Baseball: Triple Plays Helps Dawgs Clinch Series Over Tigers

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Baseball: Triple Plays Helps Dawgs Clinch Series Over Tigers

Riley King
Riley King

Fifth-ranked Georgia turned its first triple play since 1963 and went on to post a 5-2 win over No. 21 Missouri to clinch another SEC series Friday at Foley Field.

The Bulldogs (32-8 overall, 12-5 SEC) secured their fifth series win in front of a crowd of 2,962 with an entertaining first inning. The Tigers loaded the bases to start the contest and then Peter Zimmeran launched a ball to right field that Riley King jumped at the wall and caught. King then fired to Patrick Sullivan at first for the second out. On the play, Clayton Peterson tagged up from third. Sullivan tossed it back to pitcher C.J. Smith who threw over to third baseman Aaron Schunk as the Bulldogs believed the runner left early. Peterson was called out, and the call was reviewed and upheld for a triple play.

Georgia rode the momentum into the bottom of the first when junior Tucker Maxwell and sophomore Riley King drew back-to-back walks to lead off the inning. Schunk responded with a double to right field scoring Maxwell, for a 1-0 lead. Senior LJ Talley made it 3-0 with a two-run double to left field scoring King and Schunk. Talley was next to cross the bag giving Georgia a 4-0 advantage when  Sullivan smacked a RBI single to center field.  Missouri (26-14-1, 7-9-1) lifted starter Art Joven (3-1) in the first.

Trailing 4-0,  Missouri sophomore Chad McDaniel led off the second the inning with a single to center. Alex Peters moved McDaniel to second when he drew a two out walk. Senior Paul Gomez’s two-run double made it a 4-2 contest. Georgia got a run back in the second thanks to Tucker Maxwell’s team-leading eighth home run.

Aaron Schunk
Aaron Schunk

Georgia sophomore starter LHP C.J. Smith (3-2) tossed four innings, allowing two runs on six hits with a pair of strikeouts before the Bulldogs went to the bullpen. Freshman Cole Wilcox (1-0) earned his first career win, pitching four scoreless frames with five strikeouts. Schunk collected his 11th save by taking care of the ninth with two strikeouts.

Dawg Tracks

  • Georgia turned its first triple play since 1963 against Florida State.
  • With the 4-0 Georgia lead after the first inning, this marked the 24th time this season that Georgia has scored four runs in an inning.
  • Junior center fielder Tucker Maxwell collected his 8th home run of the season.
  • Freshman RHP Cole Wilcox set a personal best of five strikeouts in four innings.

Coach’s Corner
Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach Scott Stricklin
On the triple play…
“I don’t know if I’ve seen one like that before. Off the bat, I thought it going to be a grand slam, and Riley King makes a great catch against the wall. We throw it in and double up Misner getting back to first base, and then all of the sudden everyone in our dugout was yelling that he left early from third. I didn’t see it. We throw over and get a triple play. It was the first one in 56 years that we’ve had here at Georgia. It’s just crazy. It’s the first one I’ve been a part of. I’ve never seen a triple play live, so it’s pretty rare, and it certainly hasn’t happened like that in the history of baseball right there. That combination was a 9-3-1-5 triple play, but it certainly was big, going from being down 4-0 to back in the dugout with three outs.”

On pitcher Cole Wilcox…
“He was really good tonight, throwing all three pitches for strikes and getting them up to 98 miles an hour. He was working ahead in counts and getting some more swings and misses, and that’s the most important thing we’re seeing as he’s starting to get a little more life in his fastball, and his confidence is rising. Happy for him to get his first collegiate win in there and a lot more great things to come from that guy.”

On the momentum this series win will carry…
“Well, that’s your goal when you come into any weekend, which is to try and win the weekend and win a series. We certainly accomplished that one, so now we have to try and be greedy and try to win tomorrow, getting the sweep. We’ve got a tough task with (TJ) Sikkema, their lefthander, who’s really good. We’ve got Tony Locey, a pretty good one ourselves on the mound, and it’s going to be a battle.”

Cole Wilcox
Cole Wilcox

Player’s Perspective 
Freshman RHP Cole Wilcox
On transitioning into a relief position…
“The biggest thing is that the game has slowed down for me. At first my heart was going and the adrenaline was pumping but I’ve been able to slow myself down. Especially in situations like today where I came in and had two runners on base. The biggest thing for me has just been the opportunity to get back out there and compete. This is the first year that I’ve ever been a reliever so that’s been the largest transition. The guys have really helped me learn the routine and how to not blow it out in the bullpen so I get exhausted on the mound.”

Junior third basemen/pitcher Aaron Schunk
On the offense…
“It was big for us to get the offense going especially after the swing coming from the triple play. That’s the first triple play I’ve ever been a part of but it was also really big for us to get the runs on the board.”

On the fans…
“The Foley Faithful come out and we always play really well in front of them. It’s always fun to come out and compete in front of a crowd because it really boosts the morale.”

Up Next 
Georgia has a chance at a series sweep against No. 21 ranked Missouri Saturday at 12 p.m. (SEC Network+)

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Greg is closing in on 11 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.