BASEBALL: LaPorta SEC Player Of Week

After a spectacular weekend in which he helped the Gator baseball team to a series victory over second-ranked Miami (Fla.), sophomore Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) was named as the SEC Player of the Week for the first time in his career on Monday afternoon. The first baseman batted a sizzling .583 (7-for-12) against the Hurricanes with five runs batted in and three home runs. His slugging percentage was an eye-popping 1.417 and he also accumulated 17 total bases.

More importantly, LaPorta's efforts at the plate were instrumental in Florida taking the final two games of the weekend set from UM.

In Friday's opener, he belted a leadoff homer in the third to give the Gators a 4-3 lead and later blasted a two-run shot in the seventh stanza to give UF a 7-6 advantage. The pair of round-trippers marked the second time in LaPorta's career that he had hit two dingers in a game. Despite his 3-for-5, three-RBI, three-run effort, the Hurricanes collected a 9-7 win by rallying for three runs in the ninth.

Florida ended a five-game losing streak to its rival on Saturday by taking a 2-1 thriller in 11 innings. LaPorta finished 3-for-4, scored the game's initial run on a double to left field by junior Justin Tordi and was walked intentionally with two outs in the 11th to load the bases. The 'Canes misplayed sophomore Brian Jeroloman's fly ball for an error soon after to end the game and send the Orange and Blue fans home happy.

In Sunday's rubber match, LaPorta was 1-for-3 and drew three walks. After the visitors pulled to within 12-10 with three runs in the top of the sixth, he mashed a two-run homer into the left field bleachers in the bottom of the frame to give the Gators some breathing room on their way to a 14-11 triumph.

Chosen as a first-team Freshman All-American by Baseball America in 2004, LaPorta sports a .296 batting average and has tallied eight RBI through seven games this season while leading UF with four homers. Now rated 12th in Baseball America's most recent poll, the Gators (5-2) return to action on Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium by hosting Florida A&M (0-13). First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m., as freshman right-hander Tommy Wynn (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) will be making his starting debut.

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