Gainesville, Fla. - No. 3 Florida evened the series against Georgia with a thrilling 2-1 walk-off win in front of 7,632 fans at Condron Family Ballpark on Saturday night.
Center fielder Michael Robertson was the hero in Game Two of the closely contested series. The Venice, Fla. native produced the walk-off single for the Orange & Blue with one out in the ninth, allowing Cade Kurland to race home for the game-winning run.
Neither team managed a hit across the first four innings of play, as starting pitchers Hurston Waldrep and Charlie Goldstein engaged in a pitchers' duel. Waldrep registered six strikeouts across his first four frames, walking just two and retiring seven straight entering the fifth.
The Bulldogs (19-16, 4-10 SEC) notched their first hit in the form of a Parks Harber double in the fifth. Georgia then pushed a run across to break the deadlock, using a sacrifice bunt from Sebastian Murillo to plate Harber and open a 1-0 lead.
After Waldrep rebounded to produce a zero in the sixth, the Gators (29-7, 10-4 SEC) broke into the scoring column. Josh Rivera and BT Riopelle opened the bottom half with back-to-back doubles into the left-center and right-center field gaps, respectively.
Waldrep worked a clean seventh while notching his eighth strikeout before turning the game over to Ryan Slater in the top of the eighth. Slater worked a one-two-three frame, striking out Ben Anderson to hold the score at one run apiece.
Slater stranded a two-out double in the ninth to turn the game over to the Gator offense. Florida quickly put ducks on the pond, with Kurland drawing a leadoff walk followed by a Colby Halter double.
With one out and an 0-2 count, Robertson barreled the ball to right-center field, scoring Kurland from third and giving the Gators a 2-1 walk-off victory.
Slater (5-0) earned the win, providing two shutout innings of relief on one hit while striking out two. Bulldogs reliever Chandler Marsh (1-2) was hung with the loss, surrendering the lone earned run in the ninth on two hits and one walk. He struck out one.
Waldrep received a no-decision, pitching seven innings of one-run ball on three hits and three walks. He struck out eight.
Georgia starting pitcher Charlie Goldstein was also handed a no-decision after allowing one earned run on two hits and three walks in five frames. The southpaw fanned seven.
- The Gators won in comeback fashion for the 15th time this season - more than half of the team's 29 wins.
- Florida produced its second walk-off win of the season and first vs. Georgia since May 11, 2018.
- Both starting pitchers took no-hitters into the fifth inning and loss their bids on fifth-inning doubles. Waldrep struck out eight or more batters for the sixth time this season.
- Rivera extended his team-leading hitting streak to nine games.
- Riopelle extended his team-high on-base streak to 16 games. Halter's on-base streak reached 15 games while Langford's was snapped at 12.
- Florida has struck out double-digit batters in 25 of 36 games. Florida has struck out 392 batters in 311 1/3 innings - translating to 11.3 per nine innings.
- Through 36 games, Florida has a run differential of plus-145. The Gators have scored in 139 of 288 batted innings this season (48.3%).
- The Gators have 384 hits through 36 games (10.7 hits/game).
- Florida improved to 192-115-2 all-time against Georgia including 100-44-1 at home.
- The Gators are 29-17 vs. the Bulldogs under Head Coach Kevin O'Sullivan, featuring a 17-6 mark in Gainesville.
FROM HEAD COACH KEVIN O'SULLIVAN
On the pitching... "Hurston was really good again. I thought Brandon [Sproat] threw the ball really well last night, good enough to give us a chance to win. Slater was really good again after Tuesday night against Florida State. Got into a situation where they had the go-ahead run at the plate there. He had a good little adversity to deal with. But, credit Goldstein, he threw really good as well. That's two weekends in a row. He beat Kentucky last weekend. Obviously, kept us off balance today. We just had that one inning where I think the turning point was probably getting the double play."
On bouncing back... "Cade [Kurland] drawing the four-pitch walk there and then Colby coming up with a really big at bat there. We went to Richie [Schiekofer] because it was just for contact, obviously he got on top of the ball. Michael 0-2 count, two-strike count, put a really good swing on one. That's just baseball. Last night, we scored a bunch of runs. I don't know how many exactly, I think it was 26 runs or something like that, and the next night you're playing a 2-1 ball game. Pleased with how we responded because this is not exactly how you drew it up. Obviously, after last night it was just so difficult, but they hung in there. We played really good defense as well."
On Heyman playing first base... "We spoke about that last night. I didn't really make a decision on it, honestly, until I got to the ballpark and talked to the staff. We felt like he would be able to handle it. He had more chances tonight than I thought he would because they only have three left-handed hitters in the lineup, but there were a couple of balls of right-handed bats that kind of had a weird, odd spin. He played good tonight. He played good at first."
FROM OUTFIELDER MICHAEL ROBERTSON
On his walk-off hit... "I knew I hit it good. At that point, I pretty much in my head, whether they caught it or not, I think it was going to be deep enough to get the job done. Pretty much right off the bat I was in celebration mode. My guys did a good job of getting on base in front of me and I got a good pitch to hit and squared it up."
Florida and Georgia meet in the rubber match on Sunday at 1 p.m. with coverage on SEC Network+. Jac Caglianone (3-1) takes the ball for the Gators while Liam Sullivan (4-1) toes the rubber for the Bulldogs.