Georgia evens series with No. 4 Florida baseball, 7-2

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia (19-17/9-5 SEC) snapped a 1-1 tie with a six-run eighth inning to square its weekend series with a 7-2 victory over No. 4 Florida (27-9/10-4 SEC) on Saturday in front of 3,011 fans at Foley Field. Junior right-hander Michael Palazzone (6-1) allowed one run on six hits and had six strikeouts over eight innings to register the victory, sophomore Kyle Farmer (2-for-4) had the go-ahead RBI double and sophomore Brett DeLoach (3-for-4) had a three-run triple as the Bulldogs ended a nine-game losing skid to the Gators dating back to a 7-4 decision on April 25, 2008.

With UGA holding a 1-0 lead, senior Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.) (2-for-4) tied the game in the eighth with a one-out homer into the trees overlooking left field. It was his first round-tripper of the season and first since April 24, 2010, versus Arkansas.

The Bulldogs exploded for six runs on five hits and an error in the home part of the inning to take a commanding 7-1 lead. Junior Anthony Desclafani (Freehold, N.J.) (4-2) issued a one-out walk to junior Levi Hyams and sophomore Curt Powell (1-for-3, two runs) sliced a single into left field for two runners aboard. Farmer stroked a double into left field to score Hyams with the go-ahead run and junior Zach Cone was walked intentionally to load the bases with one down. Junior Tommy Toledo (Tampa, Fla.) replaced DeSclafani (1.1 IP, 3 H, 4 R) and surrendered a bases-clearing triple to DeLoach that boosted the Bulldogs’ lead to 5-1. Freshman Conor Welton delivered an RBI single into center field that scored DeLoach and junior Jonathan Hester (2-for-4) reached on an error by senior second baseman Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) for a pair of runners on base. After Toledo (0.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R) had freshman Brandon Stephens fly out, junior Peter Verdin stroked a single into left field that plated Welton for a six-run margin.

The Gators used a two-out, pinch-hit double by freshman Tyler Palmer (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) in the ninth off sophomore reliever Blake Dieterich to finalize the 7-2 margin. Sophomore Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) had singled with one down and Adams (3-for-3) collected a two-out single before Palmer had his first career double into left field for his first hit and first RBI in SEC action.

Florida’s bid to open the scoring in the third was denied when Adams was thrown out at the plate on a two-out single into right field by Smith. Adams had opened the inning with a single into left field and was sacrificed to second on a bunt by sophomore Kamm Washington (Boynton Beach, Fla.). Palazzone had sophomore Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) ground out and Smith followed with a hard single into right field. Redshirt sophomore Kevin Ruiz fired a bullet to freshman catcher Joey Delmonico and Adams was tagged out to end the frame.

Delmonico started the home part of the inning with a single into left center and sophomore Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) had Verdin fly out before having Hyams ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Georgia used an RBI grounder by DeLoach in the fourth to take a 1-0 lead. Powell walked on four pitches to start the stanza and the Bulldogs executed a hit-and-run on an infield hit by Farmer for two runners aboard and none out. Cone laid down a sacrifice to push both of his teammates into scoring position and DeLoach hit a ground ball that Fontana made a diving stop on which brought across Powell with the first run of the contest.

Adams drew a two-out walk from Palazzone in the fifth, ending a stretch of 38.2 innings in which the righty had not permitted a base on balls. Washington roped a single into right field that moved Adams to third and Fontana earned a free pass to load the bases with two down. Palazzone kept the Bulldogs ahead by having Smith line out to left field.

Hester began the home part of the inning with a double off the wall in right field and Johnson answered with three-straight strikeouts of Delmonico, Verdin and Hyams to hold the Gators’ deficit at a run.

Palazzone retired six consecutive Gators before Adams sent a fly ball to deep left field with two down in the seventh that Verdin prevented from being a game-tying homer with a leaping attempt. The ball bounced off the top of his glove and resulted in Adams’ seventh double of the season. Palazzone struck out Washington to close the frame.

DeLoach led off UGA’s seventh at bat with a single into left field, prompting a pitching change. Over six-plus innings, Johnson scattered six hits, allowed one run, totaled four strikeouts and had one walk. DeSclafani had pinch hitter Welton hit into a double play before yielding a single to center by Hester. The righty had a fielder’s choice by Delmonico force Hester at second base to end the inning.

The Eastern Division rivals will wrap up the series tomorrow with the rubber game of the series at 2 p.m., when freshman righty Karsten Whitson (Chipley, Fla.) (4-0, 2.01) will oppose redshirt junior left-hander Craig Gullickson (3-2, 5.86). The game will be televised by CSS and air on Channel 199 on the Cox Communications’ cable system in Gainesville and Ocala.

Game Notes

· UF head coach Kevin O’Sullivan is now 9-2 against Georgia.

· The Bulldogs snapped a nine-game losing streak to UF at Foley Field dating back to a 5-2 win on April 8, 2005.

· The Gators turned a season-high three double plays.

· The trio of Tyler Thompson (left field), Preston Tucker (first base) and Kamm Washington (right field) each made his first start of the season at the positions listed in parentheses.

· Brian Johnson extended his hitting streak to nine games with a second-inning single. His career high of 11 games was set between May 20, 2010 and Feb. 19, 2011.