Georgia Gets to the Gators' Bullpen

The Gators tied the game on a Bryson Smith home run in the eighth inning and had all the momentum, but the bullpen lost the game when the Bulldogs came to the plate. The relief pitchers gave up six runs in the eighth inning to secure the Bulldogs' 7-2 win over No. 4 Florida Saturday at Foley Field. It was Georgia's first win over the Gators in the last ten games.

"They broke it open their in the eighth, but I thought it was a lot closer than that," Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said on his post game radio show. "We've just got to pitch a little better in that situation."

Anthony DeSclafani relieved Brian Johnson in the seventh inning and worked out of trouble without giving up a run. He remained in during the eighth inning, but the results weren't anywhere close to the same.

After a one-out walk, DeSclafani (4-2) allowed a single and an RBI double by Kyle Farmer made it 2-1 Georgia. The Gators elected to intentionally walk Zack Cone to load the bases with one out, and O'Sullivan gave the ball to Tommy Toledo, hoping for a double play to end the inning.

Instead, Toledo didn't have his best stuff. He was up in the strike zone, allowing a three-run triple to Brett DeLoach to give Georgia a 5-1 lead. Conor Welton and Peter Verdin would add RBI singles before Toledo was lifted for freshman left-hander Daniel Gibson, who got a ground ball to end the inning.

"We just didn't pitch very well in the eighth, and that's the bottom line," O'Sullivan said.

The eighth inning couldn't have ended differently from what it looked like during the top half. Smith lined a one-out home run to left field to tie the score at one and bring all the momentum into the Florida dugout. Smith started the game in center field after being suspended when he was arrested for DUI. He hadn't played in a game since March 13 against Rhode Island.

"He was outstanding. He played good defense and had some real quality at-bats," O'Sullivan said. "He struck out the first time up, but after that, he put together some real quality at-bats and stung the ball. It's good to have him back."

Georgia right-hander Michael Palazzone (6-1) kept the Florida offense off balance all afternoon. He went eight innings, allowing only one run on six hits and two walks. He also recorded six strikeouts. It was a performance similar to what the Gators have gotten out of starting pitcher Hudson Randall all year. Like Randall, Palazzone located his off-speed pitches and didn't record many strikeouts until late. He forced the Florida hitters to put the ball in play and get themselves out.

Florida starting pitcher Brian Johnson lasted six innings, giving up six hits, one run and recording four strikeouts.

"Palazzone did an outstanding job, but Johnson matched him pitch for pitch," O'Sullivan said.

Zack Powers hurt his knee on Friday night, and O'Sullivan isn't sure what the injury is but said that the freshman will be out "for a little while." That forced the Gators to play Austin Maddox at third base and Preston Tucker at first base.

The teams will face off Sunday at 2 p.m. in the rubber match of the series. Florida will start freshman right-hander Karsten Whitson (4-1, 2.01) against Georgia left-hander Craig Gullickson (3-2, 5.86).

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