The No. 23 Georgia Bulldogs defeated top-ranked Vanderbilt 9-1 Saturday for their first SEC series win over a No. 1 team since 1993.
Sophomore Jonathan Cannon provided a career-performance to lead the Bulldogs (20-11, 5-7 SEC) who were the last team to beat Vanderbilt in a series dating back to 2019 when the Commodores went on to win a national title. Cannon provided seven shutout innings, allowing five hits, no walks and struck out nine to even his record at 2-2.
Vanderbilt, who came into the series on a nine-game winning streak, dropped to 25-5 overall, 9-3 SEC.
In 1993, the Bulldogs swept top-ranked Mississippi State at Foley Field. Today marked the highest ranked team Georgia has defeated in a road series in available records going back to at least 1993. The previous best was taking an SEC series 2-1 at No. 3 Miss. State in 2006.
Georgia took a 1-0 lead in the second. Connor Tate led off with a base hit to extend his on base streak to 11 games. Riley King would move him to second with a sacrifice bunt. With two outs, freshman Parks Harber came through with an RBI-single. In the fourth, freshman Corey Collins drew a leadoff walk. On a 2-0 count, Connor Tate blasted his third home run of the series, his sixth in SEC action and eighth overall, to make it 3-0. That would end Patrick Reilly’s outing. Garrett Blaylock greeted Sam Hliboki with a double to right and King followed with an RBI-single to extend the Bulldogs lead to 4-0. Blaylock owns a career-best eight-game hitting streak.
In the fifth, the Commodores put a pair of runners in scoring position with one out and Cannon came back with a couple of strikeouts to maintain a 4-0 edge. In the eighth, Georgia extended its lead to 6-0 on back-to-back doubles by Tate and Blaylock. The Commodores avoided a shutout with an RBI-double from Carter Young in the bottom of that inning. In the ninth, Georgia would tack on three more runs on an RBI-double from Ben Anderson and RBI-singles from Cole Tate and Corey Collins to make it 9-1. Freshman Jaden Woods pitched the final two frames for the Bulldogs. Vanderbilt starter Patrick Reilly fell to 3-1, allowing three runs on three hits in three innings.
Coming into the series, Vanderbilt’s 1-2 punch of Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter were a combined 14-0 in 14 starts with an 0.64 ERA. Well, the Bulldogs beat Rocker and the Commodores 14-2 in the series opener, scoring six runs off him, and Leiter got a no decision as senior Ryan Webb matched him as both struck out 13 and allowed just a run in a 5-2 loss to Vanderbilt Friday. Georgia set the tone early Saturday and cruised to the series-clincher behind Cannon and the Bulldog offense who tallied nine runs on 11 hits off the Commodores.
Georgia returns to Foley Field for a five-game home stand starting Tuesday against Georgia State. First pitch is scheduled for 5:02 p.m. ET on SEC Network+ and can be heard on the Georgia Bulldog Sports Network.
Georgia’s Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach Scott Stricklin
On the series win
“We were out in right field Tuesday after we lost a heartbreaker to Georgia Southern, and we didn’t even talk about that game. We looked at this series and turning the page. We wanted to come in here and be ready to fight and battle and do everything we can do to win this series. We had a chance to win all three. I thought Ryan Webb and Jonathan Cannon did exactly what we said we needed them to do. We challenged them last week to step up and carry this team and they were unbelievable this weekend.”
On Jonathan Cannon’s start Saturday
“He had command of all three of his pitches and the last pitch of the game was 94. We talked about taking him out after the sixth inning, and I told Coach Kenney let’s see what he says when he comes in the dugout. I asked him if he was ok, and he said ‘heck yeah, coach.’ That’s the answer you want, and he went out there for the seventh. He was outstanding and gave us the momentum. The fifth inning with two on, and he gets two strikeouts and that drained their momentum.”