GAINESVILLE, FLA — Fourth-ranked Florida posted a 9-3 victory over Georgia Sunday at McKethan Stadium to complete a Southeastern Conference sweep.
The Gators (37-12, 20-7 SEC) went on top 2-0 in the third as Georgia avoided a big inning after the Gators loaded the bases with nobody out. Preston Tucker drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly.
Bulldog sophomore right hander Michael Palazzone battled back to strike out cleanup hitter Austin Maddox. Then with two outs, Daniel Pigott lined a 3-2 pitch past freshman Todd Hankins at third. On the play, Pigott tried to go to second and was thrown out by Zach Cone for his SEC-leading eighth assist of the year.
Georgia (14-36, 3-22 SEC) cut the deficit in half in the fourth. Cone reached with a one-out single. With two outs, Brett DeLoach was hit by a pitch and the Bulldogs executed a double steal.
Freshman Kevin Ruiz followed with a run-scoring single and DeLoach tried to score too but was thrown out by centerfielder Matt den Dekker to keep it 2-1. Georgia missed out on scoring opportunities in the fifth and sixth.
In the fifth, the Bulldogs had runners at the corners and one out when Hankins popped up a bunt attempt and sophomore Levi Hyams flew out to center.
In the sixth, Georgia wasted a leadoff double by Cone as Gator left-hander Brian Johnson struck out Kyle Farmer in a 10-pitch at bat and then retired DeLoach before giving way to Jeff Barefield. He took care of Ruiz with one pitch as he flew out to center.
Georgia went to the bullpen to start the sixth and the game unraveled as the Gators scored seven runs, all with two outs and were aided by six consecutive walks.
Sophomore Chase Hawkins came in for Palazzone (4-6) who had a solid outing, going five innings and allowing two runs on six hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Johnson (5-2) earned the win after giving the Gators 5 2/3 innings, surrendering one run on six hits.
After Hawkins, Malcolm Clapsaddle, Blake Dieterich, Cecil Tanner and Cooper Moseley made appearances in the sixth innings.
Hawkins got two outs and then Clapsaddle faced two batters and walked both including one with the bases loaded. Dieterich threw eight straight balls to force in two more runs as the Gators extended their lead to 5-1.
Tanner issued a bases-loaded walk on five pitches to Austin Maddox. On a 1-1 count, Tanner uncorked his 15th wild pitch of the season to score another run, and it was 7-1. He faced two batters and walked both and Georgia turned to Moseley with the bases loaded.
Bryson Smith lined a two-run single to cap the scoring and then Moseley got Jonathan Pigott to put an end to the outburst. The Gators scored seven runs on three hits. The Bulldogs scored two runs over the final two innings for the final.
“We played great for 26 of the 27 innings this weekend and that one inning got away from us today,” said Georgia coach David Perno. “I thought Michael kept us in it and pitched great. We’d like to get everybody going at the same time, but it’s still good to see everybody battling.”