Tuesday, May 2, 2017

UF Baseball: No. 8 Florida vs Georgia Series Recap

The No. 8 Florida Gators (30-13, 13-8 SEC) earned their second SEC sweep of 2017 after defeating the Georgia Bulldogs (17-28, 5-16 SEC) this week in Athens. Here is a recap of each game!

Game 1 (April 28th)
The No. 8 Florida Gators (28-13, 11-8 SEC) won the series opener over the Georgia Bulldogs (17-26, 5-14 SEC) by a score of 6-4 with their second ninth-inning comeback of the year.

Junior ace Alex Faedo (6-1, 2.63 ERA) had a decent outing in his fourth road start of the year. He allowed three earned runs on six hits, struck out seven, and walked two in 6.1 innings. When Faedo departed with one out in the seventh, Florida held a 3-1 lead with runners on second and third.

In for relief was junior left-hander Nick Horvath. After recording a groundout that plated a run, Horvath served up a two-out double that tied the game. That was all Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan needed to see, as he pulled Horvath for true freshman Garrett Milchin.

The right-hander would surrender the lead on a hit to center field. The run would be charged to Horvath. After a fairly clean eighth from Milchin, the Gators used a ninth inning rally to grab a 6-4 lead and set the stage for sophomore closer Michael Byrne.

Working past a leadoff walk, Byrne sandwiched a strikeout in-between two fly outs to complete the comeback and notch his ninth save of the season. In the process, Milchin was awarded win No. 4 on both the year and his career.

The Gator offense banged out 12 hits while scoring in the second, third, and ninth to down the Dawgs tonight. Before highlighting the offensive dignitaries, here's the rundown of Florida's very patient ninth inning comeback:

Ninth Inning
Down 4-3, the top of the Gator lineup was due to bat. Deacon Liput led off the inning with a strikeout. Dalton Guthrie singled to put the tying run on base. Austin Langworthy then walked. After a pitching change, Ryan Larson flied out but was able to advance Guthrie to third. Nelson Maldonaldo then walked to load the bases.

With JJ Schwarz up to bat with two outs, a ball got away from reliever Justin Glover and allowed Dalt to scamper home and score the game-tying run. Langworthy and Nelly also moved up to 90 feet to put runners on second and third. JJ then walked.

Christian Hicks came up and then he too drew a walk to plate the go-ahead run. Mark Kolozsvary was next, and he drew the fourth consecutive walk of the inning to make it 6-4 Florida. With the bases still loaded, Keenan Bell came up and struck out to end the rally. All in all, the Gators used five total walks (including four straight) to grab the late lead and eventual win over Georgia.

Offensive Performers
Three Gators had multi-hit games tonight. Sophomore second baseman Deacon Liput went 2-4 with a walk out of the leadoff spot. Behind him in the two-hole, junior shortstop Dalton Guthrie went 2-5 with a run scored. Rounding out the trio, junior third baseman Christian Hicks went 3-4 with a double, two RBI's, a run scored, a walk, and a stolen base.

Among those with one hit, sophomore right fielder Nelson Maldonaldo scored two runs while going 1-4 with a stolen base, junior first baseman JJ Schwarz drew a game-high two walks and stole a bag as well in a 1-3 night, and sophomore designated hitter Blake Reese plated two in the first inning on a 1-3 performance.

Final Takeaway
The Florida Gators yet again showed their resiliency with another late-inning comeback. To do it on the road nonetheless makes it even more impressive. Before recapping Game 2, here are my final tidbits on the series opening victory:

  • Florida is 4-2 in SEC series openers this year.
  • The Gators have now won three straight games over the Bulldogs as well as three straight in Athens!
  • Christian Hicks's double was his sixth of the year.
  • Austin Langworthy got down his first collegiate sacrifice bunt in the fourth inning of this game.
  • Langworthy also stole his fifth base of the season tonight.
  • Speaking of stolen bases, Christian Hicks stole his fifth, while both Nelson Maldonaldo and JJ Schwarz swiped their third bags of the season.
  • This is Alex Faedo's fifth no-decision of the season.
  • This was Liput's ninth, Guthrie's 14th, and Hicks's 11th multi-hit games of the year,
  • Georgia's top hitters in this game were leadoff man Tucker Bradley (3-5 with a double, a run scored, and an RBI) and eight-hole Will Proctor (2-3 with a double, a run scored, and an RBI).
  • 2,126 fans were in attendance for the game.

