LaPorta’s 2 homers lead Gators by LSU

Florida (26-25/13-12 SEC) pounded out 21 hits and socked four home runs on its way to a 19-3 conquest of LSU (28-22-1/11-13-1 SEC) on Friday night at Alex Box Stadium. Senior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) returned to the lineup after missing three games and went 4-for-5 with a pair of homers and matched his career high with six RBI. Now hitting .440 overall and .493 in SEC action, the slugger leads the league with 19 homers and has 73 in his career.

Senior Chris Petrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) (4-for-5) cranked a first-inning grand slam and drove in a career-high five runs as eight of UF’s nine starters turned in multiple-hit efforts. Petrie was a double shy of hitting for the cycle. Freshman right-hander Kyle Mullaney (Jacksonville, Fla.) worked a career-high eight innings, permitting three runs on eight hits, to improve to 4-1. The 19 runs were the most the Gators have ever scored against the Tigers and the 16-run margin was their highest in the 75-game history between the squads.

The Gators jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first frame against junior Jared Bradford (10-3), highlighted by Petrie’s first career grand slam. Freshman Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) (3-for-6) opened the game with a base-hit up the middle but was erased at second on sophomore Avery Barnes’ (High Springs, Fla.) (2-for-6, four runs) fielder’s choice. After LaPorta was hit by a pitch, senior Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) (2-for-5, two runs) put UF on the board with a two-out single to right field and classmate Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) was plunked to fill the sacks. Petrie cranked Bradford’s 1-0 offering deep to right field for his second homer of the year and first since Feb. 20 against Florida State.

The Tigers answered with a run in the bottom of the inning off Mullaney courtesy of an RBI groundout by freshman Sean Ochinko. Sophomore Nicholas Pontiff led off with a single and moved to third on a one-out hit by freshman Blake Dean, who advanced to second on the relay throw. Ochinko’s grounder to third brought in LSU’s first run.

UF expanded its advantage to 8-1 in the second on an RBI single by LaPorta and a two-run homer by junior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.). Bradford retired the first two batters on two pitches before Barnes ripped a single to right center. After Barnes moved into scoring position with his theft, LaPorta lined a base-knock to left. Townsend then belted Bradford’s 3-2 pitch into the left-field bleachers for his sixth homer and a seven-run cushion. The SEC’s leader in wins, Bradford was yanked after two innings in which he yielded eight runs on six hits.

Another five-run outburst in the fourth for Florida resulted in a 13-1 margin. Barnes started the frame with his second hit of the night and LaPorta launched his league-leading 18th homer to left center off junior Kyle Beerbohm for a 10-1 bulge. Townsend and Leclerc followed with consecutive singles and Petrie’s one-out single to right scored Townsend. Sophomore Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.) roped his team-leading 12th double to plate Leclerc and a fielding error enabled Petrie to score. Freshman Matt Jackson relieved Beerbohm (1.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R) and worked the final 5.2 frames for the Tigers.

The Tigers scored two runs on three hits in the fifth to make the count 13-3. Sophomore Buzzy Haydel opened with a single, sophomore Robert Lara followed with a double and Pontiff chipped in with an RBI single before junior Michael Hollander’s fielder’s choice scored Lara. UF tacked on another run in the sixth for a 14-3 lead on a two-out single by Figueroa that scored freshman Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), who had doubled.

The Gators added five more runs in the eighth, featuring an absolute jack to left by LaPorta that ballooned the score to 19-3. Petrie tripled to right field with one down and came home on Neer’s single. A walk to den Dekker and flare to center by Figueroa loaded the bases. After a fielder’s choice by Barnes scored Neer, LaPorta sent a towering shot completely out of Alex Box Stadium for his sixth multi-homer game of the campaign.

Junior right-hander Bryan Augenstein (Sebastian, Fla.) (5-5, 5.98) will face LSU junior southpaw Charlie Furbush (3-7, 4.84) in game two of the series tomorrow at 4 p.m. The contest is the SEC’s Game of the Week and will air live on Sun Sports. 

Courtesy UF Sports Info