Georgia got another gem out of junior righty Robert Tyler, but the offense couldn’t figure out South Alabama’s (5-0) Kevin Hill as the Bulldogs (3-2) fell by a 3-1 final to the Jaguars on Friday Night at Foley Field.
Tyler (1-1) went six innings and took the loss while allowing only two hits, both in the first inning, and one run. He followed up his Opening Day 13-strikeout performance by fanning eight hitters on Friday, giving him 21 Ks in 11 innings on the year.
Sophomore outfielder Keegan McGovern supplied the offense as he hit his second homer of the season, a bomb over the fence in right-center. McGovern’s solo shot was one of just three hits for Georgia in the contest.
The Jaguars jumped on top in the first, cashing in after putting their first two runners aboard as a Danny Martinez two-out RBI single gave South Alabama a 1-0 lead.
The aces then traded perfect innings, as no players reached base until a one-out single from freshman LJ Talley broke up Hill’s no-hit bid. It was Talley’s first career knock.
Bo Tucker relieved Tyler in the seventh inning, and he immediately found himself in a jam after allowing a leadoff double and a walk to the next batter. A wild pitch allowed both runners to move up, and a bunt several hitters later pushed across a second run for a 2-0 lead for the visitors.
McGovern immediately got the run back with a one-out solo bomb in the seventh to bring Georgia back within a run as the game headed into the home stretch.
The Jaguars started the ninth with back-to-back hits, placing runners on the corners with no outs. They came through for one run, with the damage limited with help from a 5-2-3 double-play. Georgia was unable to score in the bottom of the frame, falling to the Jaguars 3-1.
– Robert Tyler now has 21 strikeouts in 11 innings, giving him an astronomical 17.18 strikeouts-per-nine-innings. The junior righty has been downright dominant, at one point claiming 20 strikeouts in the first 24 outs recorded by the team this season while he was on the mound.
– Freshman LJ Talley recorded his first career hit, a single up the middle to break up Hill’s no-hit bid in the sixth inning.
– Keegan McGovern’s moonshot was his second home run of the season, a solo bomb that brought Georgia back within striking distance at 2-1 in the seventh inning.
Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach Scott Stricklin
On the team’s pitching…
“Robert (Tyler) was great. You certainly shouldn’t get a loss when you only gave up one run and they didn’t have a base runner after the first inning. He started a little bit slow, and they were able to scratch a run in the first inning, but after that he was dominant and really good. I thought Sam Vaughn came in and threw the ball really well. Bo Tucker got himself into a little bit of a jam and got himself out of it, which was encouraging. Same thing with Shane Tucker, got himself into a jam and got out of it. Some encouraging things, certainly, from the pitching standpoint and the defensive standpoint, but offensively just not a very good effort tonight.”
On Kevin Hill’s performance…
“First of all, he’s outstanding. He’s as good a guy as we’re going to see all year, and we’re going to see some great ones this year in the SEC. We knew coming in that we were going to see a front-line SEC-type guy. He’s got a chip on his shoulder. He’s a senior that didn’t go in the draft last year, so those guys are dangerous. He’s very athletic, competitive, and has three-plus pitches that he can throw for a strike at any time, and can run his fastball up to 91. We knew we had our work cut out for us, we knew it was probably going to be a low scoring game, but we just have to make adjustments earlier in the game.”
On what the team can learn from the loss…
“What we talked about is making adjustments earlier. We knew what he was going to do. That wasn’t a surprise. The first pitch of the game was a changeup in the dirt that we swung at. We rang the alarm in the dugout. We said, ‘there it is. That’s what we’re going to see,’ and 102 pitches later, we didn’t do much adjusting. We have to adjust better.”
Sophomore OF Keegan McGovern
On the team’s offensive struggles…
“It was us. If we wouldn’t have been swinging at those low pitches we could’ve gotten some more pitches to hit. I think that would’ve helped out a lot.”
On the play of Robert Tyler…
“Whenever he’s up on the hill you know Robert’s going to do what Robert does. As an offense, we have to put together more quality at-bats back-to-back and get him some run support.”
Junior RHP Robert Tyler
On facing another ace on the mound…
“We knew [Kevin Hill] was going to be really good. We knew it was going to be tough to score on him. The biggest thing for us was we knew we weren’t going to change anything. We were going to pitch our strengths against their strengths and go right at them, and he was just on tonight. He had it going.”
On pitching to contact…
“I don’t need to go out and try and shove it down people’s throats. I just need to pitch a little bit every now and then, keep my pitch count down, and let my defense work. We are as solid as they come defensively, so I don’t need to try and do everything out there.”
The Bulldogs are scheduled to face Cincinnati on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Foley Field. The second leg of the Bulldog Invitational double-header will follow the South Alabama vs. Western Kentucky game, which is slated to start at noon.