GAINESVILLE, FLA. - Senior right-hander Michael Palazzone led Georgia to a 5-3 win over top-ranked Florida Saturday in front of 4,458 fans at McKethan Stadium.
The Bulldogs (24-16, 8-9) bounced back from Friday's 16-inning heartbreaking defeat to even the SEC series with the Gators who fell to 30-9 overall and 10-7 SEC. Palazzone (2-5) moved in to a tie for ninth place in school history by notching his 19th career win. He went eight innings and allowed three runs on six hits with one walk and six strikeouts.
"We showed some real grit and toughness that you have to have to do something late in the season," said Georgia coach David Perno. "We rallied and found a way to win. Michael (Palazzone) was outstanding in giving us another fine start; the defense was solid too, and we had some good at bats. That's what it's going to take, and I was pleased to see that after such a tough loss Friday."
The Bulldogs struck for a run in the first off left-hander Brian Johnson. Sophomore Conor Welton lined a one-out single to left. Shortstop Kyle Farmer collected his SEC-leading 16th double to bring in Welton and then took third on an error by centerfielder Daniel Pigott. Florida brought the infield in and Johnson got designated hitter Brett DeLoach to bounce out to short to keep Farmer at third. Then, senior Levi Hyams smacked one that appeared to be headed to centerfield but freshman second baseman Casey Turgeon displayed great range and made a strong throw to retire Hyams and keep it 1-0. The lead was short-lived. With two outs in the bottom of the first, catcher Mike Zunino drew a walk and then right fielder Preston Tucker smashed a two-run blast, his 10th of the year, to put the Gators in front 2-1.
Georgia reclaimed a 4-2 advantage in the third with a two-out rally, scoring three runs on four hits. A fielder's choice gave Farmer his second RBI while Hyams added a two-run single to cap the outburst. Florida cut it to 4-3 in the fourth on a solo home run by Pigott, his fourth of the year.
Johnson (5-2) gave the Gators seven innings in the loss, allowing four runs on seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts . Florida turned to Johnny Magliozzi to start the eighth. In the ninth, pinch-hitter Nelson Ward reached on a two-out single. Then, junior Curt Powell made it 5-3 with an RBI-double. Four of Georgia's five runs on the night came with two outs.
In the ninth, Georgia looked to junior closer Blake Dieterich and he registered his seventh save with a perfect frame.
The start of Saturday's game was delayed one hour by rain. The series concludes Sunday at 3:05 p.m., and the game will be televised live by ESPN2. Georgia will start freshman right-hander Luke Crumley (1-2, 4.66 ERA). He has made 16 relief appearances and this will be his first career start.