Keegan McGovern had another strong game at the plate, totaling three RBI and hitting his third home run of the season, but Georgia’s (4-3) seven-run performance came up just short as the Bulldogs fell 8-7 to Western Kentucky (5-1) on Sunday afternoon at Foley Field.
A back-and-forth affair, the Bulldogs and Hilltoppers traded the lead six times. The home team held a one-run lead heading into the final inning, but a two-run blast gave Western Kentucky the decisive edge. Georgia displayed a gritty team effort in the weekend finale, coming from behind to take the lead in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, but they were unable to get anything going in the final frame.
Georgia plated two in the top of the first inning as McGovern sent a moonshot over the wall in right to also bring in Skyler Weber for a quick two-run lead.
The Hilltoppers tied the game in the third, using four walks and a single to push two runs across and draw even. Blake Cairnes took over for starterKevin Smith in the frame, walking in the second run before inducing a pop up to end the inning.
A two-out RBI double in the top of the sixth gave Western Kentucky the lead, but it was short-lived as the Bulldogs roared back in the bottom of the inning with two runs of their own to take a 4-3 lead. Both runs came off free passes, as Daniel Nichols walked to lead off the inning and LJ Talley was hit by a pitch.
Western Kentucky tied the game in the seventh, cashing in on a bases-loaded, one-out opportunity by using a wild pitch to draw even. Once again, the Bulldogs immediately responded, using a leadoff walk from Stephen Wrenn and a McGovern double to jump ahead 5-4.
The Hilltoppers regained the lead in the eighth, pushing two runs across as they totaled three hits and a walk in the frame for a 6-5 edge. Georgia counterpunched, scoring two runs of its own thanks to a RBI single from Weber and a sac fly from Wrenn immediately after to take a 7-6 lead into the final inning.
After a leadoff double in the top of the ninth put Georgia’s lead in danger, a two-run home run gave Western Kentucky the decisive 8-7 lead.
– Trey Logan got his first career starting nod at shortstop in the contest. He previously recorded starts at second and third.
– Keegan McGovern’s first-inning homer was his third of the season. He has homered in back-to-back games.
– Logan’s one-out double in the second inning was his first career extra base hit.
– In scoring innings against southpaw starter Ryan Thurston, lefties in the Georgia lineup were 3-for-3 with a home run, two walks and a hit by pitch. In all other innings they were 0-for-8.
– McGovern’s RBI double in the seventh inning brought his team-leading season total to 11 RBI.
– There were six lead changes throughout the course of the contest.
Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach Scott Stricklin
On the game…
“We didn’t stop fighting, but we just didn’t play very well, bottom line. We walked 11 guys, we had four wild pitches, we hit two batters, we struck out 15 times. It’s amazing that we were in that game. To go back and forth like that, to feel like we’ve got the win going into the ninth with the lead and then lose, it’s certainly tough to lose that way. If we win that game, I’m not sure we deserve to win it. We did not play good baseball.”
On the pitching performance…
“We didn’t throw enough strikes. We walked 11 guys and we hit two. We gave them 13 bases. That’s the amazing thing, that we were still in that game and had a chance to win. We just didn’t play well. We didn’t play great defensively. We had a couple of times we needed to make plays and didn’t make them. We didn’t pitch well at all, and offensively we weren’t very good there either. We got a couple clutch hits there late, but when you strike out 15 times you’re just not giving yourself much of a chance to win.”
On positives he can take from the game…
“We didn’t quit. Guys kept fighting. We fell behind two innings in a row and we fought back and took the lead. We just couldn’t close it out, and that’s unfortunate.”
Soph. OF Keegan McGovern
On getting a majority of the hits for Georgia…
“We’re just trying to come out here an put our best swings on the ball. We all have to come together as one. I’m really happy with how we’re doing in the seventh, eighth, ninth innings and coming back with a few runs. We’re all sticking together. We just have to pull it out in the end.”
On the team’s offensive approach…
“The other day it was rough for us, but yesterday we were starting to put some more swings on the ball and starting to see pitches up in the zone. We just have to start seeing those pitches up, not swinging at the ones that are low and we’ll be okay. “
Fr. P Kevin Smith
On differences between his first performance and tonight…
“Today I didn’t feel as comfortable as I did last time. I didn’t make the pitches that I really needed to make, as I did last week. I pitched pretty well last week, and today I just didn’t have it. Next week’s a new week. I’ll bounce back.”
On the team’s pitching performance…
“We’re fine. As a staff we had a lot of walks, but overall we were fine. We know how good we are, because this whole season we’ve been great. I’m sure next game we’ll be great.”
Georgia will play host to Charleston Southern for a pair of mid-week contests. The series will kick off on Tuesday at 5 p.m.
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