Florida Claims SEC Series With 6-3 Win
GAINESVILLE, FLA.-----Daniel Pigott's three-run home run led top-ranked Florida to a 6-3 win over Georgia Sunday in front of 4,492 fans at McKethan Stadium.
Florida (31-9, 11-7 SEC) took a 1-0 lead on a leadoff solo home run by catcher Mike Zunino in the second. It was his 11th of the year and came off freshman right-hander Luke Crumley who was making his first career start. Georgia (24-17, 8-10 SEC) put runners at the corners with one out in the third, but Hudson Randall got out of the jam by getting Kyle Farmer to ground in to a double play. Georgia claimed a 2-1 advantage in the fourth courtesy of three doubles. Back-to-back doubles by Brett DeLoach and Levi Hyams tied the contest and then with one out, senior Colby May lined an RBI-double to score Hyams. The Gators lifted Randall after DeLoach's two-bagger and then went to Daniel Gibson. Following May's extra base hit, Florida looked to Greg Larson who put an end to the rally. Crumley gave the Bulldogs three solid innings before a leadoff walk in the fourth ended his afternoon. Georgia brought in redshirt freshman Jay Swinford to face Zunino. He got the All-America catcher to bounce in to a double play. However, Brian Johnson followed with a single and scored on Pigott's RBI-double to tie the contest through four frames.
In the sixth, Georgia used a two-out rally to reclaim a 3-2 lead. Freshman pinch-hitter Justin Bryan reached with a base hit, took second on a bounce out and scored on a two-out single by catcher Brandon Stephens. That ended Larson's day as the Gators turned to Karsten Whitson who kept it a one-run contest. Georgia brought in junior Bryan Benzor to start the sixth. Swinford provided the Bulldogs with two innings and allowed one run on two hits. Justin Shafer led off with a base hit and then tied the game with an RBI-double from Preston Tucker. Zunino was next with a single and then Johnson put down a sacrifice bunt before Pigott smashed a three-run home run to make it 6-3. Whitson got the win to improve to 2-0 while Benzor dropped to 4-2. Chase Hawkins, Jarrett Brown, Ross Ripple and Earl Daniels, Georgia's last four pitchers on the day, combined to throw 2.2 scoreless innings. Georgia has yet to win the final game of an SEC series this year, falling to 0-6 with Sunday's defeat. Austin Maddox pitched the ninth for his SEC-leading 11th save.
"We had dodged the big inning for 31 innings in this series considering being on the road and their lineup, but it showed up today and was the difference," said Georgia coach David Perno. "I was pleased with most of what Luke did in his first start, just lower the walks, but he gave us a good early lift. Most of the bullpen did okay, and we missed some opportunities offensively. Overall, this was the best defensive series I've seen as both teams made some excellent plays."
Georgia returns to action Tuesday in Atlanta at Turner Field against Georgia Tech in the annual Kaufmann Tire Spring Baseball Classic for Kids. All ticket proceeds benefit Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. First pitch will be at 7:05 p.m. ET. The Bulldogs won the first meeting this year in Athens 7-1. The Yellow Jackets are 24-17 (9-12 ACC) and coming off a road series win over No. 6 North Carolina.
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