Heavy rain in Athens, Georgia on Friday led to Georgia’s four-game series with Garner-Webb being altered to a quicker three-game series. Georgia won game one of Saturday’s doubleheader on a walk-off home run from utility infielder Josh McAllister and then followed up on that momentum to win game two in pitcher Ryan Webb’s first start of the season. It took until Sunday for Georgia’s offense to fully breakout though.
Georgia beat Gardner-Webb 17-3 to sweep the three-game set at Foley Field. 17 runs became a season-high for the home Bulldogs, who homered four times and scored more runs on Sunday than both of Saturday’s games combined, where they scored eight runs. Georgia scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, breaking the game open on home runs from Chaney Rogers and Garrett Blaylock. Blaylock hit two bombs on the day, one of which hit the top of the scoreboard in right field. The Bulldogs finished with 19 hits and left seven runners on base.
“Up until this point offensively, it’s kind of been a let down in games and we’re not operating at our full potential,” said Blaylock. “I think we had really good at-bats throughout the whole weekend, but I think today specifically, it really clicked for us.”
Right fielder Connor Tate had a career-high five hits in five plate appearances. He ended up driving in five runs and improved his batting average to .559 on the season. He also became the first Bulldog to go 5-5 since John Cable in 2019. His twin, Cole Tate was pulled from the lineup after the first inning with a tweaked lower-body injury. Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin described it as “really minor.” McAllister also added three hits, which led to a homer and three RBIs.
Freshman Jaden Woods got the start on the mound and completed four strong innings. Woods mainly threw strikes, allowing his defense to work for him. Woods tallied three strikeouts and two walks, while also allowing three hits. He allowed two earned runs, pushing his ERA to 5.19. Liam Sullivan then relieved Woods, fanning five batters in two innings. Sullivan did not allow a run and earned the win. Hank Bearden, Shane Marshall and Nolan Crisp also pitched for Georgia on Sunday.
“I thought he was really good early, up to 94 [miles per hour],” said Stricklin on Woods’ performances. “It’s also not a bad thing to see these guys struggle a little bit, because they have to fight their way out of it. Nothing wrong with having a little adversity… that can be good for these freshmen to help them grow up.”
Georgia was able to get at-bats for a bunch of its young freshmen towards the end of the game as well. Players like Josh Stinson and Garrett Spikes got their first career RBIs in the game. The Bulldogs now improve to 7-1 on the season, going a perfect 4-0 this past week.
Establishing an offensive identity to go along with a pitching staff that has not allowed more than five runs in a game will be crucial. If Georgia can do that, as they did on Sunday, the Bulldogs should be ranked by most polls soon.
Next, Georgia will travel to Kennesaw State to face the Owls for a single game, before coming back to Athens for a three-game series with North Florida.