Senior pitcher Heath Holder made his first career start on the mound and was credited with a quality start after tossing 6.2 innings while allowing three earned runs, but a comeback effort for the Bulldogs (1-1) fell short as they fell 5-3 to Georgia Southern (1-1) in extra innings on Saturday afternoon at Foley Field.
After falling behind 3-0, Georgia used a three-run seventh inning, highlighted by a Keegan McGoverntwo-run homer, to draw even with the Eagles. The Bulldogs threatened to steal the victory in the ninth, but they could not cash in on a bases-loaded, one-out opportunity. The next inning, Georgia Southern’s Ryan Cleveland launched the decisive two-run homer.
The Eagles struck first in Saturday’s contest, cashing in on a one-out triple and a two-out RBI single later in the frame to claim a 2-0 lead through three innings.
After the Bulldogs registered their first hit in the bottom of the fifth, coming off the bat of freshmanMichael Curry, Georgia Southern added to its lead in the sixth by using a hit-by-pitch and two wild pitches to push across a third run.
Mitchell Webb was the hero in the top of the seventh, as he came through with a big diving stop with a runner on second and two outs to keep the ball in the infield. The runner was stranded at third as the next Eagle batter flew out to left, ending the threat.
The Bulldogs turned the tide in the bottom of the frame as McGovern launched his fourth career homer off the scoreboard in right after Skyler Weber walked to open the frame, bringing the home team to within one run at 3-2. Georgia turned to small ball after the bomb, using a sacrifice bunt after two straight free passes to put two in scoring position with one out. Webb came through once again for Georgia with a RBI groundout to tie the game at three runs apiece.
Georgia Southern seized control in the top of the 10th, grabbing a 5-3 lead with a Cleveland two-run jack that proved to be the difference in the game.
– Michael Curry registered Georgia’s first hit of the day, a laser to center to claim his first career knock as a Bulldog.
– Senior Heath Holder made his first career start on the bump for the Bulldogs, going 6.2 innings while allowing three earned runs on four hits with three strikeouts, two walks and three hit batters. He got a no-decision in the contest.
– First baseman Adam Sasser and pitcher Andrew Gist each made their respective debuts in red and black. Sasser had a strong game in the field while Gist tossed two scoreless innings.
– Keegan McCovern launched his fourth career homer, a two-run shot off the scoreboard in right that brought Georgia back to within one run at 3-2.
– A resourceful offensive effort allowed Georgia to capitalize with three runs on just four hits in 10 innings.
Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach Scott Stricklin
On Heath Holder’s first start…
“Your biggest thing [this early] is your starters giving you some depth, giving you some length…He gave us a chance to win. He wasn’t at his best, he hit a couple of guys and his command was off just a little bit, but he competes so much it gives you a chance.”
On team battling back into the game…
“It is encouraging. Our guys didn’t quit. We kept battling and had a chance to win that game, a game that we were down 3-0 and it really didn’t look good for us. But next thing you know we’ve got it tied up and had a chance to win it in the ninth.”
On team’s overall execution…
“Well when you’re playing a good team and you know it is going to be close it is the little things that make the difference. We gave them a couple of free bases and didn’t execute a baserunner when we needed to there late. It`s baseball and you have to turn the page, get better and move on.”
Sr. P Heath Holder
On how he felt in his first career start on the mound…
“It was an awesome feeling, for sure, just getting out there with the crowd. (It was) a lot of prayers and dreams come true.”
On how he thought his first start went…
“Okay, at best. There were some pitches that I could have made. Most of the time I do make them. (There were) some pitches I shouldn’t have thrown that came back to bite me in the butt. I’m happy with the way I competed.”
So. LF Keegan McGovern
On the team’s early offensive struggles…
“Throughout the first couple of innings we were just a bit late on everything…once they switched pitchers in the sixth, seventh and eighth we were going to make it our mission to be on time and start hitting some of those pitches better.”
On his home run…
“It was a slider, he had thrown me one or two of them earlier and both of them were low. So I was thinking he might come back with the same one, and it hung up just a little bit more than the other ones.”
Georgia looks to take the series from Georgia Southern in Sunday’s tilt, scheduled for a 1 p.m. first pitch at Foley Field.