Top-ranked Vanderbilt evened a Southeastern Conference series with No. 23 Georgia Friday, posting a 5-2 win at Hawkins Field.
Fans were treated to a pitching duel between sophomore Jack Leiter, who is projected to be one of the first players selected in the 2021 Major League Baseball Draft, and Bulldog senior Ryan Webb in a game that was 1-1 heading to the eighth. Both pitchers registered 13 strikeouts and neither factored in the decision. The Commodores (25-4, 9-2 SEC) erupted for four two-out runs in that frame while a solo home run by Georgia’s Garrett Blaylock in the ninth provided the final score.
Georgia (19-11, 4-7 SEC) took a 1-0 lead in the fourth. Cole Tate reached on a wild pitch after a strikeout. He moved to second on a walk to Corey Collins. Then on an 0-2 pitch, graduate Riley King lined an RBI-single to center to bring Tate home. It was the first hit of the night for the Bulldogs. A solo home run by Jack Bulger with one out in the sixth tied the contest.
Webb had the finest start of his career, recording a career-high 13 strikeouts in six innings in limiting the No. 1 Commodores to just one run on four hits. He matched Leiter who had his first no-decision of the year after entering with a 7-0 mark and 0.43 ERA. Leiter allowed a run on three hits with three walks and 13 strikeouts over seven innings. Georgia turned to Darryn Pasqua who took care of the seventh and the first two outs of the eighth before allowing three straight hits, the last of which was a run-scoring double by CJ Rodriguez to put the Commodores in front 2-1. Then, the Bulldogs looked to Jack Gowen, and Parker Noland lined a three-run home run to left for a 5-1 lead. Nick Maldonado picked up a win with an inning of relief to move his record to 1-1 while Pasqua fell to 1-2.
The series concludes Saturday with first pitch scheduled for 2:02 p.m. ET on SEC Network+ and can be heard on the Georgia Bulldog Sports Network.
Georgia’s Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach Scott Stricklin
On the game
“I expected it to be a pitcher’s duel. Jack Leiter is really good and Ryan Webb went toe-to-toe with him and was as every bit as good as him tonight. That was really good and really positive to see. They just a couple more two-out hits than we did. They got two on with two outs and strung a few hits together. I thought our kids fought real hard and battled. We had a chance to win in the eighth inning and just didn’t get a two-out hit. It was a really good baseball game. We made a couple errors but those didn’t hurt us. We gave them a couple extra bases but those guys didn’t score. We’re 1-to-1 going into game three with Jonathan Cannon on the mound, and I feel good about that, and we have a chance to win a series tomorrow.”
On Ryan Webb’s start
“That’s what we need. Next week, we’ll see him on Friday night and I think that will give us a little bit of a boost. Ryan won’t have to worry about moving up a day like he did this week. Next week, Ryan Webb can go on Friday night and set the tone for us.”