Game 2 (April 29th)
The No. 8 Florida Gators (29-13, 12-8 SEC) secured their fourth consecutive series win over the Georgia Bulldogs (17-27, 5-15 SEC) with a 6-3 win.

Sophomore right-hander Brady Singer (5-3, 2.09 ERA) was sensational. Throwing at least eight innings for the fourth time this season, Singer allowed three earned runs on 10 hits while striking out five. He walked one and hit a batter as well on a 109-pitch day.

When Singer was removed heading into the bottom of the ninth, Florida had a comfortable 6-3 lead. On for the second straight day, Michael Byrne got two quick outs and worked past two straight hits to induce the game ending foul out. It was Byrne's 10th save of the year and gave Brady win No. 5.

Florida banged out 10 hits while scoring once in the third inning and five times in the seventh to grab the lead for good. Before highlighting the individual Gator offensive performances, here is a look at how that seventh inning unfolded.

Seventh Inning
Down 3-1, Florida had the bottom three of the order up. Christian Hicks kicked things off by getting hit by a pitch on a 1-2 count. Keenan Bell then singled and both he and Hicks advanced on a wild pitch. Mark Kolozsvary then walked to load the bases.

After a pitching change, it was back to the top of the order. Deacon Liput singled to plate Hicks and cut the deficit to 3-2. Dalton Guthrie then hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Bell and tie the game at 3-3. With one out now, Austin Langworthy came up and smacked a single to send Kolo home and give Florida a 4-3 lead.

Nelson Maldonaldo then strode to the plate and hit a sacrifice fly that scored Liput and made it 5-3 Gators. For the final run, JJ Schwarz had a two-out knock up the middle to bring Langworthy around and up the lead to 6-3. A Ryan Larson groundout would end the inning, but Florida had again used a late-inning rally to seize a lead that would inevitably hold.

Offensive Performers
Only two Gators had multiple hits in this game. Out of the three-hole, center fielder Austin Langworthy tied his career-high for hits in a single game with a 3-4 day. He had a double, scored, drove in a run, and stole his sixth base of the year.

Fellow outfielder Ryan Larson joined Langworthy as Florida's other multi-hit culprit on the afternoon. He went 2-4 with his fifth stolen base of the season.

Among those with one hit, Deacon Liput scored twice, drove in a run, walked, and stole his team-leading 11th base on a 1-4 day. Mark Kolozsvary also had Florida's only other extra-base hit with a double in the fifth inning. He finished 1-3 with a run scored and a walk.

Final Takeaway
With their third straight SEC series in the bag, the Gators set their eyes on just their second conference sweep of 2017. Before recapping how that was attained in the finale, here are my final tidbits on Game 2:

  • Florida has now won four straight over Georgia.
  • Austin Langworthy's double was his fifth of the season, while Kolo's was his fourth.
  • Dalton Guthrie's sacrifice fly was his fourth of the year while Nelly's was his third.
  • This is Langworthy's fourth multi-hit game of the year and Larson's eighth.
  • Georgia's top hitters were Tucker Bradley (3-5 with two doubles), Cam Shepherd (2-5), and Mitchell Webb (2-4 with a double and an RBI).
  • Keegan McGovern drew Georgia's only walk of the game in the second inning.
  • Foley Field was nearly filled to capacity (3,291) as 3,082 fans showed out for this game.

*All stats accredited to FloridaGators.com

Game 3 (April 30th)
In the series finale, the No. 8 Florida Gators (30-13, 13-8 SEC) secured their sweep over the Georgia Bulldogs (17-28, 5-16 SEC) with a 4-3 victory.

Tying his longest outing of the season, sophomore right-hander Jackson Kowar (7-0, 3.90 ERA) delivered seven strong innings for Florida. In those frames, he allowed three earned runs on six hits with six strikeouts. He walked three and hit a batter as well.

After the first three Georgia hitters reached base and the lead was cut to 4-2, Kowar was removed with no outs. He finished with 78 pitches thrown and left a runner on second base for the bullpen to deal with. The first arm out of the pen was Garrett Milchin.

The freshman obtained the first out of the inning via pop out. He then threw a wild pitch that allowed the runner to reach third and walked a batter. He would then be pulled for Nick Horvath, who got the second out on a full count strikeout.

