Gators sweep doubleheader to clinch against Bulldogs
Published: Saturday, April 19, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 19, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.
A six-run fourth inning in which No. 9 Florida sent 10 men to the plate broke open a tight game and the Gators went on to down Georgia, 8-1, and complete a doubleheader sweep Saturday of the Bulldogs at McKethan Stadium.
The Gators (26-13, 11-6), who had taken the opener, 3-2, have now won five straight and clinched the series with the Bulldogs (21-17-1, 7-9-1) heading into today's series finale at noon (ESPNU).
“It was a really good day for us,” UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. “Anytime you can win two games in one day against a really quality team, you've got to feel good about it.”
UF broke on top in the bottom of the third inning, combining three hits and a pair of wild pitches from Georgia starter Robert Tyler to plate two runs.
The Bulldogs loaded the bases with nobody out off Florida starter Aaron Rhodes in their next at-bat but only scored one run, and the Gators made them pay by combining four hits, two walks and a hit batsmen to take a commanding 8-1 lead against Tyler and reliever Jared Cheek in the bottom of the inning.
Rhodes (4-2), who scattered seven hits over 5 1/3 innings, got the win, with solid relief help from former Santa Fe High School standout Kirby Snead and fellow freshman Dane Dunning, who combined to throw 3 2/3 innings of two-hit, shutout relief.
Tyler (4-3) took the loss for Georgia.
Freshman John Sternagel's first home run, a solo shot over the left-field bleachers, broke a 2-all tie in the fifth inning and proved to be the difference in the first game.
“Obviously the first one is probably the best one,” Sternagel said. “But knowing that it actually had an impact on the game, giving us a little lead when we needed a little separation was awesome. It made it twice as good as a home run when you're up eight.”
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 2-0 lead with single runs in the third and fourth innings, getting two-out, RBI singles from Hunter Cole and Skyler Weber, respectively, but the Gators tied things up with a pair of runs on three hits in the fourth.
Taylor Gushue opened the inning with a double to left field, and Braden Mattson followed with a perfectly placed bunt to put runners on the corners with no one out. Freshman Peter Alonso's ground out to second scored Gushue and moved Mattson, who had stolen second, to third, where he scored the tying run on Justin Shafer's RBI single.
That was all the scoring for either team until Sternagel's game-winning blast.
“Obviously the first game was a little bit different than the second one,” O'Sullivan said. “It was one of those games that felt like it was going to come down to one run, one play or one pitch.”
Freshman starter Logan Shore (4-2) went five innings for UF, allowing six hits and two runs to earn the win before giving way to junior lefty Bobby Poyner, who tossed four innings of scoreless, two-hit relief and struck out a career-high seven batters in earning his third save of the year.
“I was really just happy I could keep the 3-2 lead and help get Logan a win,” Poyner said. “You never want to give up someone else's win.”
Despite scattering five hits in a complete-game effort and retiring the last 12 Gators he faced after allowing Sternagel's homer, Georgia starter Ryan Lawlor (3-3) was tagged with the loss.
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