BASEBALL: Three Gators named to USA National Team

Sophomores Adam Davis (Fort Myers, Fla.), Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) and Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) from the University of Florida were named to the 22-man roster for the 2005 USA Baseball National Team announced on Friday. The selections were made after a four-day trials period in which 39 players participated at Doak Field on the campus of North Carolina State.

The trio played a major role in the Gators enjoying the best season in school history, a runner-up finish at the NCAA College World Series and the squad's first Southeastern Conference crown since 1998. Head coach Pat McMahon's club finished with an overall mark of 48-23 and ranked second in all four of the collegiate baseball polls.

A consensus first-team All-American, as well as the SEC Player of the Year, LaPorta hit .328 and set a single-season Florida standard with a Division I-leading 26 homers. His league-best 79 runs batted in were the second-most by a Gator, trailing only Ryan Shealy's total of 80 during the 2002 campaign. LaPorta also paced the SEC with 185 total bases and seven sacrifice flies, was second in runs (75) and third in slugging percentage (.698).

A first-team All-SEC recipient and third-team All-American pick at second base by Baseball America, Davis batted .306 with 75 runs, 63 RBI, 40 walks, 15 doubles and 12 homers. He tied for fourth in the SEC with 24 stolen bases (in 31 attempts), a figure that led the Gators for the second-straight year. A second-team All-South Region choice, Davis turned in a sizzling .545 performance at the NCAA Gainesville Regional to earn all-tourney accolades and later slugged homers in CWS triumphs over Nebraska and Arizona State.

Having started all 71 games behind the plate for UF, Jeroloman garnered second-team All-SEC recognition and finished with an overall clip of .298. The catcher notched career highs across the board in hits (74), RBI (49), runs (48), doubles (11), home runs (eight). In addition, he matched senior Jeff Corsaletti (Port Charlotte, Fla.) for the top spot on the team with 50 walks. Another member of the Gainesville Regional all-tourney contingent from the hosts, Jeroloman led the SEC with 37 opposing runners caught stealing.

Returning members Ian Kennedy (Southern California, So., Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Drew Stubbs (Texas, So., Atlanta, Texas) led Team USA to the title at the 2004 FISU World Championships. The 2005 team is coached by Steve Smith (Baylor) with assistants John Cohen (Kentucky, former Gator assistant), Rob Walton (Oral Roberts) and Tim Jamieson (Missouri). Jamieson replaces Dave Van Horn of Arkansas, who had been named to the 2005 coaching staff earlier this year.

Joining Kennedy on the 2005 pitching staff were fellow right-handers Kyle McCulloch (Texas, So., Houston, Texas), Mark Melancon (Arizona, So., Golden, Colo.), Jonah Nickerson (Oregon State, So., Oregon City, Ore.), Chris Perez (Miami (Fla.), So., Holmes Beach, Fla.) and Max Scherzer (Missouri, So., Chesterfield, Mo.). Southpaws on the staff are Kevin Gunderson (Oregon State, So., Portland, Ore.), David Price (Vanderbilt, Fr., Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and Joe Savery (Rice, Fr., Bellaire, Texas).

Position players selected to the 2005 USA Baseball National Team were catchers J.P. Arencibia (Tennessee, Fr., Miami, Fla.) and Jeroloman, infielders Adam Davis, Blake Davis (Cal State Fullerton, So., Fountain Valley, Calif.), Wes Hodges (Georgia Tech, So., Ooltewah, Tenn.), LaPorta and Josh Rodriguez (Rice, So., Houston, Texas); and outfielders John Jay (Miami (Fla.), So., Miami, Fla.), Hunter Mense (Missouri, So., Liberty, Mo.), Shane Robinson (Florida State, So., Tampa, Fla.) and Stubbs.

Two utility players made the squad: pitcher/first baseman/outfielder Sean Doolittle (Virginia, Fr., Tabernacle, N.J.) and pitcher/catcher/first baseman Matt Wieters (Georgia Tech, Fr., Goose Creek, S.C.). For a complete 22-man roster, log on to:

Team USA begins action on Saturday at 7 p.m. against the Torrington Twisters at Fuessenich Park in Torrington, Conn. After two more games against teams from the NECBL, Team USA travels to Japan to participate in the 34th annual USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series. The Americans will be looking to capture the series overseas for the first time since 1979. Team USA will also play a five-game series in Taiwan before returning to the United States for series against Italy and Nicaragua.

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