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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Florida opens final home series with win over Georgia

The No. 9 Gators steal night one against the Bulldogs

Florida pitcher Jack Leftwich throws against Jacksonville on March 13. Leftwich closed out the Gators' Friday victory against Georgia.
Florida pitcher Jack Leftwich throws against Jacksonville on March 13. Leftwich closed out the Gators' Friday victory against Georgia.

With Jack Leftwich on the mound and Georgia second baseman Josh McAllister staring at a full count, the opening series between Florida and the Bulldogs came down to the final pitch.

In one final motion, the pitch whizzed by the powerful swing of McAllister to secure the win for Florida. The Gators’ dugout rushed their closing pitcher to celebrate a night one victory.

The No. 9 Florida Gators opened their three-game rivalry series against the Georgia Bulldogs with a 4-3 win to redeem an upset loss from Stetson Tuesday.

Right-hander Tommy Mace put on a pitching showcase Friday night in his twelfth start of the season to remain undefeated with six wins. 

The Bulldog batting order couldn’t handle the heat Mace offered as the Florica ace downed 10 Bulldogs by strikeout on the night. The junior’s night ended with a standing ovation from the Florida Ballpark crowd after he allowed three runs in 6.2 innings pitched.

Closing pitcher Jack Leftwich continued the pitching slaughter in the final two innings with five strikeouts of his own.

In the bottom of the eighth, Georgia catcher Fernando Gonzalez stepped up toward the mound to relay the game plan around his infield.

Whatever the game plan was, it wasn’t enough to contain a precision strike from freshman shortstop Josh Rivera.

The score had remained deadlocked at three apiece since the fifth inning before Rivera fought off nine pitches and ripped the line drive to left field to bring base runner Kris Armstrong home, the go-ahead run in the 11th hour.

First baseman Kendrick Calilao worked his way into the starting lineup last week and carried his momentum with him into the home series finale. In the bottom of the second, Calilao knocked a fastball deep over the center field wall for a 405-yard solo shot and the game’s first run. He added a single later in the fourth.

Despite the immediate advantage, Florida found themselves down a run in the fifth inning until left fielder Jacob Young stepped up and flew a ball towards the fence for an RBI double. While Georgia outfielder Riley King scrambled to gather the ball, which had already bounced off the fence, UF’s Cory Acton rounded his way home to even the score.

After a successful first night, the Gators and Bulldogs go right back into action on Saturday afternoon for the second meeting of the weekend. The first pitch from Florida Ballpark is set for 6:30 and will broadcast on the SEC Network. 

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