There was increased energy inside Foley Field for Georgia’s mid-week matchup against in-state rival Georgia Tech. Following another SEC series win against Missouri, Georgia looked to build on that momentum with Hank Bearden on the mound as an “opener.”
Georgia Tech jumped all over Bearden to take a 3-0 lead on the way to a 7-5 win over the Bulldogs. Georgia (26-14) climbed back into the game inning by inning, but could not produce enough offense to get over the early hump.
Losses to Georgia Tech always end up hurting a little more for Georgia. UGA players and coaches acknowledged after the game that there is a certain sense of familiarity between the two programs. Many of the players on both sides have grown up playing against each other in high school or travel ball.
“When you lose it stings,” said Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin. “We’ve had a lot of success in this rivalry in the last few years, but they got us in the first one. We get them in a couple more weeks over in Atlanta.”
Walks proved costly for Georgia’s pitching staff on Tuesday night. This issue was prevalent early on in the season but had been corrected for the most part as of late. Bulldogs’ pitchers allowed 10 walks, starting from the first batter of the game. Double-digit walks are rarely a recipe for success.
Georgia Tech’s Luke Waddell and Tres Gonzalez worked back-to-back walks to begin the game. After that, Justyn-Henry Malloy showed why he was put in the cleanup spot as he launched a three-run home run into the trees in left field. That gave the Yellow Jackets a 3-0 lead, which they never lost.
Georgia’s bats were not silent, but they did not break out the way fans have often seen in the last few weeks. One bright spot though has been the increased offensive success from first baseman Chaney Rogers. Stricklin has often praised Rogers for his defensive play, but his bat has come alive in the last four games.
Rogers has hit safely in seven of his last 12 at-bats. He tripled to start the bottom of the third inning and later scored Georgia’s first run on an RBI groundout by Parks Harber. Rogers later doubled with a man on to set up a two-RBI double for Harber.
“Last weekend against Missouri, he carried the offense for us,” said Harber on Rogers’ recent performance. “It’s definitely fun to watch, especially because he hits right in front of me. It’s my job to get him in because he’s doing his job to get on base.”
Georgia will have a quick turnaround since the home series against Auburn is a Thursday-through-Saturday series. Auburn is only 3-15 in SEC play, so the Bulldogs should have a fair opportunity to bounce back with some wins this weekend. UGA will have to wait until May 18 for its rematch against Georgia Tech (20-16) in Atlanta.