On Senior Day Saturday, seventh-ranked Georgia closed out the regular season with a series sweep of Alabama, defeating the Tide 9-1 for its school-record 21st Southeastern Conference win.
Since the SEC went to a30-game schedule, the Bulldogs (42-14 overall, 21-9 SEC) had never won more than 20 conference games, going 20-10 in 2001 and 20-9-1 in 2008. Those teams claimed the SEC title while the Bulldogs this season will only be a top four seed in the upcoming SEC Tournament. The 2001 and 2008 squad eventually advanced to the College World Series.
On Saturday, behind sophomore right-handed pitcher Emerson Hancock followed by junior Justin Glover and senior Adam Goodman, Georgia held Alabama to only one run on eight hits. Hancock improved to 8-2 on the season, going seven innings, allowing one run on six hits. He tallied 10 strikeouts with no walks. Glover entered in the top of the eighth only to throw a quick nine pitches before retiring the side. Goodman pitched a brilliant ninth inning to close out the victory.
Alabama took a 1-0 lead in the first on three hits capped by an RBI-single from T.J. Reeves. That would be all that the Bulldog pitching staff would allow. The Bulldogs countered in the bottom of the third with a RBI single from Georgia second baseman LJ Talley, plating right fielder Chaney Rogers. Georgia continued in the bottom of the third as designated hitter John Cable (3-for-5, 4 RBI) picked up an RBI to score left fielder Riley King.
Junior first baseman Patrick Sullivan batted leadoff in the bottom of the fourth and smashed a solo home run to give the Bulldogs a 3-1 advantage.
After the Bulldogs loaded the bases, junior third baseman Aaron Schunk hit in sophomore catcher Mason Meadows to continue the scoring in the fourth. Meadows, in the bottom of the fifth, then smacked a RBI triple down the third base line, the first of his career, bringing in Sullivan and giving the Bulldogs a four-run lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, Cable slugged a home run to deep right field that brought in Talley, giving the Bulldogs a 7-1 lead. The very next inning, Cable batted in Schunk for his fourth RBI of the game. Two batters later, Sullivan scored Talley with a RBI single to right field, and the Bulldogs extended their lead to 9-1.
*In the bottom of the first, Aaron Schunk notched his first hit of the game, extending his hitting streak to 12 games
*In the third inning LJ Talley hit a RBI single to right field to stretch his hitting streak to 10 games.
*John Cable’s two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh marked his seventh homer of the season. He tied his career high with four RBI for the third time this year.
* Emerson Hancock finished the day allowing only one run, which was the ninth time of his 12 starts that he has allowed one run or fewer and finished with double digit strikeouts for the fourth time this year.
Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach Scott Stricklin
On having 21 wins in the SEC…
“Yeah I’m really proud of this group. It’s a really good team. We’ve had a lot of adversity with injuries all year long, and they’ve just overcome it. We’ve got a lot of depth and talent on this team, and the guys just kind of pick each other up. Emerson Hancock knocked the rust off last week, and he was outstanding today. And all the seniors, Talley and Cable were unbelievable at the plate and Adam Goodman got to shut it down in the ninth. So I’m just proud of this team and proud of these seniors.”
On their deep offense and Connor Tate’s hit…
“It was great to see Connor get up there and get another pinch hit at bat and get a base hit because we’re going to need him. We’re going to need everyone. You know Randon Jernigan can really run, he’s a great defender, and does a lot of things offensively as well. You’ve got Cole Tate who can play defense, Shane Marshall played really well last night behind the plate. So we just kind of extended our roster just because of the injuries. We didn’t wanna do that. We didn’t do it on purpose, but when guys went down everyone stepped up and we just kept getting better and better.”
On what they’re expecting in the next couple of weeks…
“Well I told the guys out in right field it just gets tougher from here on. Everyone we play is going to be really, really good, and now the pressure goes up when you play in a tournament atmosphere and there’s a lot more on the line. The good thing about it is our guys have already been through that. There are so many guys were on the team last year, and we hosted a regional. Unfortunately we didn’t get out of it, but that experience will help us this year. You can’t teach experience, but have that on this team. We certainly have a lot of talent and depth. Now we just have to keep playing the way we’re playing and we have a chance to advance.”
On consistency in hitting…
“Hits are contagious. It’s always good having guys in the top of the lineup that can spark some stuff. Having guys in the top of the lineup to lead off with hits trickles down and you come into the dugout and you’re like, ‘I can hit this guy too.’ That’s just how it’s been the last couple of weeks.”
On RHP Emerson Hancock…
“He’s a dude, and he’s been a dude since he got here. He’s going to continue to do big things. He’s going to be a big guy next year in the draft, and we are all really proud of him and excited to see all that he does.”
Georgia travels to Hoover Alabama for the SEC Tournament as a top-four seed and will get a first-round bye Georgia will play on Wednesday with the time and opponent TBA.