Junior righty Robert Tyler (1-0) fanned a career-best 13 batters, finishing with five scoreless innings to his credit as Georgia (1-0) topped Georgia Southern (0-1) by a 4-1 final in front of a capacity-plus crowd of 3,422 on Friday night at Foley Field.
Along with Tyler, who struck out eight of the final nine batters he faced and allowed only one hit, sophomore Bo Tucker and freshman Blakely Brown chipped in to the solid four-hit pitching performance for the Bulldogs in which the Eagles’ lone run was unearned and the pitching trio tallied 18 strikeouts.
The Bulldogs climbed on top in the third inning as Mitchell Webb walked and Patrick Sullivan notched his first career hit to open the frame. The pair moved into scoring position after a bunt, and Nick King and Skyler Weber each recorded a RBI in the frame to take a 2-0 lead.
The lead extended on a long ball from Daniel Nichols in the sixth, a hot shot that sailed over the right field fence to score Keegan McGovern and give Georgia a 4-0 lead.
The Eagles battled in the eighth, pushing a run across after an infield single and a walk set the table for their first run of the season. Brown entered and limited the damage, allowing the Eagles one unearned run.
Brown returned for the ninth and slammed the door shut with two strikeouts and a pop out to short to earn the save in his first appearance as a Bulldog.
– Robert Tyler recorded a career-best 13 strikeouts in the contest, besting his former career high of 11 against Missouri in 2014. In doing so, he struck out eight of the final nine batters he faced.
– Georgia started four freshman in the game, its largest opening-day group of freshmen since 2009 (five). Of those, Logan Moody and Patrick Sullivan recorded their respective first career hits in the contest, both singles.
– Daniel Nichols launched his 12th career homer, a two-run shot, which lifted Georgia to a 4-0 lead in the sixth inning.
– Blakely Brown made his collegiate pitching debut, inheriting two runners. One came around to score on an errant through, but he responded with his first career strikeout to end the frame.
– Georgia won its season opener for the second time in three years under Coach Stricklin.
Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach Scott Stricklin
On the pitch count for Robert Tyler…
“That’s how we drew it up. We came into this and said five, hope for six. If he had had a couple of quick innings he would have gone for six, but when you strike out that many you’re going to have a high pitch count. He had command from the first pitch on.”
On the young pitching staff…
“I’m really excited for Bo Tucker. Bo went out there and pitched really well and Blakely Brown, we wanted to get him an inning tonight, but we hoped it would be in a 6-1 or 7-1 lead. We put him out there with guys on base and he had the biggest at bat of the game with (Ryan) Cleveland there and he struck him out. It was great to see the freshman do that, to go out there with the lights on and a sellout crowd, that was exciting for Blakely.”
On Sullivan and Moody’s first career hits…
“They are going to be (a big part of the lineup). Just getting that first one out of the way, a lot of people have gone 0-for-a-long-time when they start as freshmen, so to get that one out of the way and to realize that it’s not as hard as we make it out to be, it was good for those guys to do that.
Jr. P Robert Tyler
On the win…
“It ‘s awesome to see everything we’ve been preparing for in the fall and in the spring to come out here and show it off a little bit and to get this first win, it was a great time.”
On his record-setting performance…
“I wasn’t expecting that at all. I knew I was on a pitch count and I was going to roll with that and do my best, but I definitely wasn’t expecting that (performance) tonight. It was awesome.”
Sr. INF Daniel Nichols
On the season-opening win…
“I thought we did a really good job. I thought we pitched the ball well. Hats off to Robert Tyler. (It was an) excellent performance through five innings of work. Our relievers, to see them (close it out) was impressive too.”
On his home run…
“I knew (Challenger) was going to come with a hanging breaking ball because with Keegan (McGovern) on first base we knew they’d like to work ahead in the count. I just got a good pitch to hit, and I drove it.”
Georgia and Georgia Southern meet once again on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Foley Field for game two of the three-game set.