Georgia upsets No. 4 Florida
DeLoach, Palazzone lead Bulldogs past Gators
ATHENS, Ga. --- Brett DeLoach earned a shaving cream pie to the face during his ESPNU post-game interview after recording four RBI to lead Georgia to a 7-2 win against fourth-ranked Florida Saturday.
A season-high crowd of 3,011 saw Bulldog junior Michael Palazzone register his third win against a top 10 foe this year, tossing eight innings and allowing one run on six hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Palazzone’s 6-1 record this year now includes wins against No. 4 Florida, No. 5 Florida State and No. 9 LSU. On Saturday, he carried a shutout to the eighth before allowing a one-out, solo home run to Bryson Smith. It tied the game and then Georgia responded with a six-run outburst in the bottom of the frame.
Florida (27-9, 10-4 SEC) was the first to threaten with a runner in scoring position with just one out in the third. Palazzone snagged a comebacker up the middle to retire Nolan Fantana. Smith then lined a base hit into right field and Josh Adams tried to score from second, but a terrific throw by Kevin Ruiz beat Adams home, ending the inning.
Georgia (19-17, 9-5 SEC) got on the board first in the fourth inning. Third baseman Curt Powell reached on a leadoff walk and later scored on a sacrifice ground out by DeLoach (3-for-4, 4 RBI).
In the fifth, Palazzone surrendered his first walk in his last 38.2 innings pitched when Adams reached. It was just the fourth issued by Palazzone on the year, and the first since March 12 at Southern California when he led the Bulldogs to a 5-3 win. Georgia’s Jonathan Hester led off the fifth inning with his sixth double of the season; however, Brian Johnson struck out the next three batters to eliminate the threat and keep it 1-0.
Adams nearly tied the game in the seventh but left fielder Peter Verdin made a tremendous leaping play at the wall to bring the ball back but it bounced out of his glove and back on to the warning track, resulting in a two-out double. Palazzone battled back to strikeout Kamm Washington. After DeLoach singled to start the Bulldog seventh, Johnson was lifted in favor of Anthony DeScalfani.
In the bottom of the eighth, Levi Hyams reached on a walk and Powell collected a single. Junior shortstop Kyle Farmer put the Bulldogs in front 2-1 with an RBI-double to score Hyams. After an intentional walk to Zach Cone, Florida went to the bullpen again, calling on Tommy Toledo. DeLoach cleared the bases with his second career triple to make it 5-1.
Georgia’s eighth inning rally continued as Conor Welton singled in DeLoach to push the lead to 6-1. Later, Verdin drove in Welton with an RBI-single to cap the scoring.
DeSclafani got the loss to fall to 4-2 after allowing four runs in 1.1 innings. Florida tacked on its final with two outs in the ninth off of relief pitcher Blake Dieterich. Pinch hitter Tyler Palmer drove in Austin Maddox on a double into left center to make it 7-2.
“We needed this one today,” said Georgia head coach David Perno. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of Michael (Palazzone). He was really on his A game even though he had a few uncharacteristic walks. But he was really making great pitches all game long.
“I wasn’t comfortable with a 2-1 lead and Brett (DeLoach) really gave us that extra surge we needed,” Perno added. “He had a solid day at the plate and really gave us everything we needed.”
Junior Craig Gullickson (3-2, 5.86 ERA) takes the mound for the Bulldogs Sunday at 2:06 pm., as the Bulldogs go for another SEC series victory. Florida had won nine in a row over the Bulldogs until Saturday. Georgia last claimed a series over Florida in 2006 when they swept the Gators in Gainesville. The Gators will start freshman Karsten Whitson (4-0, 2.01 ERA) Sunday. The game will be televised by CSS.