ATHENS — Georgia baseball completed a much-needed — and historic — sweep over Florida on Sunday with a 4-1 win in the nightcap of a doubleheader.
“It’s big-time momentum,” said UGA coach Scott Stricklin, whose team is looking more and more like a College World Series contender.
Freshman pitcher Cole Wilcox (2-0) made his first SEC start one for the ages, throwing a complete game two-hitter, fanning seven and allowing just two hits, a walk and a run in the crucial 4-1 victory.
The Foley Field stands were full as the No. 8-ranked Bulldogs (37-12, 16-8 SEC) swept the Gators (28-20, 9-14) for the first time since 2006 and the first time in Athens since 1983.
“That’s hard to believe,” Stricklin said. “Florida has been so good, the last decade Florida has been the best team in college baseball …. they’re just young.”
Georgia won the first game on Sunday 9-1, clinching the first series win over Florida since 2013. Both games were shortened o seven innings on account of Saturday’s rainout.
Stricklin was impressed with young Wilcox, who has been showing signs of growth throughout the season.
“That was really good stuff, 83 pitches to throw a complete game against that offense, one of the best in the country,” Stricklin said. “I don’t think he threw a fastball under 94 mph, it was mostly 96, 97. The breaking ball he threw for a strike at will, he threw changeups to left-handed hitters, he was locked in, he was getting a whole lot of big league hitters out today, he was outstanding.”
Wilcox said the team was zeroed in on the sweep.
“Winning the first two was huge, but winning that third one is where Coach Stricklin always says ‘Good teams win two, but great teams win all three,’ so I knew we had to win the game.
“I just tried to compete with everything I had, throw a lot of strikes, and it worked out. Our defense made every play.”
Georgia entered Sunday’s action two games behind Vanderbilt in the SEC East Division and a game behind Arkansas for the No. 2 seed in the SEC Baseball Tournament.
“It’s great for us to be able to come here and play in front of our home crowd and back up what we did last weekend, which was stub our toes (at Mississippi State),” Stricklin said. “To bounce back and played the way we played was satisfying.”
The Bulldogs return to action at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Jacksonville State before taking a road trip to face Auburn next weekend.
Stricklin said ace pitcher Emerson Hancock will be back in action after missing the past two weekends with a strained lat muscle, and leading hitter and closer Aaron Schrunk will also be back in action against the Tigers.
Outfield Tucker Maxwell, who left Sunday’s action with a slight hamstring pull, is expected to return on Friday at Auburn, Stricklin said.
Pitcher C.J. Smith has a back issue and is not expected to return until the SEC Baseball Tournament, at the earliest.
Georgia baseball notes
• Junior shortstop Cam Shepherd hit two home runs in the opener, marking his third home run of the week and fourth this season. Shepherd is the first UGA player to hit two home runs in one game this season.
• Georgia’s five-run third inning in the opening win marked the 27thtime this season the Bulldogs have put up at least four runs in one inning.
• Sophomore third baseman Riley King hit two home runs on the day for his sixth and seventh of the year.
Georgia baseball coach Scott Stricklin
Georgia baseball pitcher Cole Wilcox