Despite defeating Tennessee in the first two games, Georgia couldn’t hold on to sweep the Volunteers. Game three went 10 innings and Tennessee edged Georgia 6-5. The Bulldogs had a five-run comeback in the bottom of the ninth, but couldn’t capitalize in the final inning. Georgia improves to 30-14 overall and 12-9 on the season.
Tennessee wasted no time getting on the scoreboard benefiting from an unearned run in the opening inning. First baseman Pete Derkay laced a double down the left field line. That hit scored Justin Ammons, staking Volunteer starter Will Neely to an early lead.
The Volunteers added on to their lead in the third inning when center fielder Brodie Leftridge smashed a bases-clearing double. Leftridge’s hit was off Bulldog starter, Ryan Webb who went three innings allowing three earned runs on three hits. The Volunteer lead was extended to 5-0 in fourth on a clean single by leadoff Jay Charleston against Georgia reliever Kevin Smith.
After scoring 20 runs combined in the first two games, Georgia’s offense found their footing in the sixth inning. A double by Curry down the left field line scored Keegan McGovern and Cam Shepherd. Then a two-out RBI single by Adam Sasser cut the Tennessee lead to 5-3. Kevin Smith, Adam Goodman, Zac Kristofak, Tony Locey and Aaron Schunk all turned in solid performances on the mound limiting the Tennessee offense to just two runs in seven innings of relief.
Georgia made it a one-run game in the eighth inning using a leadoff double by McGovern and an RBI groundout by Schunk bringing the game to 5-4.
Down to their final out in the ninth inning the Bulldogs miraculously manufactured a run without a hit. Pinch-hitter Mitchell Webb was hit by Tennessee reliever Garrett Crochet and pinch run for by Ivan Johnson. With Tucker Bradley at the plate, Johnson swiped second base and dashed all the way home on a throwing error by Tennessee catcher Benito Santiago who fired the throw to second into center field. The Volunteers quickly made up for their mistake in the top of the tenth inning using a walk and a single by right fielder Justin Ammons to retake the lead.
Georgia was unable to push across a tying run in the tenth inning off of Crochet. He pitched 4.1 innings in relief, falling 6-5 in the series finale.
“I didn’t think we played very well the first five innings,” head coach Scott Stricklin said. “That’s what we said as a group, we brought everyone together and said let’s win these four innings and see what happens. I thought innings six through ten we played our tails off but we came up short. But when it’s 5-0 in the sixth and you force extra innings you got a lot of fight in you.”
The Bulldogs continue SEC play next weekend on the road in Columbia Missouri against the Missouri Tigers. First pitch of game one is Thursday at 7 p.m.