Emerson Hancock has a chance to be a top pick in this year’s MLB Draft, and he pitched like it today.
Coming off a rocky start last week against Richmond, Hancock proved why he is one of the best pitchers in the country today as the Bulldogs blanked the Santa Clara Broncos, 9-0.
Hancock played his way through seven innings of shutout work allowing just two hits with zero walks and eight strikeouts.
“I just wanted to attack,” Hancock said. “Those guys are free-swingers, so I knew if I could mix in my slider and command my fastball to either side, with this defense behind me, we’d have a chance to make some plays.”
Last week against Richmond, Hancock allowed six runs in four innings on Opening Day.
Today, the Broncos didn’t have a fighting chance.
“I came in this one a little mad, to be honest with you,” Hancock said. “I told myself I was going to use the frustration from last week and use it on the mound (Friday). I came in with a little more focus, a little more concentration, and told myself if I just attacked the zone, I’d be OK.”
Both the Broncos hits came in the first inning. After that, Hancock dominated until he was pulled. During one point in the game, he retired 12 straight hitters until a Riley King error ruined that streak.
Hancock said today that he got to work in all four pitches in his arsenal all with positive results. In a battle against Broncos’ catcher Toney Benetto, Hancock fell behind 3-1 before he threw a nice 96-mph fastball that froze the batter. He ended the at-bat with a 95-mph pitch that Benetto whiffed at.
“We were joking in the dugout earlier. We saw him do a little shimmy in the third or fourth inning, and we said OK, he’s on, it’s go-time,” outfielder Tucker Bradley said. “After that, I think he had six strikeouts. It’s fun to watch, being behind that guy.”
Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin was happy for his ace after the rough start last week.
“On a cold day like today, if you’re throwing 96 on the inside part of the plate, the hitters have to get their hands going to start the bat, and that’s why that slider was so good. It hurts when it’s 96 on your hands,” Stricklin said. “They had to cheat a little bit to try and get to it, and he was throwing that slider at any time, and it was really tough to hit.”
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the third when the Bulldogs struck first.
In the third, Georgia (5-0) took a 1-0 lead on a bases-loaded infield single by Tucker Bradley (3-for-4, 3 RBI). It extended Bradley’s hitting streak to five games. The Bulldogs took advantage of three walks in the frame as Mason Meadows and Chaney Rogers reached with one out and then Cam Shepherd drew a two-out walk to load the bases.
In the sixth, Georgia jumped ahead 3-0 on a solo home run by Bradley and a two-out RBI-single by Patrick Sullivan that gave him a five-game hitting streak. Bradley is now batting .588 for the year with nine RBI.
Georgia broke open the game with a five-run seventh. Shepherd picked up an RBI on a sacrifice fly, Bradley’s RBI-single gave him three for the afternoon while Riley King, Connor Tate, and Meadows drew bases-loaded walks to make it 8-0. Freshman Buddy Floyd’s RBI-single capped the scoring in the eighth. Senior Logan Moody provided two scoreless innings of relief after coming in for Hancock.
Georgia and Santa Clara will play a doubleheader tomorrow starting at 1 p.m., and the other game following that after a 45-minute break. Cole Wilcox (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will be the starter in game one, and the game two starter hasn’t been announced yet.
In Sunday’s final game, regular rotation guy C.J. Smith will make the start for the Bulldogs.
“We’ve got four or five options. We’ve got (Will) Childers, we’ve got (Jonathan) Cannon, we’ve got (Michael) Polk, we’ve got (Daryn) Pasqua, all those guys we can choose from,” Stricklin said. “We’ll talk once we get in the coaches’ office and figure out what we’re going to do, but we feel like we’ve got a lot of options.”
Here is the video from Scott Stricklin’s interview: