Wilkinson leads No. 23 Georgia to 3-2 upset win against No. 2 Florida
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Chelsea Wilkinson led No. 23 Georgia to a 3-2 win against the second-ranked Florida Gators in the series opener on Friday. The win marks the fourth win against a ranked opponent in five games and allowed the Bulldogs to improve to 35-16 on the year and 12-7 in the Southeastern Conference. Florida dropped to 45-6 overall, including a 14-5 mark in the SEC.
Wilkinson struck out a career-best 14 batters on the way to the complete-game win that moved her to 6-3 on the year. She allowed just two runs on five hits in the complete-game performance. Hannah Rogers got the start for Florida and suffered the loss to fall to 25-4 on the year. She allowed three runs, two of which were earned, on five hits and two walks in seven innings of work.
Florida threatened early, putting a pair of runners in scoring position with no outs early in the first. Wilkinson settled in and struck out the next two batters before issuing a walk that loaded the bases with two away. Wilkinson then got the final batter swinging to end the inning and any threat of a Gator run.
Wilkinson pitched around a single in the top of the third before picking up her fourth and fifth strikeouts of the game, including an inning-ending strikeout of Kelsey Stewart. She continued to the deal for the Bulldogs, striking out the side in the bottom of the fourth to keep the Gators off the board.
After Tina Iosefa drew a leadoff walk and was pinch ran for by Maya Branch in the top of the fifth, Anna Swafford hit into a fielder's choice that put a runner on first for Katie Browne. With the hit-and-run on, Browne delivered a two-out double into the alley in right center that scored Swafford and gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.
Wilkinson picked up two more strikeouts in the bottom of the fifth inning, before tying her career-best with her 12th strikeout of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. After giving up a single to Stephanie Tofft, Wilkinson caught Taylor Schwarz looking before Browne threw to second to get Tofft for an inning-inning double play that allowed the Bulldogs to take a 1-0 lead into the seventh.
Georgia added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the seventh to extend its lead to 3-0. With two away, Swafford singled to right field to put a runner on for Browne. Browne followed with a double, but an errant throw by the center fielder to third allowed Swafford to score her second run of the game. Samantha LaZear drove in Browne with a chopper down the first base line that allowed Georgia to take a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh.
Down to its last three outs, Florida's Briana Little drew a leadoff walk before Wilkinson struck out Ensley Gammel for the first out of the inning. A hit by pitch and a bunt single loaded the bases with one out for the Gators. Merritt worked a 15-pitch at bat before drawing a walk that scored Florida's first run of the game and cut the lead to 3-1. Lauren Haeger, who had struck out three times, delivered a sacrifice fly to left that scored Bailey Castro and made it a 3-2 game. Kelsey Horton then hit a hard chopper down the left field line that was fielded cleanly by Swafford, who threw to Geri Ann Glasco at first for the final out of the game, sealing the 3-2 win against the Gators.