The No. 4 national-seeded Georgia Bulldogs downed a second opponent in the NCAA Athens Regional, defeating No. 2-seed Florida Atlantic 13-0 in a Sunday elimination game at Foley Field.
Next, Georgia (46-16) rematches with Florida State in a 6 p.m. elimination game at Foley Field. The Bulldogs could force a winner-take-all matchup at 4 p.m. Monday with a win later today.
Tim Elliott (7-3) turned in his first complete game shutout of his career on 95 pitches with eight strikeouts, no walks and two hits. The junior RHP also preserved Georgia’s bullpen for the remainder of the regional. Elliott’s nine innings of work and eight strikeouts were also career bests.
In the batter’s box, Georgia’s Aaron Schunk led the way with his second multi-home run game of the regional, following up his two-home run, five-RBI performance against Mercer with a two-home run, six-RBI outing against the Owls. All told, Schunk is batting .500 this weekend with four homers and 13 RBI.
The Bulldogs broke through in the third inning with a two-run home run by Schunk, which would start a five-inning home run streak from the third inning through the eighth. With two outs, the junior blasted a shot to left-center to draw first blood.
Connor Tate followed up with a rocket shot of his own in the fourth inning. After Shepherd singled and Mason Meadows walked, the freshman tattooed a home run to nearly the same spot as Schunk’s and gave Georgia a 5-0 lead.
Shepherd knocked the Bulldogs’ third home run in as many innings with a leadoff homer in the sixth, upping the lead to 6-0. After going hitless in the first two games in the Athens Regional, the junior went 3-for-5 with a single, double and a home run.
John Cable continued the streak in the seventh, hitting a towering shot off the batter’s eye in center to score LJ Talley and himself. The graduate transfer turned in his eighth home run of 2019, improving his team-second RBI total to 47.
Schunk capped off Georgia’s five-inning home run streak with the best shot of all: a two-out grand slam in the top of the eighth to score Meadows, Connor Tate and Randon Jernigan. With his 15th home run of the season for 58 total RBI, Schunk notched a new program record for grand slams in a season (8). It was also his first grand slam of his career.
With nearly 3,000 of the Foley faithful standing on their feet, Elliott retired the last three batters and sealed a 13-0 final.
Ike Cousins Head Coach Scott Stricklin
On how he and the coaching staff made the pitching decision…
“Well, to be honest, we could’ve flipped a coin. We really didn’t know. We went back and forth [about] what we wanted to do, and so we just talked to the staff. I don’t think we could have gone wrong to have both those guys [Tim Elliott or Cole Wilcox] sitting there. We were in really good shape, and I think at the end of the day, we needed length in this game. Cole is a little bit of a high pitch guy, and Tim is a little bit more efficient with his pitches. So, you know, you could have gone either way. The way that [Tim] was pitching today, he could’ve gotten anybody out. So, it really wouldn’t matter when he was strong today. But that was really the final decision– we thought [Tim] could maybe give us more innings. You know, we were hoping for six or seven, and he gave us nine and, again, you can’t ask for anything more than that when you get in the losers bracket. You have to have somebody step up, and Tim did that.”
Junior Tim Elliott
On what his performance ranks for him personally//the importance of saving the bullpen…
“Definitely number one, especially the position that we’re in right now. It’s definitely on the top of my list. So, really happy that we got it through. [Saving pitchers] was huge, right, huge. I mean, we can definitely save some of our dudes for next game. And then, of course, we need Monday, too. So, we’ve got to be all on board.”