BASEBALL: Gators take game two from Auburn

Florida (13-13/3-2 SEC) used a seven-run, seventh-inning outburst to hand No. 21 Auburn (18-8/0-5 SEC) a 12-9 setback on Saturday afternoon before 2,917 fans at Plainsman Park. The victory clinched the weekend series for the Gators, who will send freshman RHP Billy Bullock (Valrico, Fla.) (2-3, 5.33) to the mound in tomorrow’s finale at 3 p.m. against sophomore LHP Evan Crawford (3-1, 4.56).

Senior Chris Petrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) was a career-high 4-for-4 with two runs, senior Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI and a couple of runs, while freshman Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) snapped a 6-6 tie with a bases-loaded two-run single and notched three RBI. Junior Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) matched a career-high with 4.2 innings of relief, giving up five hits and one earned run, to move to 2-1 on the campaign. Senior David Hurst (Jacksonville, Fla.) recorded the final two outs to pick up his second save. The Tigers committed a season-high seven errors in dropping their 15th consecutive league contest.

Trailing 6-5 entering the seventh, Florida had three hits, drew five walks and was hit once to take a 12-6 lead. After sophomore starter Paul Burnside departed following six full innings in which he yielded eight hits and five runs (two earned), Florida responded to the move with a seven-run outburst to take control. Junior Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla.) smoked a ball off sophomore Justin Bristow (1-2) that glanced off freshman Robert Brooks’ glove at second and moved over on a balk. Sophomore Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) was plunked for a pair of runners aboard and Petrie’s fourth hit loaded the sacks with none out. Sophomore Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.) smashed a game-tying pinch-hit single and den Dekker followed with a two-run knock into center to give Florida an 8-6 lead and prompt a pitching change. Rookie Scott Shuman walked junior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.) to load the bases again and issued another free pass to Leclerc for a 9-6 count. Freshman Cole Figueroa’s (Tallahassee, Fla.) sacrifice fly brought in den Dekker for a four-run Florida cushion and back-to-back walks to Barber and Barnes put UF up 11-6 and triggered another change. Junior Josh Blake took over for Shuman (0.2 IP, 4 BB, 2 R) and walked freshman pinch hitter Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) for another score.

After Florida left the bases loaded in the top of the first against Burnside, Auburn cashed in on its own opportunity with the sacks full on a sacrifice fly by Brooks to open the scoring. Senior Bruce Edwards and sophomore Luke Greinke had a consecutive singles off sophomore Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.) and junior Josh Donaldson walked to fill the bags with none out. The left-hander forced Edwards at home when sophomore Mike Bianucci grounded out and a fly ball to center by Brooks scored Greinke. Although Locke’s wild pitch moved two Tigers into scoring position and another free pass to senior Andy Bennett re-loaded the bases, he had rookie Ross Smith fly out to hold the margin at 1-0.

Helped by an AU error, the Gators answered with two unearned runs in the second to take a 2-1 lead. Petrie singled through the right side to start things off and freshman Hampton Tignor’s (Sarasota, Fla.) grounder was misplayed by Brooks, allowing Petrie to occupy third. Den Dekker lofted his first sacrifice fly to center to even the score and Leclerc extended his hitting streak to six games with a one-out RBI double.

Florida tacked on another run in the third on a single by Petrie that scored Figueroa. Figueroa had reached on a leadoff throwing error by Burnside and advanced to second on Barber’s flyout. Barnes beat out a bunt for runners on the corners and Petrie collected his 10th RBI with a base-hit into right center.

The Tigers seized a 4-3 edge in the home part of the third and chased Locke in the process. Donaldson punched a one-out single into center and moved to second when Barnes mishandled the relay throw. Bianucci roped an RBI double to narrow the gap to 3-2 and Brooks followed with a hard single to left that tied the game. An error on the play by Petrie put the runner on second and Smith produced a two-out base-knock to put the hosts in front. Freshman Kyle Mullaney (Jacksonville, Fla.) was called in from the bullpen to replace Locke, who gave up six hits and four runs (three earned) over 2.2 innings.

In the fourth, UF answered on a run-scoring single with two down by Figueroa to even the game at 4-4. Leclerc made it six multiple-hit outings in a row by belting a double into right and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Soon after, Figueroa raised his hitting streak to a team-best 11 games with a hit up the middle and now paces the Gators with 25 RBI.

The Tigers reclaimed the upper hand on a single into shallow center by Greinke that plated Edwards and built a 6-4 lead on another RBI single by Bianucci. Edwards had drawn a two-out walk, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Tignor and Greinke won an eight-pitch at bat to give AU the edge. Following a walk to Donaldson, Bianucci sliced a single into left to end the afternoon for Mullaney (1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 BB).

LaPorta sent Burnside’s 3-2 offering with two out in the sixth high over the Green Monster for a solo shot to bring the Gators within 6-5. It was the 60th round-tripper of the slugger’s career and first since March 6 versus Jacksonville. Later trailing 12-6, the Tigers added a run in the seventh on a pinch-hit single by sophomore Ben Jones and tacked on two more scores in the ninth on a fielder’s choice by Jones and an RBI single by freshman Dustin Spruill.

Auburn out-hit the Gators, 14-13, and the teams combined for 12 errors. For the Tigers, Bianucci was 3-for-5 and the trio of Edwards, Greinke and Brooks contributed two hits apiece. Neer was 2-for-3 off the bench for Florida.