Special to Gatorsports.com
ATHENS, Ga., — No. 9 Georgia held on for a 6-4 SEC baseball win over Florida on Friday night in the series opener.
The Bulldogs (35-12, 14-8 SEC) took advantage of an off night from Gators Tommy Mace (7-4), knocking him from the game in the fourth inning after he walked seven batters and allowed four runs.
Tucker Maxwell led off the bottom of the first with a solo home run and then Mace walked the bases loaded. A RBI groundout made it 2-0, but Mace escaped without further damage.
“It seems like the same thing over and over,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We started the game on an 0-2 count, run the count to full and Maxwell runs into a ball and puts them up a run. We threw 35+ pitches in the first inning and were fortunate to get out with only two runs given up.
“Once again, we walked I think eight guys and hit two more. The one inning we gave up three runs, we started with a walk to the nine-hole hitter hitting .240.”
The Gators (28-19, 9-13) cut the deficit to one in the second. Brady Smith and Wil Dalton started the rally with back-to-back singles and Smith scored when Cory Acton reached on an error.
Georgia extended the lead and knocked Mace from the game with three runs in the fourth inning. The Bulldogs tacked on one more in the sixth for a 6-1 lead.
The Gators mounted a rally in the seventh, starting the inning with a hit batter and walk as UGA went to the bullpen. A RBI double from Cory Acton brought in one run and a RBI groundout from Brady McConnell cut the Bulldogs lead to 6-3.
Florida managed to get the tying run to the plate in the eighth inning but couldn’t get anything across. In the ninth, the Gators scraped across one run when Jacob Young singled and came around to score on a wild pitch.
“It’s just unfortunate,” O’Sullivan said. “Offensively, I think we were good tonight. We had the tying run at the plate in the eighth and ninth, we only made one error. That’s the most surprising thing. We continue to play good defense despite being out there for a fairly long time in a lot of the innings.
“We’re going to continue to work and hope to get over the hump here. Any time we go on the road and practice on Thursday night, the pitchers throw off the mound and get used to the surroundings, so I’m not sure what happened tonight. We just walked too many guys. We’ve given up a lot of runs on not a lot of hits. Six runs on seven hits tonight; when you give them 10 free baserunners that makes it difficult.”
The teams are scheduled to meet again Saturday at 2 p.m. The game will stream live on SEC Network+.
Who: Florida vs. No. 9 Georgia
When: 2 p.m.
Where: Foley Field, Athens, Ga.
Radio: AM-850, 98.1-FM
Online: SEC Network+
Sunday’s game: 12:30 p.m., ESPN2