Friday night surprise: Gators win 4-3 vs. AL

Center fielder Gavin Dickey hit a solo home run and a triple, shortstop Adam Davis added three hits, and Matt LaPorta walked five times to lead Florida to a 4-3 victory over Alabama at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa. The win marked the first Friday night celebration since the Gators 6-3 win over Arkansas on the opening weekend of conference play back on March 17th.

The Gators (26-25, 8-17) pounded out eleven hits off Alabama pitchers Bernard Robert and Jordan Davis. Alabama skipper Jim Wells opted not to start ace Wade LeBlanc tonight. Most impressively, Florida scored early with runs in the first, second, and third innings.

Davis led off the game with a single that bounced up the middle. Two batters later, Robert walked LaPorta on a 3-1 pitch. LaPorta later scored the first run of the game on Austin Pride's single down the left field line.

LaPorta's five walks tied a Florida record that was set by Brad Wilkerson in 1996.

Dickey led off the top of the second with a solo shot to left center to give the Gators a 2-0 lead.

Pride led off the top of the third with a walk after working Robert to a full count. He stole second and scored on right fielder Brian Leclerc's single down the right field line.

Florida picked up the all important insurance run in the top of the sixth. Second baseman Brandon McArthur led off the inning with a single. He scored when third baseman David cash grounded out to second. Florida led 4-0.

The Gators tried to extend their lead in the ninth. Dickey bounced a ball off the wall and rounded third, but was thrown out at the plate. He and Alabama catcher Kody Valverde exchanged pleasantries, which resulted in the emptying of both benches.

Dickey, Bryson Barber, and Chris Petrie were ejected from the game for Florida. Meanwhile, the umpires tossed Valverde, Josh Copeland and starting pitcher Bernard Robert of Alabama.

Florida starter Bryan Augenstein (9-5) pitched 8.1 strong innings. He held the Crimson Tide to three hits through the first five innings of the game. Trailing 4-0, Bama rallied in bottom of the sixth for three runs. However, Augenstein regained control in the seventh and gave way to David Hurst and Darren O'Day who closed things out on the home team for the final two outs in the ninth.

Things weren't all positive for the Gators as they left 13 men on base in the game. Regardless, picking up their second Friday night conference win in nine tries is as positive as it gets for a struggling ball club that was expected to contend for another conference championship.

Florida is expected to throw right hander Bryan Ball (4-8) tomorrow against LeBlanc (7-0). A series win would also be the first since the Arkansas series.

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