for-4 outing.
For Stetson, DeStefano and Johnson were each 3-for-4.
Matt LaPorta had been
tied with Brad Wilkerson (1997, 1998) and Ryan Shealy
(2002) atop UF’s single-season list.
LaPorta extended his
hitting streak to a career-high nine games.
Brian Jeroloman threw
out Shane Jordan attempting to steal in the third, the 35th runner he has
thrown out this year.
Jeff Corsaletti’s 15 doubles tied LaPorta for the team