After Horvath completed his job as the lefty specialist, it was now on to Michael Byrne for the four-out save. He gave up a single that cut the lead to 4-3 and put the tying run on second base. However, Byrne settled in and induced a line out to end the inning.

In the ninth, Georgia got the tying run on base after the leadoff man popped up. He would never reach second though, as a fielder's choice and fly out to right field would end the game and give Florida the sweep. It was Byrne's third consecutive save and 11th of the year. With his outing, Jackson Kowar upped his record to a perfect 7-0 on the year.

The Gators had nine hits as a team and scored sporadically as they put up two in the second, and one in the fourth and sixth innings.

Like yesterday, two Gators again had multiple hits in the game. In the clean-up spot, Nelson Maldonaldo went 2-3 with two runs scored and a walk. Right behind him, JJ Schwarz had a day as he went 3-4 with a home run, a run scored, two RBI's, and his fourth stolen base of the season. Schwarz's bomb was a two-run shot that kicked off the second inning and was his sixth of the year.

The other four Gators with hits were Deacon Liput (1-5), Dalton Guthrie (1-4 with a walk), Ryan Larson (1-4 with a run scored and a walk), and Keenan Bell (1-2).

Final Takeaway
The sweep over Georgia now puts No. 8 Florida just one game out of first place in the SEC East. On a four-game winning streak now, the Gators will have a jam-packed week before clashing with Ole Miss () at the Mac. Before previewing the week ahead though, here are my final tidbits on the series finale and the series as a whole:

  • Florida has now won five straight over Georgia.
  • This is the ninth time in Sully's ten years that Florida has taken the series over Georgia.
  • This is the fourth time in five trips to Athens that Florida has left with the series victory.
  • This is the fourth time that Florida has swept Georgia in Sully's tenure.
  • In the Kevin O'Sullivan era, the Gators are 23-7 against the Dawgs in the regular season.
  • This was Nelly's 10th multi-hit game of the year and JJ's ninth.
  • Christian Hicks's sacrifice bunt in the fourth inning was his team-leading fifth of the year.
  • Hicks also stole his sixth bag of the year in this contest.
  • Mark Kolozsvary's sacrifice fly in the fourth inning was his first of the season.
  • Georgia made two total errors in the series while Florida had their first errorless SEC series of the season.
  • Georgia's leading hitters were Mitchell Webb (2-4 with an RBI) and Austin Biggar (2-3 with a run scored).
  • With this sweep, Florida has won 30 games for the ninth time in the Kevin O'Sullivan era.
  • Georgia did not have much fan support in this one, as only 1,945 fans showed up for the finale.

*All stats accredited to FloridaGators.com

Looking Ahead
With a successful road trip in the books, the now No. 7 ranked Florida Gators (30-13, 13-8 SEC) will be at the Mac for all five of their games this week. They will square off with the Florida A&M Rattlers (23-19) on Tuesday before meeting up with the Jacksonville Dolphins (25-17) on Wednesday. Both games are scheduled for 6:30 p.m, can be seen on SEC Network+, and heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network.

For their weekend series, the Gators will square off with the Ole Miss Rebels (27-17, 11-10 SEC) in their first meeting since 2015 in Oxford. The Rebels have not been to the Mac since 2013, which resulted in a series win for Florida. As a whole, Ole Miss taken four of the last seven series against Florida since Kevin O'Sullivan took over in 2008.

With a 2-4 record against the SEC West, Florida will need another crucial series win to stay neck-and-neck with the now No. 5 ranked Kentucky Wildcats (31-14, 14-7 SEC) for the East. They will trot out Alex Faedo for the Friday night start, Brady Singer for Saturday night, and Jackson Kowar to bring it all home on Sunday afternoon.

Ole Miss will most likely counter with junior left-hander David Parkinson (5-2, 3.43 ERA), sophomore right-hander James McArthur (3-3, 3.08 ERA), and freshman right-hander Will Ethridge (1-2, 2.25 ERA) in some fashion over the weekend.

Both the Friday and Saturday games are set for 6:30 p.m. with the Sunday game scheduled for 2 p.m. All but the Sunday game can be seen on SEC Network+ with the finale being telecasted on the actual SEC Network. All three games can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network.

As for Georgia (17-28, 5-16 SEC), they will again be tasked with a rough weekend as they head into Lexington to take on another great SEC foe in the No. 5 Kentucky Wildcats.



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