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.