Georgia and Missouri split an SEC doubleheader Saturday at Taylor Stadium with the Bulldogs taking game one 7-4, and the Tigers posting a 5-0 shutout in game two.
Friday’s series opener was postponed due to rain, forcing a twinbill Saturday. In game one, Bulldog freshman Kevin Smith pitched three scoreless innings of relief and freshman catcher Michael Curry blasted two home runs to lead Georgia to a 7-4 victory.
Smith improved to 5-1 with his second win this week, striking out five and allowing just one hit over the final three frames. This past Tuesday in Athens, he pitched three scoreless innings in a combined shutout of Western Carolina. Curry leads the team and is second in the Southeastern Conference with 10 home runs. Curry has hit four home runs over a three-game span. Sophomore Mitchell Webb drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh to break a 4-4 tie. Tiger reliever Cole Bartlett surrendered three runs on four hits in two innings to fall to 3-5.
Bulldog junior right-hander Robert Tyler and Tiger sophomore right-hander Tanner Houck started for their respective clubs and both got a no decision. Tyler went six innings and allowed four runs on five hits with four walks and seven strikeouts. Houck gave the Tigers five innings and was touched for three runs (one earned) on four hits with three walks and four strikeouts. The Bulldogs struck for the three runs in the first, and the Tigers got three RBI from Shane Benes to tie it by the fourth.
In game two, Georgia junior left-hander Connor Jones and Missouri senior right-hander Reggie McClain were locked in a pitcher’s duel. Both starters had allowed just one hit with seven strikeouts through the first five frames. Tiger centerfielder Jake Ring connected for a solo home run with two outs in the sixth for a 1-0 advantage. Then in the eighth inning, senior first baseman Zach Lavy smashed the Tigers’ first grand slam since 2010 for the final. The frame started with a Bulldog miscue, a single and a walk to load the bases. The loss snapped Georgia’s modest three-game winning streak.
McClain went the distance, scattering three hits with one walk and a career-high 12 strikeouts to improve to 5-3. Jones fell to 5-6, allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings.
“I thought we played really well in game one; we battled and got some clutch hits,” Georgia coach Scott Stricklin said. “Robert (Tyler) didn’t have his best stuff, but he hung in there and then Kevin Smith came in and was lights out. I thought Connor Jones was the best he’s been all year, and they just hit a couple of balls that got out of the park. We weren’t very good at the plate in game two, and Connor deserved a better fate. Reggie (McClain) was very good; he threw a lot of strikes and had a good change up.
“Overall, we split the day and against two of the better pitchers in the league, and they rank at the top of the league in innings pitched. Now, we’ve got senior Heath Holder pitching Sunday with a chance to win a road series, and our bullpen will be fresh and ready to go.”
The rubber game of the series will be on Sunday with first pitch slated for 2:04 p.m. ET. Georgia is 25-26 overall, 9-17 in the SEC while the Tigers are 25-26 (8-18 SEC).