HOOVER, Ala. -In all likelihood, Georgia has clinched an NCAA Regional bid with its 4-3 win over third-ranked Florida Saturday in the SEC Tournament at Regions Park.
The Bulldogs (31-29), who have played the nation's toughest rated schedule and own an RPI of No. 16, have won three in a row here to assure it will finish the tournament with the NCAA required record above .500.
After falling to third-ranked Vanderbilt 10-0 on Wednesday where they managed just one hit, the Bulldogs have won three straight elimination games, beating Auburn, top-ranked South Carolina and now the Gators.
USC, Florida and the Commodores shared this season's SEC title.
In Game 1 Saturday, Georgia (31-29) went on top 2-0 in the first with a two-out rally.
Junior second baseman Levi Hyams led off the game with a base hit and then Florida left-hander Brian Johnson came back to strikeout centerfielder Conor Welton and shortstop Kyle Farmer.
Junior left fielder Zach Cone laced a run-scoring triple. It was his second this year and 11th of his career. Cone scored on a throwing error by Johnson as he tried to retire designated hitter Brett DeLoach.
On a 2-2 count to Jonathan Hester, Johnson bounced one in the dirt and Hester started towards second base. Catcher Mike Zunino's throw hit a kneeling Johnson in the side of the head as DeLoach took third.
Johnson was forced to leave the game on a stretcher, and Florida brought in Anthony DeSclafani who recorded the final out.
FLORIDA 3, GEORGIA 2: Third-ranked Florida advanced to the SEC Tournament Championship game with a win over Georgia Saturday at Regions Park.
The Bulldogs (31-30) forced an elimination game after beating the Gators 4-3 earlier Saturday. The Gators (44-16) will face Vanderbilt in Sunday's final. Georgia goes 3-2 in the tournament and finishes third.
In Game 2, Georgia grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first as second baseman Levi Hyams led off with a double, went to third on a bounce out by center fielder Lance Martin and scored on a base hit by shortstop Kyle Farmer.
In the second, Florida freshman right-hander Karsten Whitson experienced some control issues. He walked three in the inning and then a wild pitch allowed Georgia to go up 2-0.
The Gators responded in the third, tying the game courtesy of a two-run home run from shortstop Nolan Fontana. It was his fourth of the year and came off Bulldog starter Patrick Boling.
Later in the inning with two more Gators on and two out, Georgia brought in senior right-hander John Herman, and he got the final out.
Herman ended up tossing a career-high 3 1/3 scoreless innings as the game remained tied at 2-2 heading to the bottom of the sixth.
Following a one-out single in the sixth by Bulldog left fielder Peter Verdin, Florida went to its bullpen, bringing in left-hander Nick Maronde for Whitson.
Whitson allowed two runs on five hits with three walks and three strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. Both teams' bullpens kept it a tie game going to the ninth.