On Thursday, the Georgia baseball team clinched one of the twelve SEC Tournament spots with a 6-3 win over South Carolina, and the Bulldogs followed that up with a 5-4 victory over the Gamecocks on Friday to win their third straight SEC series in a row.
Over the last three weeks in the SEC, the Bulldogs (25-30, 11-18 SEC) have won a road series versus fourth-ranked Kentucky, beat sixth-ranked Mississippi State in Athens two games to one and now have won the first two contests against the 30th-ranked Gamecocks in Columbia. Overall, Georgia has won eight of its last 10 games.
South Carolina (31-23, 12-17 SEC) grabbed its first lead of the series with a two-out RBI-single by TJ Hopkins in the second. The Gamecocks made it 2-0 when Justin Row doubled and scored in the third. Georgia surged in front 3-2 in the fifth when junior Keegan McGovern (1-4, 4 RBI) cleared the bases with a three-run double off USC reliever Josh Reagan.
The Gamecocks put two on with one out in the fifth, and Georgia turned a double play to extinguish the threat to maintain its edge. In the sixth, Georgia looked to junior Chase Adkins who made his first relief appearance of the year after 13 starts. The Gamecocks managed to load the bases on a single, error and hit by pitch, however, Adkins and the Bulldogs escaped unscathed. Georgia pushed across a run in the seventh to make it a 4-2 contest. Freshman Tucker Bradley was hit by a pitch, took second on a base hit by Cam Shepherd (2-for-5), and then the Bulldogs executed a double steal. With one out, McGovern tied his career high with his fourth RBI on a groundout.
With two on and one out in the seventh, Adkins was lifted in favor of left-hander Justin Glover to face the left-handed hitting Alex Destino. He retired him and then struck out Jacob Olson to preserve Georgia’s two-run lead. In the eighth, South Carolina made its first error of the night, and it came with two outs and allowed a run in to extend Georgia’s lead to 5-2. USC tried to rally in the eighth, putting two on and one out for the top of the order. However, Drew Moody got LT Tolbert to bounce one to Shepherd at shortstop, and the Bulldogs turned their second double play of the night.
In the ninth, Georgia brought in junior closer Blake Cairnes, and the Gamecocks rallied for two runs on four hits to make it a one-run contest. They had the bases loaded and two outs when Cairnes got Row to fly out to center to end the game. Cairnes picked up his fifth save while Georgia sophomore starter Kevin Smith worked five innings with five strikeouts for the win and even his record to 5-5. USC starter Adam Hill fell to 3-6, allowing three runs on five hits with six strikeouts in 4.1 innings.
CLICK HERE for the final stats and box score from game two of the Georgia-South Carolina series.
The South Carolina series concludes Saturday with first pitch set for 3:02 p.m. and available on the SEC Network and the Bulldog Sports Network from IMG. Georgia will start freshman right-hander Tony Locey while the Gamecocks have not announced a starter.
Junior Keegan McGovern delivered a three-run double in the 5th to put Georgia in front 3-2. He made it 4-2 with an RBI-groundout in the seventh to tie his career high for RBI.
Freshman Cam Shepherd went 2-for-5 for his team-leading 20th multi-hit game of the year along with 71 hits.
Junior Chase Adkins made his first relief appearance for the Bulldogs after 13 starts this year.
Sophomore Adam Sasser matched his career high five-game hitting streak when he singled in the second inning. He finished 2-for-4.
Junior Blake Cairnes notched his fifth save of the season.
Coach’s Corner: Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach Scott Stricklin
“It’s a good sign that we didn’t play great but found a way to win. We struck out 14 times, made three errors with six walks, but we hung in there. We still clinched our third straight SEC series against ranked teams including two of them on the road. Keegan McGovern had a nice night for us and came through with a big at bat in the fifth to clear the bases and give us a lead. We planned to use Chase out of the bullpen tonight, and we ended up getting several guys who came in and contributed and got some big outs.”