Baseball: Observations from Georgia’s 15-1 win over Kennesaw State

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Baseball: Observations from Georgia’s 15-1 win over Kennesaw State

Georgia pitcher Garrett Brown (34) during a game against Kennesaw at Foley Field in Athens, Ga., on Tues., Feb. 25, 2020. (Photo by Chamberlain Smith)
Georgia pitcher Garrett Brown (34) during a game against Kennesaw at Foley Field in Athens, Ga., on Tues., Feb. 25, 2020. (Photo by Chamberlain Smith)

Brown’s great outing

After making his season debut last week, redshirt freshman Garrett Brown started off the game strong against Kennesaw State by striking out two-of-three batters in the top half of the first inning. 

Georgia went three-up, three-down in the top of the second as Brown picked up his fourth strikeout by retiring KSU’s Alex Carballo swinging for the final out. 

Brown gave up his first run of the game as KSU’s Tyler Tolve drove in Marcerio Allen on a two-out single. That cut Georgia’s lead to 3-1, but the Bulldogs finished off the inning with a force out at second base. 

With runners on the corners in the fourth, the Owls weren’t able to get anything going as Brown struck out KSU third basemen Ryan Smith swinging. At that point, that strikeout gave Brown his sixth of the game. 

Brown finished the game throwing a career-high eight strikeouts in five innings pitched giving up only one earned run on three hits.

“I wouldn’t expect that, but i’ll take it,” Brown said when asked about his eight strikeouts. “Knowing that they hit fastballs pretty good from the first time, I got my off-speed pitches working a whole lot better tonight.”

This was Brown’s second start against KSU in a week, and he is deemed to be the weekday starter by now.

“I’m hoping to get that Wednesday starting role, but we have a lot of guys that pretty good,” Brown said. “So we will see what happens. Tonight, I feel like my performance really helped.”

Off to a hot start, again

Center fielder Ben Anderson led off the first inning with a single for the Bulldogs before reaching third on an error by Owls’ pitcher Luke Tolbert. Shortstop Cam Shepherd put Georgia up 2-0 with a two-run bomb.

Tucker Bradley went yard the very next at-bat with a solo home run putting Georgia up 3-0. That home run was Bradley’s fourth home run in 31 plate appearances this season, and tied freshman Garrett Blaylock for the team’s lead in that category.

“..I told the guys before the game I was really interested to see how they were going to react today. You got an off day, and Tuesday games after the off day are sometimes difficult,” said Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin when asked about Georgia’s hot start. “To play the way we did Sunday, and to come back was really encouraging to see that.”

Georgia went scoreless in the second, but had a big bottom half of the third inning. 

It all started with Anderson doubling in the leadoff spot picking up his second hit of the day. The very next at-bat Shepherd drew a walk as Tucker Bradley cleared the bases on a double giving Georgia a 5-1 lead. Riley King’s single drove in Bradley to extend the lead to 6-1.

Then, King picked up his first steal of the season advancing to second on a great leap off first. Blaylock drew a walk giving Georgia runners at first and second, but Connor Tate split the gap with a double driving in both baserunners. 

Georgia then led 9-1, but they weren’t done yet as catcher Shane Marshall doubled scoring Tate. In Anderson’s second at-bat of the inning he drew a walk, then Shepherd delivered a three-run home run giving Georgia a commanding 12-1 lead. 

The top part of the lineup really propelled Georgia through that disastrous third inning for Owls.

“Those guys are really good baseball players and really tough outs,” said Stricklin. “A pitcher having to face those guys right out of the bat has a really tough task. Those guys really hit the ball well tonight, and they are keeping it consistent.”

Freshman gain confidence in relief

Stricklin decided to make the switch from Brown to senior RHP Logan Moody at the top of the sixth. After a quick first out, Moody escaped the inning scoreless stranding two runners on base while striking out Alex Carballo. 

Unfortunately, that was all the action Moody got as he was replaced by freshman RHP Brandon Smith in the top of the seventh. Against Santa Clara, Smith threw for two-thirds of an inning giving up two runs in Sunday’s loss. Against the Owls, Smith gave up an infield single to his first batter, but retired the next three, picking up his first career strikeout in the last at-bat. 

In the eighth, another freshman came in as RHP Cain Tatum in relief for Smith. The Winder-Barrow product picked up his first career strikeout as he downed KSU’s Terence Norman swinging to lead off the eighth. Tatum was tested as the Owls loaded the bases, but were unable to score as Ryan Smith hit into a fielder’s choice. Tatum escaped the jam unscathed giving up two hits as the Owls left three total runners on base.

Freshman RHP Michael Polk finished off the game for the Bulldogs in an impressive manner. Polk put away the first guy up on a ground out but walked the next two. KSU’s Joseph Gossett hit into a fielder’s choice forcing an out at third, and Polk shutdown the last batter he faced by striking him out.

Georgia catcher Shane Marhsall (2) during a game against Kennesaw at Foley Field in Athens, Ga., on Tues., Feb. 25, 2020. (Photo by Chamberlain Smith)
Georgia catcher Shane Marhsall (2) during a game against Kennesaw at Foley Field in Athens, Ga., on Tues., Feb. 25, 2020. (Photo by Chamberlain Smith)

Shepherd leading the way

Cam Shepherd only finished the game going 2-for-2, but he led the Bulldogs in a big way.

Shepherd finished the game leading with a team-leading five RBIs. He had that two-run blast in the third driving in Ben Anderson, and then a three-run dinger in the third in his second at-bat of the inning.

During Shepherd’s first at-bat (second overall) of the third, he drew a walk scoring on a Tucker Bradley double.

“I think it helped seeing Kennesaw’s pitchers last week, and for whatever reason I thought it was a little easier to see it today,” said Shepherd. “The fact that we’ve seen (Luke Tolbert) twice, whether his stuff wasn’t as sharp or it was, helped. Seeing a pitcher twice definitely helps a lot.

Through nine games, Shepherd is batting .294 and has ten total hits with 13 RBIs.

“Those guys at the top of the lineup, Ben (Anderson), Cam (Shepherd), really helped me solidify my first career win in a Bulldog uniform tonight,” said Brown. “That third inning really helped my stress levels calm down after only being 3-1 beforehand.”

Here is the video from Scott Stricklin’s post-game interview:


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Currently an intern for BI, and a junior journalism major at the University of Georgia.