Top-ranked Arkansas edged Georgia 3-0 Friday in front of a season-high crowd of 7,645 at Baum-Walker Stadium.
The start of the game was delayed for 90 minutes due to severe weather. When it began, both starting pitchers were overpowering through the first three frames. Bulldog freshman Liam Sullivan, who was making his first career start, and junior Patrick Wicklander combined for 11 strikeouts in the early going. Ultimately, Sullivan provided six strong innings of one-run ball with a career-high 11 strikeouts but fell to 1-1..
The Razorbacks (35-8, 16-6 SEC) managed to take a 1-0 lead with back-to-back doubles from Robert Moore and Casey Opitz in the second. Georgia’s Cole Tate and Garrett Blaylock registered singles in the fourth before Wicklander got out of the jam. Georgia (27-17, 10-12 SEC) posted a leadoff single in the second, third, fourth and fifth frames but came up empty, stranding nine men on base on the night. Bulldog senior first baseman Chaney Rogers posted a career-high 4-for-4 night.
Sullivan gave Georgia a chance against the No. 1 ranked squad that led the nation with 76 home runs. His performance included and “Immaculate Inning,” in the fifth when he threw nine pitches, all for strikes, to give him 10 strikeouts for the contest. With two outs in the sixth, Tate lined a double to left field and Arkansas lifted Wicklander in favor of left-hander Caden Monke to face the left-handed hitting Corey Collins. He got him swinging to end the threat. In the sixth, Georgia put two on with two out and ace reliever Kevin Kopps kept it a 1-0 contest by retiring Josh McAllister. Wicklander improved to 4-1 while Kopps pitched the final three frames for his seventh save.
In the seventh, the Razorbacks loaded the bases to start the frame and Georgia escaped unscathed as Jack Gowen got a pair of pop outs and then retired Christian Franklin at home trying to score on a wild pitch. In the eighth, the Razorbacks loaded the bases again with one out. After a strikeout, Moore delivered a check-swing bloop double that scored a pair to extend their lead to 3-0.
Game two of the Arkansas series will be Saturday at 7:02 p.m. ET. The contest will be available 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…
“We had first and second with Connor Tate at the plate and then the call on the check-swing goes against us. I am biased, and it swung the count. That’s just the way it goes. Bottom line, they were just a little better than us tonight. We knew our work was cut out for us especially when (Kevin) Kopps came in. He’s arguably the best closer in college baseball. We still got a lot of base hits tonight, and Ben Anderson hit one on the screws there at the end.”
On pitcher Liam Sullivan’s performance
“He was so good tonight. The scoreboard may have been juiced a little bit. He was 94-95 according to that scoreboard. Wicklander is 92-93-94 normally, and he was sitting 93-95. Sully (Sullivan) was really good, and certainly he has a week ahead of him to work hard and get ready for next weekend. We’re really excited about his future. We saw some good things last week against Auburn. He gave us a chance to win in that game, and he deserved a chance to go out there tonight.”
#14 Liam Sullivan | LHP, Fr.
On his first career start…
“I felt good. My main goal was to throw strikes and give us a chance to win a game. I felt really good in the bullpen. Every pitch I threw felt like I could get someone out with and I just continued that into the game.”
On his Immaculate Inning
“I noticed it when I was walking off the mound, and I realized I did it. That’s something nice to do, but it’s really not that big of a deal.”