NASHVILLE—The 17th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs scored three runs in the eighth and rallied past No. 15 Vanderbilt 3-2 Thursday in front of 2,950 at Hawkins Field.
Bulldog senior Mitchell Webb delivered a pinch-hit, two-out, go-ahead RBI-single, sophomore Tony Locey improved to 6-0 and third baseman/closer Aaron Schunk recorded the final four outs for his fourth save to lead Georgia to its latest victory. The Bulldogs have won 16 of their last 18 games, improved to 23-7 overall and remain atop the SEC with an 8-2 league mark.
Sophomore Drake Fellows tossed seven shutout innings for the Commodores (17-13, 5-5 SEC) who carried a 2-0 lead to the eighth. Vanderbilt took a 1-0 lead in the fourth. After a pair of one-out walks, they executed a double steal and a sacrifice fly by Cooper Davis put them out in front. Georgia looked to answer in the top of the fifth as junior Adam Sasser led off with a double. However, Fellows came back to strike out the side to maintain their edge. Also, Georgia missed another scoring opportunity in the seventh. Cam Shepherd reached with a leadoff walk and Sasser followed with a base hit. Then, LJ Talley lined into a double play and Mason Meadows popped out. Shepherd saved a run with a diving stop on a ball hit up the middle in the seventh.
Fellows issued a leadoff walk to Tucker Maxwell in the eighth, and the Commodores went to the bullpen. Sophomore left-hander Zach King came on and Tucker Bradley worked a walk. The Bulldogs executed a double steal and an error by catcher Stephen Scott got Georgia on the board as Maxwell raced home and Bradley made it to third. Schunk delivered a game-tying sacrifice fly to make it 2-all. Keegan McGovern then reached on a throwing error by King and moved into scoring position with a stolen base. After retiring Curry for the second out, Vanderbilt opted to intentionally walk Shepherd. Georgia pinch-hit for Sasser and sent Webb to the plate who delivered a run-scoring single.
In the bottom of the frame, the Commodores attempted to answer back. Zac Kristofak came on for Locey who went 1.2 innings after senior Chase Adkins started and allowed one run on five hits in 5.1 innings. Ethan Paul was hit by a pitch and then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. After a Scott single, Vanderbilt had runners at the corners.
With a 2-0 count on pinch-hitter Walker Grisanti,
Georgia looked to Schunk to get them out of the jam. Talley moved from second to third base while senior Trey Logan entered the game at second. Scott stole second base and then Schunk battled back to strike out Grisanti. Then, he got Julian Infante to fly out to keep the Bulldogs in front. Schunk, who earlier in the day was named to Perfect Game and D1Baseball.com Mid-Season All-America teams as a utility player, took care of the ninth to earn his fourth save, highlighted by a couple of sterling defensive plays by Logan.
“I’m really proud of the fellas tonight,” said Georgia’s Ike Cousins head baseball coach Scott Stricklin. “We had a lot of people contribute on the mound, at the plate, in the field and that’s great to see. They kept fighting and competing and got a really big win to start this series. We kept it close and we’re only down 1-0 and then 2-0, but we knew we had a chance. Our team is playing with a lot of confidence. We pulled it out and got the W.”
The series continues Friday at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be streamed on SEC Network+ and available on the Bulldogs Sports Network from IMG.