Following one of his worst outings of the season, Jonathon Crawford found his command again.
Florida (29-25, 14-14 Southeastern Conference) got a strong rebound performance from its No. 1 starter en route to a 4-2 victory against Georgia (19-32, 5-20 SEC) in Athens, Ga., on Thursday night at Foley Field.
“I thought Jonathon was outstanding tonight,” coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I think that’s probably the best he’s thrown all year long.
Last Friday in the Gators’ 7-4 loss to Auburn, Crawford gave up four runs, six hits, walked three and lasted just four innings in his shortest start since going 3.2 innings in the season opener against Duke.
The junior right-hander allowed just one earned run in 6.2 innings while striking out five Bulldogs on Thursday.
“He threw low strikes,” O’Sullivan said. “He threw all three pitches for strikes.”
Crawford retired eight consecutive batters from the fourth to the seventh inning until giving up a one-out single to center to shortstop Kyle Farmer. After a groundout, Farmer advanced to second and then scored on a single to center from catcher Brett DeLoach to tie the game at 2.
Daniel Gibson replaced Crawford after a Jess Posey single moved DeLoach over to second. First baseman Daniel Nichols then hit a ground ball up the middle off of Posey that shortstop Cody Dent dove to stop and flipped the ball to second to get Posey on the force out and end the inning.
Ryan Harris and Johnny Magliozzi came out of the bullpen to throw scoreless eighth and ninth innings for Florida.
In the top of the ninth, the Gators retook the lead against reliever Patrick Boling as first baseman Vickash Ramjit singled and advanced to third as Josh Tobias followed him with a single to right. Center fielder Harrison Bader then put Florida ahead 3-2 with a single to center to score Ramjit.
“I was pleased with how we battled,” O’Sullivan said of his team grinding out runs. “We faced two really good pitchers. We faced a senior in [UGA starter Blake Dieterich] who’s been a pitcher in this league obviously for four years. And Boling is a redshirt junior. Both of those pitchers have good arms.”
Freshman designated hitter Brady Roberson moved Tobias and Bader to second to third with a sacrifice bunt, and Tobias scored two at-bats later on a balk from Boling.
“The balk there in the ninth with Boling was probably huge,” O’Sullivan said. “Gave us a little bit of a cushion. Especially when you’re on the road. You know, a one-run lead on the road is a lot different than a one-run lead at home.”
The Gators head to Hoover, Ala., next week for the SEC Tournament. In his lone appearance in last year’s conference tournament, Crawford struck out nine Auburn players in 5.2 innings, giving up a run on two hits. O’Sullivan was glad to see Crawford in similar form for his last regular season outing.
“It’s a really good sign for him moving forward,” O’Sullivan said. “Really good angle to his stuff… Moving forward into the tournament next week, I really really feel good about how we threw tonight.
A radio broadcast contributed to this report.
Contact Josh Jurnovoy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Junior Jonathon Crawford pitches during Florida’s 11-5 loss to Kentucky on March 16 at McKethan Stadium. Crawford allowed just one run in 6.2 innings Thursday against the Bulldogs.