After a long 14-inning matchup that lasted well into the night on Friday, the Georgia Bulldogs had a quick turnaround with a noon start against Auburn on Saturday. It was an important matchup for Georgia to come prepared for because the Bulldogs were going for their fourth straight SEC series win.
It seemed like the momentum from late in Friday’s game carried right over as Auburn’s bats came out hot in a 9-7 victory over Georgia. With the rubber match win, the Tigers clinched their first SEC series win of the season, improving to 18-21 (5-16) on the year.
“It’s a gut punch, it hurts,” said Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin. “We didn’t pitch it well enough, we didn’t swing it well enough, we didn’t make plays when we needed to.”
Luke Wagner got the start for the Bulldogs but struggled mightily, only finishing 1.2 innings. Wagner gave up six earned runs in that frame and Georgia found itself trailing 7-0 heading to the bottom of the third inning.
Liam Sullivan provided Georgia’s heavily used bullpen with a lengthy outing. The 6-foot-6 left-handed freshman threw a career-high four innings and added five strikeouts which were a career-high as well. He only surrendered one hit with no runs.
Josh McAllister played in his first game in a week after suffering a hamstring injury last weekend at Missouri. McAllister batted eighth in the lineup and launched a solo home run to left field in addition to getting on base via a walk and a single. Georgia put together a rally in the ninth inning to score three runs. Garett Blaylock even stepped to the plate as the potential winning run but struck out swinging at a ball in the dirt to end the game.
This seemed like a crucial series for Georgia (27-16, 10-11) considering the fact that Auburn had struggled record-wise in conference play. Georgia’s offense never really got into a groove at any point in the series against an Auburn pitching staff that has been very inconsistent this season. Miscues on Friday night now stand out even more with the way Saturday’s finale went.
The upcoming May schedule is a brutal one for UGA. The team will have to make consecutive weekend trips at top-ranked Arkansas and No. 14 Florida before returning home to finish with No. 19 Ole Miss. All of those rankings are provided by d1baseball.com.
Regardless of the results, Georgia’s young players will get a lot of meaningful experience during that stretch. The difficult part is that the Bulldogs are vying for a postseason berth, and consecutive series losses could potentially put that hope in jeopardy. But as shown in Nashville, this team is fully capable of going on the road and beating good teams.
“We know how good we are,” said Georgia catcher Fernando Gonzalez. “I think we’re in a good spot that even if we lost the series, we’re going to come back next weekend and do whatever it takes to win.”