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Friday March 3, 2006Texas A&M Takes Opener Against No. 5 Baseball, 4-0

Gainesville, FL

Junior Kyle Nicholson, junior Jason Meyer and sophomore Jordan Chambless combined on five-hit shutout as Texas A&M (12-1) blanked fifth-ranked Florida (8-5), 4-0, on Friday night at McKethan Stadium in front of 3,915 fans. With the Aggies holding a 1-0 advantage in the ninth, junior Josh Stinson roped a three-run double with two outs and the bases loaded to provide added insurance.

 

Nicholson (3-0) scattered five hits over six innings, Meyer tossed two scoreless frames and Chambless set down the Gators 1-2-3 to close the game and pick up his third save. Senior Bryan Ball (Punta Gorda, Fla.) fell to 2-2 despite a career-high 8.2 innings in which he allowed five hits and two runs with seven strikeouts.

 

“I think that losses are very difficult to handle,” said head coach Pat McMahon. “Everyone would say they want to win, but it is how they handle it when they don’t win that matters. Our guys play with class, work hard and give an all-out effort. We have to continue to battle through this stretch and we will. I am really proud of Bryan’s performance. He competed his heart out and we defended the field better behind him.”

 

Texas A&M grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a sacrifice fly to left by junior Austin Boggs. Sophomore Blake Stouffer drew a one-out walk from Ball and the Aggies executed a hit-and-run with senior Jose Salazar, resulting in runners on the corners. Boggs’ third sac fly of the year gave him four RBI. After sophomore Spencer Jackson produced a line-drive single and Ball twisted his ankle, requiring the pitcher to walk it off for a few minutes, the right-hander had junior Jake Vasquez ground out.    

 

Vasquez doubled down the right-field line in the fourth and advanced to third on junior Adam Hale’s grounder to second. Ball punched out Josh Stinson to keep the Gators down a run. UF threatened in the bottom of the inning but was held at bay by Nicholson. Junior Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee, Fla.) legged out an infield hit with one down and junior Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) sliced a single into left center. A&M senior center fielder John Infante threw out Dickey trying to take third, as Leclerc moved to second on relay. Junior Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) drew a walk before Nicholson had junior Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) fly out to end the frame.

 

Freshman Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.) reached on an Aggie error to begin the fifth and was sacrificed to second by junior David Cash (Odessa, Fla.). Although sophomore Matt Gaski’s (Greensboro, N.C.) grounder pushed Neer to third, Nicholson had senior Stephen Barton (Miami, Fla.) pop up to third for the final out.

 

Leclerc singled up the middle with two down in the sixth and raced over to third when Nicholson’s pickoff throw skipped past the first baseman. The hurler responded with his third strikeout of the night when Pride went down swinging on a 3-2 pitch.

 

Ball mowed down 15 consecutive A&M hitters before Boggs’ double with one down in the ninth barely eluded Leclerc. The righty closed the longest outing of his career with a strikeout of Jackson, his seventh K of the night to equal his personal best. After junior Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.) issued an intentional walk to junior pinch hitter Craig Stinson, sophomore Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) walked sophomore pinch hitter Keith Stein, Jr., to fill the sacks with two down. Josh Stinson then cleared the bases with his second two-bagger to complete the four-run margin.

 

Texas A&M held a 6-5 advantage in hits, as Salazar finished 2-for-4. For Florida, Dickey and Leclerc were each 2-for-4. The Orange and Blue slipped to 5-5 at home with its third loss in a row.

 

Game Notes

  • Gavin Dickey hit his second double of the season in the first inning.
  • Bryan Ball’s previous high was 8.1 innings against Mississippi State on May 13, 2005.
  • Ball has totaled seven strikeouts on four occasions, the most recent before tonight was versus South Carolina on March 25, 2005.
  • Texas A&M now leads the all-time series, 2-0.
  • Tonight was the clubs’ first meeting since May 23, 1992, a 6-5 Aggie triumph in Gainesville.
  • The Gators have been shutout twice in the last three games after being blanked once all of last year.
  • Matt LaPorta missed his fifth straight game for Florida.

 

-UF-

 

 

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