Fueled by a dominant offensive performance and solid bullpen work, the Georgia Bulldogs whipped Florida 9-2 on Senior Day to claim an SEC series.
Georgia (21-32, 7-20 SEC) had five players with multi-hit outings as the team went a collective 14-for-38 at the plate with six extra base hits including three home runs. The Bulldogs won a series over the Gators for the first time since 2006 when they swept them in Gainesville.
“We won two series this week that haven’t gone our way in a while so you can see how the guys hung in there and battled,” said Georgia coach David Perno. “The week started at Tech and we get down 7-0 and come back to win that. Then we drop the opener here on Thursday and bounce back to take the series. Our guys found a way, and while we lose a few seniors, there’s a good team coming back plus a few talented juniors that were on IR — injured reserve — all year that have been starters their whole career in outfielder Conor Welton and catcher Brandon Stephens and starting pitcher/closer Pete Nagel. Today was a special day to honor our seniors including Johnathan Taylor and Chance Veazey. They have meant a lot to the program and this is a special group that has been through a lot of adversity in their career.”
Florida (29-27, 14-16 SEC) had four pitchers give up at least one run, with starter Eric Hanhold (0-4) making his exit after just two innings. The Gators could only manage to get two across the plate, stranding nine runners on base as Georgia’s bullpen held strong. Jarrett Brown, Ross Ripple and Mike Mancuso combined for five scoreless innings after Jared Walsh left the game, with Ripple improving to 3-1 for the season.
The Bulldogs built an early lead with a three-run second inning made possible by four consecutive one-out hits. Heath Holder singled and Justin Bryan (2-4, 3 RBI) drove him in with a double that landed just inside the left field line. Nelson Ward then flared one into right to score Bryan and made it around the bases thanks to another double, this time from Curt Powell.
The Gators fired right back, though, taking advantage of a leadoff walk and two wild pitches from Jared Walsh to notch a pair of runs and cut it to 3-2 in the top of the third.
Georgia effectively erased that effort in the fourth, extending its lead back to three runs. Bryan led off with an opposite field home run, and Kyle Farmer (3-5, RBI) dropped a blooper into shallow center to plate Powell from second base, which he had stolen during Ward’s at-bat.
The Bulldogs broke it open two innings later with an offensive burst that included back-to-back homers from Walsh and Brett DeLoach as part of another set of four consecutive Georgia hits. Farmer led off with an infield single and reached home on Walsh’s blast. Daniel Nichols followed DeLoach with a double and advanced on two subsequent groundouts to put the tally at 9-2.
Farmer’s single marked his 264th career base hit, putting him at fifth all time in Georgia history, ahead of current Chicago White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham. His RBI in the fourth inning put him at fifth in that category, as well, tied at 168 with Jeff Keppinger, who is also on the White Sox roster. Farmer concludes his career with the highest fielding percentage by a Bulldog shortstop at .979. Also, he broke his own record for best fielding percentage in a season at .978. Also, Ward set the mark for a second baseman by fielding .987.
Georgia ends the season having won three of their four final games and claiming series over rivals Georgia Tech and Florida this past week.
All photos copyrighted property of Sonny Kennedy, http://www.sonnykennedyphotography.com/