Georgia played its first true “must-win” game on Saturday against Ole Miss, which was the final contest of a three-game series. The Bulldogs lost “as tough of a game” as Scott Stricklin had been a part of on Friday night, losing 8-5 to the Rebels in 11 innings. Georgia’s head coach said he only slept about two hours, following the “haunting” game.
The Bulldogs staved off a sweep though on Saturday with a 13-2 decisive victory over Ole Miss on senior day at Foley Field. Although Georgia had already lost the series, which was the fourth series loss in a row, the Bulldogs avoided being swept at any point this season. Twice already this year the Bulldogs have won the final game of a series after going down 0-2, the previous came against Texas A&M and Florida.
“I don’t really know what it is, but there is a lot of fight in us,” said Georgia’s Garrett Blaylock. “Kinda had a good approach at the plate, [Cannon] threw it well and we responded. That was huge to not get swept and win the way that we did. So that was awesome.”
Seniors Riley King, Chaney Rogers and Blaylock helped deliver an offensive onslaught for Georgia. Before the game, those were three of the 11 players recognized in the senior day festivities. Georgia finished the regular season with a 30-23 record, going 13-17 in conference play.
The Rebels struck first in the top half of the opening frame, which seemed like trouble could be coming for Georgia with the way the Rebels’ offense took off in the later innings Friday night. However, Georgia was able to come back with two runs of its own, led by a Corey Collins double and a Garrett Blaylock single. Collins now leads the team in RBIs with 35 on the season.
Ole Miss second baseman Peyton Chatagnier hit a solo home run in the top of the second to tie the game at two runs, but that was all for the Rebels offense on the day. Georgia starting pitcher Jonathan Cannon got his second win in a row to improve his record to 4-2 on the year. Cannon pitched seven innings, striking out eight Ole Miss batters. He did not allow a hit until the seventh inning following the home run from Chatagnier in the second.
“That was the difference maker today, I was able to throw my slider where I wanted to,” said Cannon on his control. “I feel like my control has been really good all year, I just had a couple bumps these last few couple weeks. I was able to work around them.”
The Bulldogs’ offense finished with 17 hits on the day. Other significant contributors included Josh McAllister and Ben Anderson. McAllister had three hits on the day, while Anderson scored three runs. Blaylock launched a three-run home run to right field, which broke the game open for Georgia with an 8-2 lead.
It is no secret that Georgia is a team on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament. Tuesday, Georgia will start its journey in the SEC Tournament. The Bulldogs are locked into the eighth seed and will play No. 9 seeded LSU. Tuesday’s games are single elimination, so it is “win or go home.” Stricklin said Luke Wagner will most likely be the starting pitcher and the only pitcher that definitely would not be available is Jonathan Cannon.
“The winner is going to get to 14 [conference] wins, I think that gets you in [the NCAA Tournament],” said Stricklin on his teams’ mindset heading to Hoover, Alabama. “The RPI, the strength of schedule, LSU and us both have the resume to do it.”