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Friday February 10, 2006Baseball Blanks Cincinnati, 10-0, In Season Opener

Gainesville, FL

Before an overflow crowd of 4,488 fans at McKethan Stadium on Friday night, the No. 1 Gator baseball team raised the curtain on its 2006 campaign with a 10-0 shutout of Cincinnati (0-1). Senior Bryan Ball (Punta Gorda, Fla.) worked five scoreless innings to pick up the win, while junior All-American Adam Davis (Fort Myers, Fla.) was 3-for-5 with three RBI and sophomore Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) belted a solo home run and scored twice.  


“We were very excited to start the season in front of such a lively crowd,” said head coach Pat McMahon. “It was great for our team to have this type of support from the Gator fans and I am pleased they went home happy. Having a variety of players in different roles for us contribute in the first game is a positive step.”


The Bearcats threatened in the top of the first by putting runners on the corners with two down but came away empty-handed against Ball. The right-hander struck out senior LaFringe Hayes to begin the game and freshman Josh Harrison followed with an infield single and took second on a throwing error. Ball retired senior Mark Muscenti on a fly out to center before a base-hit to left from senior Logan Parker gave the Bearcats two men aboard. The hurler induced a ground ball from senior Jon DeLuca that Davis scooped up and threw over to McArthur to keep UC off the board.


The Gators sent 10 batters to the plate against freshman Steve Blevins and opened the scoring with four hits and four runs in the second inning. Junior Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) started the frame with a double into left and moved to third on a fielding error by the shortstop. A grounder to first base by McArthur allowed Leclerc to come across with the initial run. Sophomore Matt Gaski (Greensboro, N.C.) drew a walk, stole second and advanced to third on an infield hit by junior Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee, Fla.). Senior Chris Woods (Gainesville, Fla.) drew a free pass to fill the sacks before senior Stephen Barton (Miami, Fla.) popped out in foul territory for the second out. A two-run single by Davis increased UF’s lead to 3-0 and junior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) sliced an RBI single to bring home the fourth run. Junior Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Leclerc flew out to deep center to end the stanza.


Florida kept its offense going in the third inning, as McArthur led off with a single and Gaski earned a free pass. With one down, Woods’ liner eluded a diving effort by junior left fielder Brian Szarmach for an RBI single. A two-out double by Davis plated Gaski and left Woods perched on third base. The Bearcats elected to walk LaPorta to fill the sacks and the move paid off when Blevins caught Jeroloman looking on strikes to hold the margin at 6-0.


McArthur launched his third career home run into the left-field bleachers with one down in the fourth for a 7-0 Gator advantage. Gaski stroked a one-out single and Dickey was plunked by a pitch from Blevins before Woods smacked a double into the left-field corner. Although Gaski scored with ease, Dickey was erased at the plate on a relay from Szarmach to freshman shortstop Adam Yeager to junior catcher Nick Maragas.  


Sophomore Michael Branham (Tampa, Fla.) relieved Ball (5.0 IP, five hits, three strikeouts) in the sixth and walked a couple of batters before being replaced by classmate Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.). The righty induced a 4-6-3 double play and permitted a walk to Szarmach. Soon after, Leclerc ended the frame with a diving stab of a liner by senior Jack Nelson.


UF tacked on another run in the seventh on a two-out RBI single by Leclerc that plated Barton. With two down in the eighth, freshman Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.) singled in his first career at bat to bring home Dickey with Orange and Blue’s final tally.


Florida out-hit Cincinnati, 15-5, but stranded 15 runners on base. Six different Gators recorded multiple-hit efforts: Davis, Gaski  LaPorta, Leclerc, McArthur and Woods. Gaski went 2-for-2 with three runs and a pair of walks. Blevins was tagged for the loss after yielding 11 hits and eight earned runs in four innings, with junior Nick Buscemi (3.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R) and sophomore Adam Calez (1 IP, 1 H) finishing up the game on the hill for UC. Edmondson registered three K in a career-high three innings, while freshman Matt Hightower (Cartersville, Ga.) was perfect in the ninth to close the game.


The teams will meet in game two tomorrow at 4 p.m., with Florida sophomore RHP Bryan Augenstein (Sebastian, Fla.) against Bearcat junior LHP Kyle Rapp.


Game Notes

  • Florida improved to 52-39-1 all-time in season openers, including 32-19-1 at home.
  • The Gators’ last shutout on opening day came during a 14-0 win over Gardner-Webb on Feb. 7, 2004.
  • UF’s last shutout was a 10-0 blanking of Michigan State in Gainesville on March 13, 2005.
  • Senior Bryan Ball improved to 14-3 at McKethan Stadium.
  • The Gators turned four double plays tonight, their most since having four against Stetson on May 18, 2005.
  • Chris Woods was 2-for-12 last season and finished 2-for-3 with two RBI in his first career start.
  • Josh Edmondson worked three hitless innings tonight after throwing 3.2 frames as a rookie.
  • Pat McMahon is now 10-4 in season debuts as a head coach.




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