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Wednesday February 22, 2006No. 1 Baseball Tops FAMU, 15-5

Gainesville, FL

Powered by a six-run second inning and a 14-hit offensive outburst, top-ranked Florida (7-1) notched a 15-5 win over Florida A&M on Wednesday night at McKethan Stadium. Junior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) belted his third career grand slam and classmate Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee, Fla.) (2-for-4) equaled his career high with four runs batted in to lift the Gators to their 15th straight triumph over the Rattlers (1-10). Sophomore Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) (2-0) threw two scoreless frames and established a career-high with four strikeouts to collect the victory.

 

“We answered the call tonight,” said Pat McMahon. “Although Florida A&M put up numbers, we countered with offensive production with two outs. While constant bombardment is important, we have to get some guys to step forward offensively and on the mound. I was impressed with our home crowd tonight, it means a lot to the ballclub when we have a significant home-field advantage.”

 

Florida A&M’s first three hitters of the contest reached base against freshman Jarrod Langlois (Jacksonville, Fla.) as the visitors built a 2-0 lead. Junior Stanley Gnat opened the game with a single into left field and senior Chris Lee followed with an RBI double down the left-field line. A wild pitch advanced Lee to third and sophomore Corey McFaden punched a single to give the visitors a two-run advantage. McFaden moved into scoring position with his second stolen base of the season and took third on a grounder by sophomore Allen DeCambra but was stranded to end the frame.

 

The Gators answered in the bottom of the first with a two-run double by junior Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) to even the score. Juniors Adam Davis (Fort Myers, Fla.) and Chris Petrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) had back-to-back singles before junior Blair Mercer (0-2, 8 H, 8 R) retired LaPorta on an infield fly. Jeroloman stepped to the dish and produced his second two-bagger of the year into the right-field to drive in his teammates.   

 

A two-out rally in the second by Florida, highlighted by LaPorta’s towering homer and a two-run triple by Dickey, resulted in an 8-2 margin. Sophomore Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla.) led off with a single to right and sophomore Matt Gaski (Greensboro, N.C.) was hit by a pitch with one down. After a walk to Davis loaded the bases, Mercer fanned Petrie. LaPorta then launched a 0-1 pitch into the left-field bleachers for his second homer of the campaign. Jeroloman earned a free pass and junior Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) sliced a single before Dickey’s triple to straightaway center gave the hosts a six-run cushion.

 

Freshman Chas Spottswood (Key West, Fla.) took over for Langlois (2.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 K) in the third and Decambra came through with a two-out RBI single to make the score 8-3. After Spottswood put down the first two hitters, McFaden singled up the middle and junior Anthony Mazzeo earned a free pass to set the table for Decambra.   

 

The Gators added two runs in the fourth on a broken bat two-run single by Dickey to build a 10-2 cushion. Jeroloman reached on an error to start things off and Leclerc walked before a wild pitch by junior reliever Stephen Register uncorked a wild pitch to put the runners in scoring position. In a bizarre play, Dickey shattered the aluminum bat on a 3-2 offering with a base-hit into left to match his career best of four RBI.        

 

Three straight singles by FAMU to open the sixth ended the stint for junior reliever Patrick Thompson (Gainesville, Fla.), who had worked a scoreless fifth in which he allowed one hit. With the sacks full, senior Kevin Clethan greeted Edmondson with a sacrifice fly to center. However, the submariner prevented further damage with consecutive strikeouts of Gnat and Lee to hold the count at 10-4.  

 

UF increased its margin to 15-4 with five runs on three hits in the eighth. Facing junior Matt Davis, Leclerc drew a leadoff walk, Dickey was hit by a pitch for the fourth time in the last two games and senior pinch hitter Stephen Barton (Miami, Fla.) earned a base on balls to fill the bags and force a pitching change. Freshman pinch hitter Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.) stroked a two-run single off junior Austin Dill and a flyout by Gaski pushed Barton to third. Davis’ infield hit brought across another run and senior Chris Woods (Gainesville, Fla.) singled to load the bases again. Junior Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) notched his first RBI as a Gator with a groundout and a passed ball enabled Davis to score the hosts’ final run.

 

Gnat began the ninth with a walk against freshman Matt Hightower (Cartersville, Ga.) and stole second. A base-hit by Lee gave the Rattlers runners on the corners, but the southpaw countered with a punch-out of McFaden. A balk by Hightower allowed Gnat to score and Lee to occupy second. However, the left-hander closed out FAMU by retiring Mazzeo and Decambra.

 

Four players turned in multiple-hit outings for McMahon’s team: Davis (2-for-3, three runs, three walks), Jeroloman (2-for-4, two RBI, two runs), Dickey and Petrie (2-for-4). The Rattlers tallied 12 hits against UF’s six pitchers, as Lee, Mazzeo, McFaden and Elvin Millan chipped in with two apiece.

 

The Gators will welcome No. 12 Missouri (4-2), Ohio State (0-0) and Wake Forest (3-3) to McKethan Stadium this weekend for The Pepsi Baseball Classic, a three-day round-robin event. The Buckeyes and Demon Deacons will start the event on Friday at 2 p.m., with the hosts facing the Tigers at 6:30 p.m. Senior right-hander Bryan Ball (Punta Gorda, Fla.) (2-0, 0.75 ERA) will start for Florida against Missouri junior All-American Max Scherzer (1-0, 1.50 ERA), the 2005 Big 12 Pitcher of the Year.

 

Game Notes

  • Entering tonight, the Gators had surrendered one run in the first inning through seven games.
  • Chris Petrie made his first start at UF in left field.
  • Matt LaPorta now has 42 career home runs: 19 solo, 10 two-run, 10 three-run and three grand slams.
  • Gavin Dickey also had four RBI against Cincinnati on Feb. 12.
  • Josh Edmondson won Sunday’s game at No. 16 Miami (Fla.) for his first collegiate win.
  • The Gators’ 14 hits matched their second-highest output of the campaign, one behind the 15 versus Cincinnati on opening night, Feb. 10.

 

-UF-

 

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