The 23rd-ranked Georgia Bulldogs blasted seven home runs to ambush top-ranked Vanderbilt 14-2 Thursday at Hawkins Field.
Georgia (19-10, 4-6 SEC) grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first. Ben Anderson lined a leadoff single to left, then Cole Tate drew a walk and freshman Corey Collins crushed a three-run home to right centerfield. It was the first home run allowed by Vanderbilt ace Kumar Rocker this year, a span of 42 innings as he entered with a 7-0 mark and 0.84 ERA. For Collins, it was his fifth home run. Vanderbilt got a run back with a two-out, RBI-double from Jack Bulger, scoring Dominic Keegan who reached on a two-out walk and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch.
Will Pearson (2-0) came on for freshman Luke Wagner to start the third and provided two scoreless innings for the win. Like Rocker, he is a product of North Oconee High School in Bogart. Michael Polk took care of the fifth and combined with Collin Caldwell to take care of the sixth as the Commodores left the bases loaded. Nolan Crisp began the seventh and Ben Harris collected six strikeouts over the final 2.1 innings to preserve the victory. The Commodores (24-4, 8-2 SEC) saw their nine-game winning streak snap. Rocker (7-1) allowed six runs on seven hits with 12 strikeouts over five innings.
In the sixth, Georgia had another three-run outburst. Connor Tate led off with his sixth home run. Riley King followed with a base hit and then Garrett Blaylock smashed a towering home run way out of Hawkins Field to make it 6-1 Bulldogs. That would end Rocker’s outing. In the seventh, Georgia extended its lead to 9-1 with another three-run frame, this time without the benefit of a hit. The Bulldogs took advantage of four walks, an error, a hit batter and a wild pitch.
The Bulldogs capped their offensive outburst with five runs in the ninth, hitting back-to-back-to-back home runs for the second time this season and finished with four in the frame. Tate and Blaylock hit their second of the game, King hit his third while Anderson collected his first as a Bulldog. Georgia finished with 11 hits including seven home runs and 16 strikeouts. Georgia posted its first win over a No. 1 ranked team since a 4-1 victory over Florida in 2018.
Game two of the series here is slated for Friday at 7:32 p.m. ET on SEC Network+ and can be heard on the Georgia Bulldog Sports Network.
Georgia’s Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach Scott Stricklin
On the game
“Luke Wagner gave us what we needed and we knew we were going to have a bullpen day and that was the same formula last Friday night when we beat South Carolina. It was great to see Ben Harris finish. It’s a little bit of a roller coaster, and he’ll make you a little nervous sometimes, but man it’s an explosive fastball and for him to finish things like that was pretty big.”
On the offense tonight
“Coach (Scott) Daeley did a great job of preparing these hitters. They’ve been watching a lot of video over the last 48 hours. We have our work cut out for us tomorrow in facing Jack Leiter. These guys are a really good team, the No. 1 team in the country for a reason. Sometimes you have a really good night, and we had a really good night tonight. How about Garrett Blaylock? He comes back to Vanderbilt where he started his career and to hit two home runs, I know it’s special for him. I’m really proud of him. Connor Tate, Ben Anderson, Corey Collins hit home runs too. Overall, we played about as good as you can play. We played great defense too.”