Tigers Come Up Short Against Gators

Auburn scored four runs in the first inning but couldn't score again as the Florida Gators won 5-4 on Saturday.

Auburn, Ala.-–For the second day in a row Florida's Brian LaPorta was the difference in a game as he homered and had four runs batted in to lead the Gators to a 5-4 victory over the Auburn Tigers Saturday afternoon at Plainsman Park. The win improves Florida to 29-10 overall and 12-5 in SEC play while Auburn falls to 25-16, 8-9 in conference action.

On the mound Florida's Alan Horne earned the win to improve to 4-2 overall. He gave up 11 hits, but just four runs, in seven innings and threw 124 pitches. A large number for a player that has already had Tommy John Surgery from his days at Ole Miss.

Josh Sullivan was saddled with the loss for the Tigers, giving up five runs on seven hits in five innings. Coach Tommy Slater said that the pitching was solid for Auburn as relievers Grant Cardwell, Jared Shore and John Madden came on and pitched lights out to keep the Gators at bay.

"Sully did a nice job of settling in," Slater said. "He gave us five. Unfortunately, the first inning got him up to a high pitch count. He had 27 pitches in the first and a couple of other high-pitch innings. We had him at 97 after five and he was out of gas at that point. Cardwell did a real nice job of running through the two lefties and getting a right-hander out for us. Shore coming in and getting a couple of outs for us and then we wanted to get Madden in to face LaPorta. He did a nice job of it. The bullpen was solid. We're pitching well. We had 11 hits tonight, but we need to be more productive with it."

Jeff Boutwell rounds third and heads for home with Coach Chris Finwood urging him on.

The loss spoils a terrific performance by junior outfielder Jeff Boutwell. Playing left field Boutwell had three of Auburn's hits, including an inside-the-park grand slam in the first inning to account for all four Auburn runs. He said that he doesn't really remember everything about the play except for running as fast as he can around the bases.

"I have no clue what happened today in the first inning," Boutwell said. "I got up with the bases loaded and got a hanging slider. I put a good swing on it and saw the ball hit off the fence with the center fielder and right fielder nowhere near it. I just got on my horse and ran as hard as I could. I was about to run over (Josh) Bell at third base, but I got home and everyone was telling me to get down. I just sat there for a second because I had no clue what just happened."

Things got off to a rocky start for Auburn in the first inning as Jeff Corsaletti singled to left to open the game and moved to second on a wild pitch. Following a Gavin Dickey groundout and a walk to Adam Davis, Brian LaPorta again hurt the Tigers with the long ball as he stroked one deep over the left field wall for a three-run shot. It was his 16th home run of the season and it gave Florida the early 3-0 lead.

Auburn answered back in a big way in the bottom of the first off Horne. Struggling lately at the plate in league play, Tyler Johnstone singled to right field to get the Tigers off to a hot start. Right fielder Clete Thomas followed with a single of his own to left field and to bring Josh Bell to the plate with a chance to add to his team-leading RBI total. Florida took it easy with Bell and eventually he earned a walk to load the bases with nobody out.

Karl Amonite was due up next for the Tigers and his problems continued at the dish as he struck out against Horne for the inning's first out. That brought Boutwell to the plate. Looking for a pitch to drive, Boutwell hit a long fly ball deep into left-center field that bounced off the wall and left fielder Gavin Dickey. The ball eventually rolled into left field and by the time Florida ran it down Boutwell was already at third base. Not hesitating, he scored on the heels off Bell for an inside the park grand slam. It was his second home run of the season and gives him 11 RBI this season. More importantly, it gave the Tigers back the early lead.

Josh Sullivan's record dropped to 6-4 overall with the loss.

Sullivan held down the powerful Florida offense for the next two innings, but back-to-back runs in the fourth and fifth gave the Gators back the lead. In the fourth Justin Tordi singled up the middle with one out in the inning and one out later Jeff Corsaletti doubled to center field to easily score Tordi and tie the game at four. LaPorta would again provide the damage in the fifth. Following a leadoff walk to Andy Davis, LaPorta drilled a double down the left field line to score Davis and give Florida back the lead at 5-4. That's all either team would manage the rest of the way as both bullpens did the trick. Florida reliever Conner Falkenbach was perfect in two innings of work to earn his fourth save of the season.

Box Score

The teams will play the final game of the three-game set Sunday afternoon at one o'clock. Taking the mound for the Tigers will be true freshman Cliff Mullins against Brian Ball for Florida. There is no television for the contest.

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