Georgia freshman Sean McLaughlin pitched a gem in front of a season high crowd of 3,016 as the Bulldogs registered a 3-1 win over Florida Friday.
McLaughlin (5-6) came out on top in a pitching duel, tossing seven strong innings including five straight scoreless innings, striking out four, and only giving up one run on four hits. With the victory, Georgia has a chance to win its first series over the Gators since 2006 when it swept Florida in Gainesville. Florida (29-26, 14-15 SEC) took a lead in the second inning. Jordan Shafer, who led off with a walk, was driven in by a ground-rule double by Josh Tobias.
Georgia (20-32, 6-20 SEC) quieted the Gators’ bats thanks to some great defense and a composed McLaughlin who settled down to pitch four consecutive scoreless innings and only giving up three hits. Florida carried a 1-0 lead through five innings.
The Bulldogs rallied in the sixth. Heath Holder reached with a lead-off walk. DJ Smith reached first on an error advancing Holder to second. Nelson Ward advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt. Curt Powell reached base compliments of another error in the field scoring Holder. Hunter Cole smacked a single to right field scoring Smith from third. Daniel Nichols later singled and scored Powell to cap the three-run outburst. That would mark all the scoring on the night.
The Gators used three pitchers to get through the sixth inning. Florida starter Bobby Poyner lasted 5.1 innings, striking out three, and only allowing two hits but was charged with both runs in the inning. He got the loss to fall to 3-3.
Georgia got stellar relief from freshman Mike Mancuso and junior Dylan Cole. Mancuso tossed a scoreless eighth while Cole was called on in the ninth and retired the batters in order to earn his fourth save of the season.
“It’s important to finish strong, and the team showed that tonight,” said Georgia coach David Perno. “We won the Tech series earlier this week and now we have an opportunity to win an SEC series over Florida and we haven’t done that in a long time. I’m proud of Sean and the way he performed plus solid relief pitching, and we got some key performances from a lot of guys that are going to be back next season. Everybody has hung in there because tonight they were playing for pride.”
The series concludes Saturday at Foley Field with the first pitch slated for 2:08 p.m., and the Bulldogs will recognize their seven seniors starting at 1:40 p.m.
All photos copyrighted property of Sonny Kennedy, http://www.sonnykennedyphotography.com/