VMI used a four-run fifth inning and effective
pitching by junior Trey Barham to hand Florida a 5-3
defeat in both squads’ 2007 opener on Friday night in front of 3,856 fans at McKethan Stadium. The southpaw scattered seven hits and
registered six strikeouts over 5.2 innings as the Keydets
claimed the opener of the weekend series. The Gators held a 12-8 advantage in
hits, as the quartet of senior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.), junior Jon
Townsend (London, Ky.)
and freshmen Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee,
Fla.) and Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.)
had two apiece.
“This was an outstanding opening-night crowd,” said
head coach Pat McMahon. “I am so
appreciative of all of our fans who were here. We played some people who have
not played in an environment in front of that many people. Sometimes that is
difficult, but our guys will come to respond to that very well. We need to
bunch our hits together better in run-producing situations and we have to
defend the field. That is what playing is all about. We played a lot of different
people, and several young players who saw action came through for us. We will
keep working hard at it.”
The visitors seized a 1-0 lead in the second inning
on a double into the right center field gap by freshman Ryan Litz. Sophomore Eddie Van Es was hit by junior Bryan Augenstein
(Sebastian, Fla.) to start the frame and Litz followed with a two-bagger to score his teammate all
the way from first base. After rookie Justin Hess legged out a bunt to give VMI
runners on the corners, Augenstein induced a 1-6-3
double play from junior Will Smith. Following a walk to junior Shane Geisslinger, the right-hander had senior Chad Rice ground
out to third base to strand the runners.
After loading the bases with one down in the fourth,
the Gators were kept off the board by Barham. Figueroa
singled up the middle for his first collegiate hit to begin the stanza and LaPorta drew a walk. A fielder’s choice by sophomore Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.) forced
LaPorta at second base and advanced Figueroa to third
before sophomore Jared Kubin (Oakton,
Va.) smashed an infield
single off sophomore third baseman A.J. Yoder to fill the sacks. Barham rebounded with a strikeout of senior Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) and
had junior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.)
ground out to third to preserve VMI’s one-run
Helped by two Florida errors, the Keydets
erupted for four runs (three unearned) in the fifth to build a 5-0 cushion. Augenstein collected his fourth strikeout of the game to
open the inning before a fielding miscue allowed Rice to reach base. With Yoder
at the plate, VMI executed a textbook hit-and-run with Rice taking third on
Yoder’s single to center field. Senior Robert Crumpler
then delivered an RBI single to bring across the second run and sophomore
Michael Roberts connected on another base-hit to put the visitors ahead by
three. After a fielder’s choice by Van Es erased Roberts at second base for out
number two, sophomore Thomas Hayden’s grounder was misplayed into the outfield,
resulting in a five-run margin.
Townsend connected on a solo shot to left with one
down in the bottom of the frame to pull UF within 5-1. The Gators used the long
ball again the next inning, as McArthur belted a
round-tripper into the left-field bleachers with two down to reduce his club’s
deficit to 5-2. Pigott stroked a pinch-hit in his first at bat to end the night for Barham, who was a second-team All-Big South Conference
selection last season. Townsend greeted senior reliever Corey Bachman with a
base-hit for a couple runners aboard before sophomore Avery Barnes (High Springs,
Fla.) grounded out.
“VMI did a great job all night of getting ahead of
everybody in the count,” said Townsend. “That really kept guys off balance. I
ran into a slider there, and I was fortunate enough to get a piece of it. It is
never easy to lose because you want to come out strong. The great thing about
baseball is that you can come out tomorrow and play again. We are going to
stick it together.”
Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) replaced Augenstein
(6.0 IP, 7 hits, 5 R, 2 ER, 5 K, 3 BB) at the outset of the seventh and yielded
one hit over three innings. The Gators did not go quietly in the ninth, as
Barnes reached on a bunt against sophomore Kevin Crum and Figueroa sliced a
single through the right side for runners on the corners with none out. The
right-hander had LaPorta ground into a 6-4-3 double
play, although Barnes scored to trim the deficit to 5-3. Crum notched the save
by having Neer tap to short to end the game.
For the Keydets, Crumpler was 2-for-4 and Van Es scored twice. Bachman gave
up two hits over 1.1 innings of work, senior Ian Casher had one strikeout and
allowed one hit in one frame and Crum recorded the final three outs to help VMI
emerge victorious. Florida will send sophomore
LHP Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.) to the hill tomorrow at 2 p.m.
against sophomore righty Michael Bowman.
fell to 52-40-1 all-time in season openers, including 32-20-1 at home.
LaPorta singled in the first inning for UF’s initial hit of the campaign.
was the second meeting between the clubs and first since April 2, 1921, a
15-5 Gator victory.
McArthur homered in last season’s opener against
Gators started six new position players tonight, while Matt LaPorta (1B), Brian Leclerc
(RF) and Chris Petrie (LF) returned to their same spots to begin the
Kubin went 1-for-3 after being redshirted in 2006.
true freshmen saw their first collegiate action for the Gators: Cole
Figueroa, Matt den Dekker and Jonathan Pigott,
while redshirt freshman Clayton Pisani also played for the first time.