There was not much that was normal about Georgia’s Friday night game against Auburn. For starters, the game lasted four-and-half hours, which was nearly double the amount of time that Thursday’s 4-0 win took. Also, it is rare to see runs being traded at the same pace multiple times in extra innings, but the UGA just would not quit.
The Bulldogs (27-15, 10-10) were in prime position at times on Friday night to clinch the series against Auburn and set up a potential Saturday sweep. However, they failed to take advantage of some crucial opportunities earlier in the game which proved to be costly in a 10-6 loss to Auburn in 14 innings.
“I’d say it’s probably more Auburn making good pitches,” said Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin. “Sometimes when you get up with runners in scoring position, you try to do a little bit too much and you squeeze the bat a little tighter. It does happen, but I thought we had opportunities to score some runs… we just didn’t execute.”
For example, in the bottom of the 10th inning, Georgia had runners on first and second after back-to-back walks from leadoff hitter Ben Anderson and Cole Tate. Garrett Blaylock failed to successfully put down a bunt and eventually struck out. That brought Connor Tate to the plate, who has been Georgia’s best hitter this year.
Tate hit into a very uncharacteristic 5-4-3 double play to promptly end the inning and scoring threat for Georgia. It’s the type of situation that every UGA fan would want but as Stricklin mentioned it came down to failed execution on Friday night. The Bulldogs ended up leaving nine runners on base and failed to bring in runs in multiple two-on, no-out situations.
Grit and toughness were shown at times on Friday night though with the way Georgia evened two extra-innings deficits. In the bottom of the 12th inning, Ben Anderson hit just his third home run of the year to tie the game at five. Georgia then took advantage of a throwing error in the 13th to tie the game at six. A four-run Auburn 14th inning highlighted by two home runs was far too much to overcome though.
It spoiled two very nice pitching performances by starter Jonathan Cannon and lefty reliever Jaden Woods. Cannon gave the Bulldogs seven strong innings, limiting Auburn’s offensive firepower to just three runs. Woods took over in the eighth inning and gave Georgia 4.2 innings, four of which were scoreless. Stricklin said he would have liked for Woods to get the win.
Luckily for Georgia, it will have a quick turnaround since Saturday’s rubber matchup is scheduled for noon. The challenge for tomorrow will be managing a bullpen that was used frequently on Friday night. However, the Bulldogs should be plenty motivated to win their fourth SEC series in a row.
“There will be no excuses tomorrow, you can’t say you’re tired because the other team is in the same position,” said Stricklin. “We’ve got to find a way to win a series at home. That’s always the goal.”