Georgia hands No. 5 FSU first loss
Palazzone's strong start leads Bulldogs to upset
ATHENS, Ga. --- Bulldog starter Michael Palazzone allowed one run through seven innings to lead Georgia to a 2-1 victory against fifth-ranked Florida State in front of 2,205 at Foley Field on Saturday.
The Bulldogs (3-7) handed the Seminoles their first loss of the season as they dropped to 9-1 and did so in dramatic fashion over the final two frames. FSU left the bases loaded in the eighth and had two on in the ninth but the Georgia bullpen blanked the Seminoles for the second straight day. On Friday, they tossed 4.1 shutout innings and pitched two more Saturday.
Florida State jumped on the board in the top of the second on a solo homerun to right field by catcher Parker Brunelle. Brunelle and centerfielder Mike McGee accounted for four of the Seminoles seven hits on the day as Palazzone was able to keep the potent Florida State lineup in check as they entered the day batting .337. Palazzone tied his career-high by going seven innings and evened his record to 1-1. He scattered five hits with no walks and five strikeouts.
Georgia tied the game in the fifth off FSU starter Brian Busch. Curt Powell led off with a base hit and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Peter Verdin. With two outs, Levi Hyams laced a run-scoring double to right to tie the contest. Busch gave way to right-hander Mack Waugh in the sixth. Busch allowed one run on six hits, with one walk and two strikeouts over five innings of work. Waugh was able to strand Bulldog runners on first and third to end the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, Verdin brought the crowd to their feet with a leadoff-triple down the left field line. A sacrifice fly by Johnathan Taylor gave the Bulldogs their first lead and what would be the game-winning run. Waugh was lifted for left-hander Tye Buckley who retired the two batters he faced to end the inning. Waugh got the loss to fall to 0-1.
"We had baserunners on a lot and had more opportunities for the big hit," said Georgia head coach David Perno. "It was nice to see Levi, Verdin and Powell step up with big hits for us. Our middle of the order really had a tough time, but the rest of our guys stepped up and gave us some great at-bats and timely hits."
Palazonne turned the ball over to sophomore left-hander Patrick Boling in the eighth. He walked shortstop Justin Gonzalez and allowed a single to second baseman Devon Travis (2-for-5) to put the tying and go-ahead runs on base for Florida State. A passed ball by defensive replacement Brandon Stephens moved both runners into scoring position. The sophomore struck out Sherman Johnson before intentionally walking McGee (3-for-3, walk). Boling then struck out FSU's number four and five hitters in James Ramsey and Jayce Boyd to escape the jam unscathed.
"We hung in there and I can't say enough about Michael (Palazzone) and Patrick (Boling)," said Perno. "It was an unusual eighth. To do what he did after we had second and third with nobody out was really a fantastic job by him. He gets all three punch outs and was able to get out of the jam. I was very pleased with the way we pitched, and we really did a great job."
Boling returned to the mound in the ninth and immediately allowed a single to pinch-hitter Rafael Lopez. He recovered to retire the next batter, before walking pinch-hitter Stephen McGee to move the tying-run into scoring position. Bulldog closer Tyler Maloof replaced Boling after the walk and struck out the final two batters he faced to close the door on the Seminoles and collect his third save.
Georgia will have an opportunity to win the series on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Foley Field. Left-hander Craig Gullickson (0-1, 11.57 ERA) will make his second start for the Bulldogs while Florida State will send sophomore right-hander Scott Sitz (2-0, 0.82 ERA) to the mound. Live stats will be available on georgiadogs.com.