Different sport. Same result.
In the Gators’ last SEC series before the big matchup with Vanderbilt coming up later this week, Florida overcame a sub-par pitching performance in the first game to beat the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens in the final two games, 3-2 and 7-4, to claim the series. Florida has now won 22 of the last 28 games against Georgia in baseball, a stat that looks quite cozy next to numbers like 21 of the last 26 (basketball) and 19 of the last 25 (football) that Florida holds over their rivals to the north.
At first, though, it didn’t look like Florida would be doing too much bragging.
The Gators looked… well, BAD all around in the first game. I’m not quite sure if it had something to do with the fact that Georgia is unranked and the team got cocky, or if the Sunday to Friday layoff got them rusty or what, but the performance on the field was not that of a team ranked 8th in the nation, that’s for sure. The pitching performance by starter Logan Shore was not up to his usual standards, to say the least, as he allowed five hits and five runs before the coaching staff yanked him. Unfortunately, the bullpen fared no better, as the final score was 11-1, with the Bulldogs racking up a total of fourteen hits on a Gator pitching staff that gave up less than six and a half hits per game up until that point. Making things worse, the Gators’ bats went cold, mustering all of four hits on that miserable night. It was simply a bad game for Florida all around, so let’s move away from that and start talking about the good things that happened this weekend. Like the next two games.
The Gators turned the series around in the second game, fending off Georgia in the ninth inning for a 3-2 win. The pitching was more of what we are used to seeing from the Florida squad, with AJ Puk starting and only giving up two hits in his 99 pitches. And the Gators’ offense, while still not as explosive as we’d like to see it be, was clutch. On two separate occasions, Florida was batting with two outs and a runner in scoring position; on both of those occasions, the hitter did his job and drove in the runner with RBI single. The first time, it was Mike Rivera, and the second time, it was Jeremy Vasquez- and that turned out to be the game winner.
The final game of the series was more of what we like to see from the top-ten ranked Florida baseball team, finishing off the Bulldogs with a 7-4 win in Athens. The Gators were tied 4-4 with Georgia after the fourth, and it looked like we would be in for an entertaining finish. Then along came Ryan Larson, who shot a lightning bolt into the gap for a double, clearing the previously loaded bases in the 6th; that gave Florida the 7-4 lead they held onto to clinch the series.
Up next for the Gators is a midweek game against a USF team they blew out a few months ago, followed by a trip to Nashville for a series against SEC East leading Vanderbilt. This series is crucial for the Gators, as the Commodores are only two games ahead of Florida for the lead in the East. Depending on the outcome of the series, Florida could either be right back in the mix for the SEC regular season championship or out of it, so for those of you who like to count rings… yeah, this is a big one. Florida’s got to get a better effort out of Logan Shore if they want to win this series, but if they do, they should be in as good of shape as you could ask a team to be.