BASEBALL: Diamond Dawgs come up short, fall to Florida 5-3 in exhibition play

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BASEBALL: Diamond Dawgs come up short, fall to Florida 5-3 in exhibition play

Diamond Dawgs center fielder Randon Jernigan (4) during an exhibition game with Florida on Friday, November 1, 2019, at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville
Diamond Dawgs center fielder Randon Jernigan (4) during an exhibition game with Florida on Friday, November 1, 2019, at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville

The Diamond Dawgs fell to the Florida Gators 5-3 in a 9-inning exhibition baseball game at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville on Friday, November 1st on a cloudy, cool evening. The exhibition contest featured a 10-batter lineup and both teams started a new pitcher with each inning. SEC Nation co-host Marty Smith threw out the first pitch.

SEC Nation co-host Marty Smith throws out the first pitch as the Georgia-Florida exhibition baseball game on Friday evening, November 1, 2019
SEC Nation co-host Marty Smith throws out the first pitch as the Georgia-Florida exhibition baseball game on Friday evening, November 1, 2019

Georgia drew first blood in the top of the first inning when sophomore Randon Jernigan scored from third base on a wild pitch by Florida right-hander Tommy Mace with two outs. Junior Riley King advanced to second but the Dawgs were not able to take advantage as Mace struck out Connor Tate.

Senior right-hander Logan Moody started off on the mound for UGA in the bottom of the first. Things didn’t go so well for Moody from the get-go as he walked leadoff batter, Justin Young. However, Austin Langworthy would hit into a 4-6-3 double play. Moody would again find himself in trouble after walking the next two Gater batters but would escape the inning when Kendrick Calilao popped out to shallow left field. The Dawgs would head to the top of the second inning leading 1-0.

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The Bulldogs would add a second run in the 2nd-inning when Florida right-hander Jack Leftwich threw two wild pitches that allowed Georgia’s Chaney Rogers to advance from first to third. Leftwich then walked Cole Tate which led to a double steal with Tate taking stealing second and Rogers stealing home. The Dawgs would leave a runner stranded on second base when Josh McAllister looped what looked to be a single into the gap between left and center field; however, Jud Fabian was able to chase the ball down to get the Gators to the bottom of the second.

Georgia maintained a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the third, and then the wheels came off the bus. For the third inning, the Bulldogs went to right-hander Brandon Smith. The freshman looked uncomfortable from the onset, walking leadoff batter Kirby McMullen and follows that up by hitting Jacob Young. With runners on 1st and 2nd, Smith continued to struggle with his control and walked Austin Langworthy to load the bases. Fabian would make the Dawgs and Smith pay with a 3-run double to take the lead.

And the Gators were not done. Georgia would make a pitching change after Smith struck out Nathan Hickey and go with Darryn Pasqua, a sophomore right-hander. Pasqua would get Kendrick Calilao to pop out to center, but Fabian advanced to second on the sacrifice fly. With two outs, Josh Riveria would single into center field allowing Fabian to score. Pasqua would strike out Brady Smith to end the inning, but the damage was down and Georgia went to the top of the fourth down 2 runs to Florida, 4-2.

Florida would add one more run in the fifth inning to extend their lead, 5-2. The Bulldogs would add a run of their in the sixth to close the gap, but were unable to put a further dent to the Gators lead.

“We had one rough inning that was the difference in the game,” said Georgia’s Ike Cousins head baseball coach Scott Stricklin. “Overall, I was pleased with how we competed.”

Despite the loss, Georgia’s Randon Jernigan said it was a “really fun” experience.

“It was really fun,” said Jernigan. “We’ve been to crazy places like this before, but the whole thing was fun.”​

Stricklin added,  “The city of Jacksonville has to be very pleased with this tonight. The crowd, the energy, it just seemed very positive. It seemed like it went very well from the dugout, seeing all the seats were full. To be able to do that in the fall is a great experience for all players.”

The Georgia baseball team will begin their 2020 season in February with a three-game homestand at Foley Field versus Richmond starting on Friday, February 14, 2020.

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The University of Georgia 1991-1994. Lanier Tech 2009-2012. Writer and graphic artist covering UGA athletics, college football, and recruiting. Peach cobbler fears me!