Florida Baseball Defeats Georgia Sunday, Sweeps Series

By Kevin Kelley -
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Georgia Bulldogs

Ninth-ranked Florida completed a sweep of visiting Georgia Sunday with a 10-3 victory at McKethan Stadium.

The Bulldogs (21-18-1, 7-10-1 SEC) claimed a 1-0 lead in the first courtesy of a two-out RBI single by junior shortstop Nelson Ward. With one out, junior left fielder Conor Welton notched his fourth hit of the series, advanced to second on a groundout by Hunter Cole to bring up Ward.

The Gators (27-13, 12-6 SEC) responded with three runs on three hits in the bottom of the frame off senior Patrick Boling. Centerfielder Harris Bader provided the go-ahead hit, a two-run triple, while a sacrifice fly by Branden Mattson accounted for the final run. In the second, Florida erupted for four runs on three hits to build a 7-1 advantage. After back-to-back walks to start the inning, Boling was lifted in favor of junior Ross Ripple. Richie Martin put a bunt down that Ripple misplayed trying to retire the runner at third and it loaded the bases. Two singles, a bunt and a sacrifice fly followed, and it was 7-1. Ward added another two-out RBI in the fifth to score Welton. Florida answered with a two-run home run from Casey Turgeon off Jarrett Brown to make it 9-2.  Georgia freshman Skyler Weber doubled and scored in the seventh, and the Gators got the run back in their half of the inning for a 10-3 final.

Florida left-hander Danny Young notched the win by going five innings to improve to 5-0. Boling dropped to 3-4 after surrendering five runs on three hits with three walks in one inning. Five Bulldog pitchers saw action Sunday. Georgia outhit the Gators 14-10 but hit into four double plays.

“The first two innings we give up seven runs and you can’t have a start like that against team like the one we were playing,” said Georgia coach Scott Stricklin. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a game where our guys in the number two through seven in the order get 11 hits and we only score three runs. That was frustrating. The four double plays hurt that we hit into, two were line outs and two were highlight reel plays for them. We swung it well and had some loud outs. It’s extremely disappointing to get swept, and now we have to bounce back on Tuesday.”

Georgia will be back in action Tuesday at 7 p.m. against Kennesaw State, and the game will be played at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, home of the Gwinnett Braves.

Game One: #9 Florida 3, Georgia 2

Georgia got a complete game from sophomore Ryan Lawlor, but a solo home run by freshman John Sternagel proved to be the difference as ninth-ranked Florida edged the Bulldogs 3-2.

Georgia struck first in the third inning off freshman right-hander Logan Shore. Junior Hunter Cole (2-for-4) delivered a two-out run-scoring single to bring sophomore Jess Posey home who drew a leadoff walk. Posey went to second on a base hit by freshman Skyler Weber and remained there until Cole came through. Georgia put the first two on to start the fourth as Nelson Ward (2-for-4) singled and Zack Bowers drew a walk. Then with two outs, Weber smacked an RBI-single to make it 2-0. Shore came in to the game with a 1.67 ERA. He was lifted after five innings as the Gators turned to left-hander Bobby Poyner, and he tossed the final four frames with a career-high seven strikeouts for his third save.

Down 2-0, the Gators tied the game in the fourth as Peter Alonso and Justin Shafer picked up RBI. In the fifth, Sternagel connected for his first home run to give Florida a 3-2 edge. It was the first home run that Lawlor had allowed this season, a span of 56.1 innings. Shore earned the win to improve his record to 4-2 while Lawlor, who pitched his second straight complete game, dropped to 3-3.

Game Two: #9 Florida 8, Georgia 1

Florida used an early six-run outburst to post an 8-1 win over Georgia to complete a doubleheader sweep Saturday.

The Gators struck for a pair of runs in the third, collecting three hits and were aided by a pair of wild pitches including one that scored the game’s first run. Coming in to the game, freshman right-hander Robert Tyler had two wild pitches on the year. Centerfielder Harrison Bader notched an RBI-single to make it 2-0.

Georgia loaded the bases to start the fourth as Conor Welton (3-for-4) smacked a double, Nelson Ward followed with a single and Daniel Nichols was hit by a pitch. Then, Zack Bowers struck out on three pitches. Freshman Skyler Weber battled back from a 0-2 count to register an RBI-fielder’s choice to make it 2-1, and that would be all the scoring for the Bulldogs as right-hander Aaron Rhodes maintained Florida’s edge by retiring Brandon Stephens. He went 5.1 innings to pick up a victory and move his record to 4-2.

The Gators extended their lead to 8-1 in the bottom of the fourth, scoring six runs on four hits. They chased Tyler, who allowed a career-high six runs on seven hits, and dropped to 4-3. He left with the game 3-1 and the bases loaded and nobody out. Georgia looked to junior Jared Cheek, and the Gators eventually sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning. Cheek pitched four innings and gave up two runs. Sophomore David Gonzalez took care of the final inning for the Bulldogs.

Georgia had one more chance to close the gap in the sixth, loading the bases with one out. However, Florida reliever Kirby Snead battled back to strike out Weber and pinch-hitter Heath Holder. Snead pitched 2.1 innings and Florida brought in Dean Dunning who went the rest of the way. The Bulldogs left 11 on base in the nightcap while the Gators made three errors.

Article courtesy of UGA Sports Communications

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