GAINESVILLE, FLA.— Junior Kevin Smith is undefeated on his birthday, and Sunday he led No. 15 Georgia to a 4-1 win over top-ranked Florida Sunday at McKethan Stadium.
Smith improved to 7-1 on the year and 3-0 in his career on his birthday as he celebrated his 21st Sunday by pitching seven innings and allowing just one run on three hits with six strikeouts. The Bulldogs moved their record to 35-16 overall and 16-11 in the SEC.
Florida (41-12, 20-7 SEC) took a 1-0 lead in the second as Wil Dalton reached with a leadoff walk and eventually scored on an RBI-groundout by Blake Reese. Georgia responded in the third with a two-out rally. Freshman C.J. Smith lined a single to left and sophomore Aaron Schunk followed with a base hit as they extended their hitting streaks to five and a career-best 19 games respectively. Then, senior Keegan McGovern crushed his 14th home run, a three-run blast over the scoreboard in right field for a 3-1 advantage. It was McGovern’s fifth hit of the series including third for extra bases. In the fourth, Georgia loaded the bases with nobody out but managed just one run on an RBI-groundout by Smith for a 4-1 lead.
“This was one of the biggest wins of the year and good to see us come back after Saturday’s performance,” said Georgia’s Ike Cousins head baseball coach Scott Stricklin. “Kevin Smith was outstanding on his birthday again, Keegan McGovern had the big home run and everyone played well. Offensively, we need to execute better but overall we got an impressive 4-1 win on the road against the number one team in the country.”
Last year on his birthday, Smith defeated sixth-ranked Mississippi State 4-1 at Foley Field, pitching seven scoreless innings with six strikeouts, and as a freshman in 2016, he earned a win in relief against Missouri. Before today, the last time Georgia registered a win over the top-ranked team came in the 2011 SEC Tournament, a 4-2 victory over South Carolina in Hoover, Ala.
“I had good command of my fastball and my off-speed pitches were working well, and this was a huge win for us,” said Smith. “We didn’t want to be swept, and we came in today and got the victory.”
Bulldog freshman Ryan Webb pitched the eighth and Schunk took care of the ninth for his eighth save to go along with a 19-game hitting streak.
The Bulldogs close out the regular season with a four-game stretch at Foley Field starting Tuesday. First pitch against Presbyterian will be at 6 p.m. Then, the final SEC series starts Thursday night versus sixth-ranked Arkansas.