Haeger's homer helps UF top rival on Senior Day
Published: Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 6:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 6:19 p.m.
One Haeger bomb was all the Florida Gators needed.
Who: No. 23 Georgia (36-16, 12-8 SEC) at No. 2 Florida (46-6, 15-5)
When: Sunday at noon
Where: Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium
Gainesville-area TV: CST (Cox Channel 259)
Gainesville-area radio: 104.9 FM
Sophomore Lauren Haeger erased a 2-0 Georgia lead with one swing of her bat and did the rest on the mound with a complete-game victory as No. 2 Florida (46-6, 15-5) evened its final home Southeastern Conference series of the year with a 5-2 win before a Senior Day crowd of 2,232 on Saturday at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
Haeger launched her team-leading 15th home run of the year on a 3-2 pitch from Bulldogs starter Geri Ann Glasco with two runners on and nobody out in the bottom of the fourth inning to give UF its first lead of the game.
“On a 3-2 pitch, I knew they didn't want to walk me to make the bases loaded, so I was like ‘she's coming, she's coming at me,' and I knew it was going to be inside because she'd been throwing inside the whole game,” Haeger said. “I just wanted to get my foot down and be on time.”
Freshman Kirsti Merritt started the inning with a lead-off walk, and junior Stephanie Tofft followed with a sharp single to right. Haeger then launched her no-doubter into the tree tops behind the left-field fence, jump-starting the UF offense and ending the day for Glasco (17-7), who took the loss.
UF added another run off reliever Morgan Montemayor before the inning was over on senior Ensley Gammel's two-out, RBI double, then capped the scoring with a single run in the fifth on Tofft's RBI single.
“Any team you play in our league and from here on out in postseason play, it's not going to be about the number of hits you get,” UF head coach Tim Walton said. “It's about being able to get good hits with runners in scoring position. Obviously Lauren came up big for us.”
The Bulldogs (36-16, 12-8), who won Friday's series opener 3-2, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the second on Tess Sito's two-run double that scored Kaylee Puailoa, who had singled, and Anna Swafford, who was hit by a pitch.
But Haeger, who allowed just five hits and posted nine strikeouts, rebounded to retire the next 10 batters in a row and was never again in trouble until the seventh, when the Bulldogs threatened to rally on Puailoa's lead-off single and a one-out double by Sito that put runners on second and third and brought the tying run to the plate.
Haeger (13-2), however, would have none of it, striking out Katie Browne looking before getting pinch-hitter Christine Olney on a swinging third strike to end the game.
“I was really proud of her being able to throw a complete game and get a complete-game victory,” Walton said. “That's huge for not only her and her confidence, but for our team and our pitching staff.”
Tofft and Haeger each went 2-for-3 at the plate to lead UF, while Sito and Puailoa were 2-for-3 for Georgia.
Picking up a win on such an emotional day was special for both UF seniors, Gammel and Kelsey Horton, who were honored in a pregame ceremony.
“It was really fun,” Gammel said. “It was nice to see everyone out here supporting Kelsey and me, and it really meant a lot. It was kind of sentimental, obviously, but it's been a really fun four years, and I am so excited for this team and the future that they have.”
Added Horton: “I'm just really happy that we came out and bounced back. I had an exam this morning, so it's been a crazy day. I've been a little bit anxious, but once I got here and saw my teammates and the field and everything, I was ready to go.”
The two teams will square off in the rubber game of the series Sunday at noon in UF's regular-season home finale.