With runners on the corners and one out in the 10th inning, senior Daniel Nicholsdrove a pitch to the wall in left to give the Bulldogs (4-2) their first walk-off win of the season with a 7-6 triumph over Cincinnati (0-5) on Saturday night at Foley Field.
The walk-off winner came after Georgia saw what was at one point a 5-1 lead turn into a 6-5 deficit in the eighth inning, but the home squad battled to tie the game and force extra baseball.
Early in the game, Heath Holder dominated on the mound with a career-best nine strikeouts in just four innings of work, and Andrew Gist (1-0) carried the load out of the bullpen with 4.2 innings of work after the game was tied at five. The newcomer got his first win as a Bulldog in the contest.
Adam Sasser launched his first career home run as part of the early offensive spurt for the home squad.
It didn’t take long for the Bulldogs to grab the lead, following the lead of Stephen Wrenn whose two-out double to right started a four-hit string that plated two runs for the home squad. RBI in that stretch went to Keegan McGovern, his seventh of the season, and Mike Bell, his first, as Georgia led 2-0 after one.
Cincinnati got one back in the third, taking advantage of a misplayed chopper with two outs that skipped to the outfield, allowing a runner to score from second to cut the lead in half.
The Bulldogs pushed the lead to 5-1 in the fourth inning, sparked by Sasser’s homer off the top of the fence in left-center. Logan Moody’s RBI double followed two batters later, and Wrenn singled to drive in the third run of the frame.
The visitors tied the game in the sixth, using two doubles as part of a four-run rally while needing only one out in the frame to tie the ballgame. Andrew Gist entered with a runner on second and was able to keep the game tied.
After Cincinnati jumped on top in the eighth with a two-out RBI single, Georgia evened the game in the bottom of the frame with some two-out lightning of its own as three consecutive hitters reached to tie the game.
Georgia had runners on the corners with one out in the bottom of the ninth but was unable to push a run across, forcing extra innings. The Bulldogs found themselves in the same situation in the 10th, withSkyler Weber on third and McGovern on first, and Nichols hit a liner to the wall in left for the walkoff win.
– Heath Holder set a new career high with nine strikeouts in four innings, including a span of four consecutive outs being Ks in the first and second innings.
– Andrew Gist earned his first win as a Bulldog with 4.2 innings, three hits, four strikeouts, and just one earned run on the mound.
– Keegan McGovern added to his team-leading RBI count, as first and eighth-inning RBI singles gave him eight RBI on the year.
– Stephen Wrenn tied his career high with three hits in the game, the eighth time he’s done that in his career.
– Michael Curry improved to 2-for-2 on the year as a pinch hitter with a home run against Mercer and a single on Saturday.
– The extra-inning contest was Georgia’s third in six games this season, and it was the second win for the Bulldogs in those games.
Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach Scott Stricklin
On the game…
“It had a lot of adversity tonight, and we were able to overcome it. That’s the biggest thing. We had a 5-1 lead and we were cruising along, and next thing you know we’re losing 6-5. Our guys hung in there. We had some really good at-bats in the eighth, ninth and 10th innings. Offense came alive today. (We had) 15 hits, scored some runs. I thought Heath Holder had a good start, ran out of gas a little bit when the pitch count got up there. Andrew Gist was the story. He gave us a chance to win that game because he kept putting up zeros on that board. All in all, good win. We found a way to win. When you can overcome some adversity to win it’s even better.”
On the walk-off hit…
“We thought they might intentionally walk him. Loading the bases there is tricky too, because now you don’t have anywhere to put anyone. The biggest thing was to make sure he had a good at-bat and seeing the ball up, because they pitched to him hoping he would swing at a low pitch. The one that he fouled off, that was the pitch they wanted him to swing at. That’s the thing – make sure you get a good pitch in the zone that you can do something with, and he did a really good job of getting the right pitch to do the job with.”
On the impact of newcomers on the game…
“These guys have made an impact right away from the second they walked on campus. I saw the young guys make an impact, and our older guys saw the talent and they pushed the old guys. It’s been really good to get the competition among our team. They play hard, they’re loose, they’re young and don’t know any better. They’re playing really well right now, and it’s fun to make some moves. We’re pretty close to full strength right now and we’re finally able to make some moves and pinch hit for guys and pinch run for some guys and things like that. It’s a lot more fun to manage a game when you’ve got options.”
Jr. C Skyler Weber
On added pressure in extra innings…
“My biggest thing is not thinking about it, thinking less at the plate, and treating it just like [batting practice]. I just imagine Coach Stricklin up there throwing BP. When moments get big like that, people a lot of times get tensed up. The biggest thing to succeed, you just have to stay loose.”
On the offensive performance…
“The pitching has been outstanding. It’s us hitters that are the weak link right now for our team. To be honest, we aren’t even a weak link. We’re facing adversity. Every team goes through it. We’re six games into the season, so we have a bright future.”
Sr. DH Daniel Nichols
On Cincinnati’s decision to intentionally walk McGovern…
“Keegan is swinging the bat really well right now, so I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t have done that. They made the right decision right there. I’m struggling right now, I had a bad two weeks. I’m struggling, but I came through tonight and put a good swing on the ball.”
On his mental approach to his final at-bat…
“Well I was actually glad they intentionally walked him. I wanted my last chance to redeem myself. I had three strikeouts tonight. I knew going in that I was going to be fine, I was going to see the ball deep and drive it the other way.”
Georgia will face Western Kentucky (4-1) in the Bulldog Invitational finale, slated to start at 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Follow the Dawgs
For all the latest on Georgia baseball, follow the team on Twitter (@baseballuga), Instagram (@baseballuga) and on Facebook (Georgia Bulldogs Baseball), and keep checking in to georgiadogs.com.