Gators beat Stetson 8-3 in NCAA Tourney Play

The Charlotte County duo of Matt LaPorta and Bryan Ball combined to propel top seed Florida over Stetson 8-3 in NCAA Regional action Saturday. LaPorta belted a two-run home run in the first inning that gave the Gators a lead they would not relinquish, giving the strapping sophomore a place in the Florida record books. Ball picked up his seventh win of the year holding the Hatters to a pair of earned runs in 6.2 innings.

With Florida trailing 1-0 after one-half inning of play, LaPorta blasted a towering shot over the left field wall off of Stetson starter Chris Ingoglia. The homer moved LaPorta into the books as the only player to hit 24 round trippers at Florida in a single season. The record had been shared by Brad Wilkerson ('97 & '98) and Ryan Shealy ('01).

"I thought that Chris made a very good pitch to LaPorta but LaPorta does what he does," Stetson Coach Pete Dunn said. "He not only hits mistakes but he hits pretty good pitches, too. He (LaPorta) was out on his front foot and he still hit it. I think he actually one-handed it. But, that's what great hitters do. He'll make you pay for mistake but I really don't think that was a mistake on Chris' part."

LaPorta went two for four and drove in three runs. He scored a game high four times.

"I've got to tip my hat to LaPorta," Ingoglia said. "He hit a great pitch and he hit it a long way. It was a curveball. I'd like to think … I'm going to have to review it … but I think it was down and had great break, too. Guys were telling me that he was even out in front, but that guy, you look at his stats and he's a great hitter.

They key inning was the sixth. The Hatters had two men on with only one out, but Ball battled back and struck out first baseman Nick Palmisano on a full count. He then got catcher David Golliner to pop out to Adam Davis at second.

In their half of the inning, the Gators recorded two outs on two pitches by Ingoglia. However, Adam Davis singled up the middle. LaPorta walked and Brian Jeroloman was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Third baseman Brandon McArthur laced a single to right off of Stetson reliever Jon Sistrunk, scoring Davis and LaPorta. Brian LeClerc followed with a single up the middle giving the Gators an 8-2 lead. LeClerc went three for four with three RBI's.

Ball was behind in the count on eight of the first ten batters he faced. However, he adjusted and was actually ahead of seven of the first nine hitters that he faced in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings.

"I did struggle for awhile locating my fastball," Ball said. "When you're doing that, you just have to pour it in there and let them put it in play. That's what we're taught to do."

Reliever Connor Falkenbach closed out the final 2.1 innings. The submariner did not allow a run on four hits.

"I look up at the scoreboard at the end and saw that we had twelve or thirteen hits," Dunn said. "We didn't lack for hitting, but obviously Florida did a really good job of getting out of jams. (Florida) was giving us base hits in non-scoring situations. We got hits, but we weren't very efficient. But, you really gotta tip your hat to their bullpen and Ball."

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