April 15, 2011
ATHENS, Ga. --- Fourth-ranked Florida held off No. 28 Georgia 5-4 Friday to take game one of an SEC series in front of a crowd of 2,432 at Foley Field.
Florida (27-8, 10-3 SEC) got on the board first when Nolan Fontana scored from third on a one-out Preston Tucker single in the top of the first inning. Fontana had doubled with the help of a bad hop then advanced to third thanks to a passed ball.
Georgia starter Alex Wood and Florida's Hudson Randall tossed three scoreless innings until the Gators broke through in the top of the fifth with two runs and did the same in the sixth to build a 5-1 advantage. Austin Maddox (3-for-4, 2 RBI) delivered a bases-loaded single into center field, scoring Josh Adams and Preston Tucker to give the Gators a four-run cushion.
In the seventh, Georgia gained some ground, putting two runners across the plate to make it 5-3 and chase Randall. Brett DeLoach scored off of a Brandon Stephens (1-for-3, 1 RBI) blooper into right field, and Jonathan Hester reached home on Peter Verdin one-out pop fly to left that was dropped by Daniel Pigott. Hester had gotten aboard on a walk, only the second base on balls of the season for Randall, who left the game in the hands of Florida reliever Nick Maronde. Randall had not walked a batter in his last 36 innings. Randall picked up the win, finishing the game with three runs on six hits, one walk, and one strikeout to improve to 6-1.
Earl Daniels took over the mound for Wood, to start what would be a scoreless eighth. In seven innings, Wood, who got the loss to fall to 4-4, allowed five runs on 12 hits, recording five strikeouts and a walk. Daniels pitched 1.1 scoreless innings to give him a stretch of 5.1 scoreless innings pitched over his last three appearances.
Georgia was able to cut it to 5-4 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth off Maddox. Curt Powell smacked a one-out double and with two outs, he scored on a base hit by Verdin. Then, Florida looked to Steven Rodriguez who struck out Levi Hyams to record his second save of the year.
"We were right there," said Georgia coach David Perno. "We just needed a couple more hits. We've just got to keep putting ourselves in good positions, and some of these will go our way. I wanted us to play good baseball, and I thought we did tonight. We gave up a few to many two-strike hits and Florida scored when they had their chances. I am encouraged with what our bullpen did tonight and Alex gave us another good start and hung in there."
The series continues Saturday at Foley Field with first pitch slated for 5:03 p.m. as the game will be televised by ESPNU.