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Friday February 17, 2006No. 1 Baseball Holds Off No. 16 Miami, 2-1, In Series Opener

Coral Gables, FL

With the tying run perched at third base in the bottom of the ninth inning, top-ranked Florida (4-1) turned a game-ending double play to nip host No. 16 Miami (6-4), 2-1, in the series opener between the clubs at Mark Light Field on Friday afternoon. Summoned from the bullpen to face junior pinch hitter Roger Tomas with runners on the corners, Gator senior Darren O’Day (Jacksonville, Fla.) induced a ground ball to sophomore second baseman Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.). McArthur tagged senior Tommy Giles for the first out and threw over to junior first baseman Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) to end the game.  


Senior Bryan Ball (Punta Gorda, Fla.) improved to 2-0 on the season with seven strong innings in which he scattered seven hits, totaled five strikeouts and allowed one run. Sophomore Carlos Gutierrez fell to 3-1 after yielding four hits and two runs over 6.1 innings. The right-hander walked five batters and notched four K. Miami out-hit the Gators, 9-4, while UF left 11 runners on base.


“I am extremely proud of the way our guys competed and showed great field presence,” said head coach Pat McMahon. “From an offensive perspective, we battled pitch counts throughout the game and were able to manufacture two runs without a hit. Bryan (Ball) was outstanding and provided valuable senior leadership to begin the series.”  


A two-double in the second by freshman Dennis Raben off Ball gave the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead. Junior Danny Valencia poked a single through the right side of the infield with one down and moved into scoring position on Giles’ grounder. Raben then sent a 1-1 offering just beyond sophomore third baseman Matt Gaski’s (Greensboro, N.C.) reach down the line in left field to bring across the first run.


The Gators mounted a two-out rally in the top of the third against Gutierrez but came away empty-handed. Junior Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) collected his second hit of the contest with a base-hit to right and classmates LaPorta and Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) drew consecutive walks to load the bases. Gutierrez responded by catching McArthur looking on strikes to end the frame.


Junior Eddy Rodriguez led off UM’s third with a single up the middle and was sacrificed to second by freshman Blake Tekotte. Ball speared a chopper by freshman Jemile Weeks and erased Rodriguez 1-6-5 on run-down before fanning Jay.


Florida tied the game in the sixth on an RBI fielder’s choice by junior Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee, Fla.). Jeroloman walked to start things off and McArthur reached on a sacrifice bunt to give the Gators two runners aboard. A fly ball to right by sophomore Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla.) pushed Jeroloman to third and Dickey’s grounder to short plated the tying run.


Florida seized a 2-1 edge in the seventh without getting a hit. Back-to-back walks with one out to Davis and Leclerc ended the afternoon for Gutierrez. Junior Danny Gil plunked LaPorta to fill the sacks and Jeroloman delivered an RBI grounder to move the Gators in front.


Valencia beat out an infield hit to start the bottom of the seventh for the ‘Canes and Ball retired Giles (strikeout) and Raben (flyout). Sophomore Walter Diaz punched a single into right for a pair of runners on base before the righty escaped the jam by punching out Rodriguez. Ball went seven full innings for his longest outing since working 7.2 frames at Vanderbilt on May 21, 2005.


After fanning Tekotte to start UM’s eighth, junior reliever Stephen Porter (Ocoee, Fla.) issued a walk to Weeks. Following a fly out to center by Jay, Porter picked the runner off first with a 1-3-6-4 combination.


Leclerc reached on a Miami error with one down in the ninth and took second on a wild pitch by sophomore Raudel Alfonso. The right-hander stranded Leclerc on second with a strikeout of LaPorta and had Jeroloman tap back to the mound to retire the side.


Freshman Yonder Alonso singled to right to open the home portion of the inning for Miami and was replaced at first by rookie pinch runner Nick Freitas. Jeroloman gunned down the runner attempting to steal for first out but then Porter walked Valencia. A base-hit up the middle by Giles left the Hurricanes with runners on the corners and prompted a Gator pitching change, as O’Day out of the pen to close the game and pick up his first save of the year.


Diaz and Valencia each had two hits for Miami, while Dickey and Leclerc were 2-for-4 to account for UF’s offense. Florida sophomore right-hander Bryan Augenstein (Sebastian, Fla.) (1-0, 2.25 ERA) will oppose UM sophomore southpaw Manny Miguelez (1-0, 3.00 ERA) in Saturday’s contest that starts at 1 p.m. The game will be carried live on Sun Sports.    




Game Notes

  • The Gators snapped a four-game losing streak at Mark Light Field.
  • Bryan Ball picked Jon Jay off first base to end the first inning, the Gators’ first pickoff of the year.
  • All three UF outfielders made putouts in the fourth inning, Brian Leclerc (RF), Chris Woods (CF) and Gavin Dickey (LF), in that order.
  • Dickey made a diving stab in the sixth inning to rob Jay of potential extra bases.







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