LaPorta hurt in UF loss


Published: Saturday, February 24, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, February 24, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

A slow start to the UF baseball team's season took a potentially gloomy turn, as senior first baseman Matt LaPorta injured his ankle in the bottom of the fifth inning of a 10-4 loss to the Kent State Golden Flashes on Friday night at McKethan Stadium.

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UF senior first baseman Matt LaPorta rolls on the ground in pain during the bottom of the fifth inning.

Photo by MORGAN PETROSKI/The Gainesville Sun

After two losses to in-state rivals, the Gators looked to a weekend series at home against winless Kent State to rectify the start to their

season.

What they got instead was another loss and another injury.

Earlier Friday, it was announced that junior third baseman Brandon McArthur is out for the season after opting to have surgery on his torn ulnar collateral ligament — an injury he suffered on opening night against VMI.

Friday, in the bottom of the fifth, a quiet sense of nervousness filled the stands as LaPorta pulled up lame after rounding second base and had to be helped off the field.

Florida coach Pat McMahon listed him as day-to-day and doubts he'll play in the Kent State series.

"We'll have to address it day-to-day and I'll find out more when I talk to some of the doctors," he said. "What did show me a lot about him is right after that, they put a boot on him and he was right back in the dugout cheering his teammates on."

Coupled with McArthur's injury, which ended an attempted comeback season, any injury to the Gators' leader in home runs and batting average is unwelcome news.

"He's a huge part of our team and a huge leader," shortstop Jon Townsend said. "Pretty much everybody here at the stadium held their breath. I can tell you one thing about Matt — that guy's going to hurry up to step back onto that field."

The Gators (4-5), who have lost three straight games, started this one quickly.

UF got a boost from a first-inning single by Clayton Pisani and took an early lead.

Then in the bottom of the fourth, the Gators added two more with a two-run single up the middle by catcher Cody Neer.

But junior ace Bryan Augenstein, who pitched two-hit ball the first four innings, ran into a dreadful fifth inning that saw him give up five runs off four hits.

The Golden Flashes (1-3) took a 6-3 lead and never let the Gators back into the game.

"One inning can kill you," Augenstein said. "You just have to make your pitches and battle through the errors.

"I'm just trying to go out and put my team in a position to win. That's all I can do."

In the bottom of the seventh, the Gators cut the deficit to two on a Townsend home run but were depleted in the eighth

and ninth innings.

The Golden Flashes took a 7-4 lead on a single to left field by Jared Bartholomew. In the ninth, they tacked on three runs on three errors and a wild pitch to pull away for good.

UF will now be looking for players to step up in place of LaPorta and McArthur.

"You know you're going to have gaps to fill when people go down because everybody has injuries," Townsend said. "But everybody's still positive.

"We have a very talented team and I'm not going to stop saying that no matter how we're doing."

The Gators will start Stephen Locke against Kent State's Dominique Rogers in today's game at 2 p.m.

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