Rogers blanks Bulldogs to take series
Published: Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 5:29 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 5:29 p.m.
Junior All-American Hannah Rogers tossed a complete-game, two-hit shutout and Florida scored four times in the first three innings as the No. 2 Gators captured the rubber game of a three-game Southeastern Conference series with a 5-0 win over No. 23 Georgia Sunday.
Florida at South Carolina, Friday, 6 p.m.
RADIO: 104.9 FM
With the win before a Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium crowd of 1,725, UF improved to 47-6 overall and 16-5 in SEC play, while the Bulldogs fell to 35-18, 12-9.
Despite issuing a season-high seven walks, Rogers was only in trouble once, that coming in the fourth when the Bulldogs had the bases loaded with two outs.
But the right-hander from Lake Wales retired pinch-hitter Christine Olney on a sharp grounder to first to end the threat and went on earn the win, improving to 26-4 in the circle while throwing her second complete game of the weekend and 20th of the year.
“She pitched great,” UF head coach Tim Walton said. “It is what it is; you just go out there and compete. We turned two double plays for her, and she just found a way. Some of the walks were two-out walks pitching to somebody and then she got the next out. I thought she did a really good job of utilizing our defense and really just competing for us.”
Facing Georgia freshman Chelsea Wilkinson, who tossed a complete-game win and struck out a career-high 14 batters in the Bulldog's 3-2 victory in Friday's series opener, the Gators were much more patient in dealing with the off-speed specialist.
UF loaded the bases with two outs in the first inning and got a break when a routine grounder off the bat of freshman Taylor Schwarz got through the legs of Georgia third baseman Anna Swafford, allowing a pair of runs to score to stake Rogers to a 2-0 lead.
“I think we had a much better plan with our expectations and just understanding exactly what we were up against,” Walton said. “Obviously we caught a break in the first inning. It changes the way you swing the bat being ahead rather than down or even, but again, we put the ball in play to get the break, and I think that was the key there.”
UF doubled the lead in the third. Sophomore Lauren Haeger and senior Kelsey Horton hit back-to-back singles with two outs, and Schwarz delivered a two-run triple down the right field line to make it 4-0.
“Before the game, Coach Walton dared us to get jammed because we were so far ahead of this pitcher (Friday),” Schwarz said. “So I moved up in the box and was like, ‘Alright, I'm going to try and get jammed and I did, and it happened to hit the line, so that was big.”
Wilkinson (6-4), who suffered the loss, was able to get a strikeout to end the inning but was replaced by Morgan Montemayor to start the fourth.
Haeger, who was 3-for-3 at the plate, led off the fifth inning with her team-leading 16th home run of the year to cap the scoring.
The Gators, who are in contention for their first SEC title since 2009, close out their regular season this weekend with three games at South Carolina. No. 3 Tennessee (42-7, 15-4), which leads UF by mere percentage points in the SEC East and overall races, travels to No. 11 Missouri, while No. 12 LSU (40-11, 15-6), which locked up the SEC West by sweeping defending NCAA champ Alabama, finishes up at Georgia.
“When you don't have control of your own destiny, you just go out there and try to win the next game,” Walton said. “For us, it's just about continuing to get better and keep competing.”