NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C.— The No. 18 Georgia Bulldogs defeated eighth-ranked Clemson 6-3 Tuesday in front of a crowd of 5,801 at the newly constructed SRP Park.
The Tigers hit a pair of home runs to take a 3-0 lead in the second, however, the Bulldogs responded with five runs in the top of the third to take the lead that would not get relinquished. Georgia improved to 24-9 overall with its fourth ranked win of the year. The Tigers dropped to 25-8 on the season.
Tigers’ designated hitter Robert Jolly led off the second with a base hit and left fielder Drew Wharton followed with his fifth home run of the season. Then with two outs, second baseman Jordan Greene connected for his fourth home run, a solo shot that ended Tony Locey’s planned two-inning start. Junior left-hander Kevin Smith came on and pitched the next 3.1 scoreless innings with five strikeouts for the eventual win and improve his record 5-1.
Georgia answered in the third, scoring five runs on three hits including a three-run home run by junior designated hitter Michael Curry. Ivan Johnson led off with a base hit, Tucker Maxwell drew a walk and Tucker Bradley’s bunt single loaded the bases. Cam Shepherd picked up an RBI on a walk and Aaron Schunk provided a sacrifice fly before Curry’s big blast off Tiger reliever Travis Marr that put Georgia in front 5-3. It was Curry’s seventh home run of the year and 28th of his career.
Bulldog senior Blake Cairnes started the sixth inning and recorded two outs and left with a runner at second as Georgia looked to junior Adam Goodman and he secured the final out of the frame. Georgia sophomore Zac Kristofak started the seventh and after allowing a leadoff single, he struck out the side and took care of the eighth. Also in the eighth, Georgia made a couple of defensive substitutions as Patrick Sullivan came in at first base and C.J. Smith went to right field. After a leadoff walk, Smith ran down a ball hit into the gap for the first out and then Georgia turned a double play to maintain a three-run edge.
In the top of the eighth, Georgia added an unearned run as LJ Talley drew a walk, took second on a passed ball, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout by Mason Meadows.
Sophomore third baseman/closer Aaron Schunk pitched the ninth for his fifth save of the year. Collectively, the five Bulldogs that entered from the bullpen put up a stat line of 7.1 scoreless innings with four hits, two walks, and 10 strikeouts.
“Guys performed really well, they made plays, bullpen was outstanding, and (Michael) Curry with the big home run,” said Georgia’s Ike Cousins head baseball coach Scott Stricklin. “This was Clemson’s home game, big crowd, and all around we did well. Clemson is a good team and they will be ready for us next week when they come to Athens. We got some big outs. We made a lot of moves and played great defensively. We’ve been lights out defensively since the Charleston trip. All-around, we are pleased with how we played.
Georgia returns home to begin a three-game series with 11th-ranked Kentucky (22-10, 5-7 SEC) Friday. First pitch at Foley Field will be at 7:02 pm on SECN+ and the Bulldog Sports Network from IMG.