Georgia sweeps doubleheader, series from Florida

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Gators 0-3 vs. Bulldogs this weekend. [Cyndi Chambers/Correspondent/File]

Special to Gatorsports.com

ATHENS, Ga. — No. 9 Georgia used three home runs to pound Florida 9-1 in the first game of a doubleheader Sunday, then used the two-hit pitching of Cole Wilcox to win the second game 4-1 and sweep the series.

It’s the Bulldogs’ first series win over Florida in six years.

“Credit their pitchers,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Their first pitcher was really good, we had to earn everything we got today. He had pretty good command. We hit a lot of balls hard in the first game, just didn’t have much to show for it.

“In the second game, another really good arm. He was still hitting 96-97 there in the seventh inning. He had 25 walks in 34 innings coming in and only walked one today.

“I don’t think we quit, that we didn’t compete, it was just one of those games where he was just really good.”

Saturday’s scheduled game was postponed because of lightning and rain in the area, forcing two seven-inning games Sunday. Georgia won the first game Friday, 6-4.

Georgia (37-12, 16-8 SEC) took command of the day’s first game by scoring five runs in the third inning and sealed it with three in the 6th.

UF starter Jack Leftwich (4-5) struck out a career-high nine, but gave up eight runs and eight hits, including the three homers, in five innings.

Georgia pitcher Tim Elliott (6-3) went five winnings for the win, allowing three hits, a walk and an earned run. Ryan Webb closed it out with two innings of no-hit relief.

Cam Shepherd was 2-for-3 with three RBI, blasting two home runs to lead the Bulldogs’ attack. Riley King also went 2-for-3, including a home run.

The Gators (28-21, 9-15) managed only three hits, including Brady McConnell’s 11th home run of the season.

It was more of the same in Sunday’s second game. Georgia scored in the first inning on a King home run, scored twice in the third and one in the 6th. Wilcox (2-0) struck out seven and just walked one.

“Wilcox rose to the occasion and pitched really well in the second game,” O’Sullivan said.

McConnell hit his second home run of the day, his 12th, to account for the Gators’ run production over 14 innings. UF pitcher Nolan Crisp (3-2) picked up the loss.

Florida has lost all its SEC road series and was swept for the third time (at Vanderbilt and at Ole Miss earlier) to fall to 1-11 away from McKethan Stadium, where the Gators will play at 6 p.m. Tuesday against USF.

“The biggest thing is, we talked about it before SEC play even started, we’ve won one road game in the league – the Thursday night game at LSU,” O’Sullivan said. “We’ve got to avoid trying to get swept, we’ve got to win at least one on the road and we weren’t able to do that at Vanderbilt, Ole Miss or here. It’s one of the main reasons we’ve put ourselves in a tough position here.”

The Gators have serious work to do before the SEC tourney later this month if they want to return to the NCAA Tournament. They host Tennessee for a three-game set starting Friday, then close our the regular season at Missouri.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Fire Sully! Fire the assistants! Kick everyone off the team and recruit new players!! Of course, I kid. Sometimes you swing and a miss in recruiting pitchers, and Sully most certainly did that with the last couple classes. Huge shame that Tyler Dyson has regressed massively, but he also was a major part of winning a national title, so credit him for that. All that said, you’re just not gonna have 1st and 2nd rounders making up your entire weekend rotation on a regular basis, and we’ve been spoiled with that for 4-5 years now. The hitters are great against mediocre pitching, awful against good pitching, and there’s no in between. Just gonna take a few years experience, but I think this team will be a threat 2 years from now. Doubtful to make the tourney this year.

  2. As Gator baseball has regressed a bit since their CWS Championship a couple years back, the rest of the SEC has gotten stronger and deeper. Hopefully the move into the new baseball stadium in 2020 / 2021 will give a boost to recruiting and help UF stay in the the upper echelons of both the SEC and NCAA. One step I would love to see them take going forward is to place more emphasis on winning the mid-week schedule, especially against other Florida schools ( except FSU and UM, who the Gators have absolutely dominated in recent seasons!!) I know the argument about how the FAU, UCF, UNF, FGC and the rest tend to focus on their games vs. UF more and are more likely to throw their #1 pitchers in these games while UF usually likes to use their #4/5 starters and bullpen gang. All the more reason to try to recruit a deeper group of starters to help combat this. Certainly this has been an “off” year for both Gator baseball and softball teams, but both programs remain healthy enough with top coaches and upgraded facilities to return to their top tier status.