Lots of news came in from Athens late Friday night –- all of it good if you’re a Georgia fan:
A few minutes before midnight, Georgia’s men’s tennis team upset rival Florida 4-2 in the NCAA tournament at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
The rain-delayed victory avenged two Georgia losses to the Gators earlier this season and put the Bulldogs in the NCAA quarterfinals. Florida was the tournament’s No. 6 seed and Georgia the No. 11 seed.
Georgia’s victory marked the second time in four years the Dogs have knocked the Gators out of the NCAA men’s tennis tournament. Georgia is now 51-18 all-time against Florida in men’s tennis.
The Dogs got off to a good start in Friday’s match by winning the doubles point, but had to rally in singles after the Gators took the first set on four of the six courts. The clinching victory came when Georgia’s 22nd-ranked Javier Garrapiz beat Florida’s 7th-ranked Alex Lacroix 6-4, 7-6(5) at No. 1 singles.
Georgia also got victories from Nate Schnugg at No. 2 singles and Drake Bernstein at No. 4. Bernstein dropped the first set but came back for a 1-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory.
In his post-match comments, Florida coach Andy Jackson gave credit to the Georgia team and fans:
“Georgia was underrated by everyone but us. They’ve got national championship type players. We understood coming into the match how hard it was going to be. . . .
“They had a ton of people here, but it’s nothing different than what we had earlier in Florida. They were trying to get into our heads, which is what you have to expect. To their credit, it’s great that they got their fans here.”
In the quarterfinals, Georgia will face Oklahoma, which upset No. 3 seed Texas 4-2. The Georgia-Oklahoma match is scheduled for 5 p.m. Sunday. Former Georgia player John Roddick is in his first season as Oklahoma’s coach.
Sunday’s other men’s quarterfinals: No. 1 seed Virginia vs. UCLA, defending champion USC vs. Ohio State and Tennessee vs. Baylor
(And if you missed it, here’s a story on how Athens became the capital of college tennis.)
David Perno told his Georgia baseball team to treat the season-closing series against Kentucky as the first games of next season. By that measure, the 2011 Bulldogs are off to a 2-0 start.
In yet another example of just how crazy the game of baseball can be, Georgia has posted back-to-back wins over Kentucky the past two nights, 8-6 on Thursday and 20-0 on Friday. That gives the Dogs just one fewer SEC win in this series (2) than they had all season previously (3).
In Friday’s rain-delayed game, Georgia (now 16-36 overall, 5-22 SEC) posted its largest margin of victory in an SEC game since 1994. The Bulldogs collected 22 hits –- all singles -– and got a combined shutout from starter Jeff Walters, who went a career-high seven innings, and two relievers. Offensively, Johnathan Taylor went 5-for-5, Kyle Farmer 4-for-5 and Kevin Ruiz 4-for-4.
The Bulldogs go for a sweep of Kentucky when they close the series -– and the season –- with a Saturday afternoon game. Whatever happens in the finale, Georgia has clinched its first SEC series of the season.
“This program can thrive, and it will thrive again,” Perno said late Thursday. “And to feel some success on the last weekend and to get a little momentum, that has helped us in years past, and hopefully it’ll do the same again.”
(What went wrong this season, notwithstanding the past two nights? Click here.)
In a game pushed back 2 ½ hours by the weather, Georgia’s softball team got off to a good start in the NCAA tournament, beating Elon 10-4 in an Athens Regional opener Friday night.
Two-run homers by Taylor Schlopy and Alisa Goler gave Georgia a school-record 90 homers for the season.
The Bulldogs (44-11) next play Florida State (44-16) at noon Saturday. FSU beat Radford 10-1 in five innings Friday afternoon.