Georgia (18-10, 4-4 SEC) has won back-to-back games in Gainesville for the first time since 1955. Also, the Bulldogs clinched a series here for the first time since 1987 when back then they won two out of three getting a home run in the series finale from All-SEC standout Donn Perno, the older brother of current head coach David Perno. On Saturday, the Bulldogs built an 8-0 lead by the fourth inning and held off a furious Gator rally over the final five frames. Junior Sean Ruthven moved to 3-0 pitching the first 5.2 innings while the bullpen trio of Josh McLaughlin, Bo Lanier and Will Startup combined to preserve the victory. Startup notched his second save of the series and fifth overall, pitching the final 1.2 innings. The Gators drop to 25-7 overall, 5-3 in the SEC. Georgia struck first in the top of the second courtesy of a run-scoring single by Josh Smith (2-for-3, 2 RBI) and an RBI-groundout by Clint Sammons. Ruthven cruised through the first four innings, allowing just one hit and recording five strikeouts. The Bulldogs broke the game open with a six runs in the fourth, chasing Florida starter Bryan Ball who fell to 5-1 on the year after allowing seven runs on seven hits through 3.2 innings. After a one-out walk to Kyle Keen, Joey Side executed a hit and run to move Keen to third. Smith followed with another run-scoring single. After retiring Sammons, senior Justin Holmes launced a three-run shot over the left field wall for a 6-0 advantage. Ball walked the next two Bulldogs and then freshman Josh Morris smacked a two-run double down the left field line to make it 8-0 and ending Ball's outing. From there, Florida's combination of Adam Sanabria and Darren O'Day blanked the Bulldogs while the Gators started to creep back.
"We gained some confidence after Friday night's win because coming down here we didn't have a lot," said Georgia coach David Perno. "We got another quality start, got some key hits and that's been huge for us. We're doing all the things we did earlier in the year when we had success and what we haven't been doing recently until this series."
Florida got on the board with a solo home run by C.J. Smith, his 10th of the year to start the fifth. The Gators got two more in the sixth as Ruthven was lifted in favor of McLaughlin. He faced just five batters and four reached with two scoring so the Bulldogs looked to Lanier. Justin Tordi led off the bottom of the seventh with a solo home run to make it 8-4 and a two-out RBI-single by Ben Harrison made it 8-5. Lanier got the first out in the eighth but left with two on and Georgia turned again to Startup. He struck out Brian Jeroloman and got Jonathan Tucker to ground out to end the eighth which was the last serious threat.
"Our bullpen hung in there today and Will was outstanding again," said Perno. "We knew Florida was not out of it after we got the big lead because it was real early and there was a lot of baseball left to play."
Georgia aims for its first-ever three-game sweep here Sunday. The Bulldogs will start senior right-hander Matt Woods (1-0, 4.96) while the Gators counter with junior right-hander Tommy Boss (2-0, 5.06). First pitch is slated for 1 p.m.
Georgia Clinches Series with 8-5 Win Over Florida
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