In college sports, there is such a thing as a “trap game.” Coming home to face a team that is 8-25, after beating the No. 1 ranked team in the country qualified as a potential trap game for Georgia. However, the momentum from Nashville found its way to Athens, where the Bulldogs kicked off a five-game homestand.
The Bulldogs eliminated the threat of a letdown early, breaking through in the first inning with five runs. Georgia defeated the Georgia State Panthers by a score of 10-7 to move to 21-11 (5-7) on the season.
“We just wanted to keep our foot on the gas pedal,” said Georgia’s Corey Collins. “These mid-week games, we can sometimes go through the motions and I think every team can. So it was really good to see we can come off of a big win like that and still grind it out… we just gotta keep it going from here.”
Ten batters came to the plate in the first inning. Three batters walked and four batters got hits on the way to a five-run inning. First baseman Chaney Rogers, who had been struggling, delivered with the bases loaded on a three-run triple that put Georgia up 4-0 at the time. It was a questionable call to give Rogers the triple on that play, considering the ball hit the right fielder’s glove but it was the same result regardless – runs scored for Georgia.
Both Cole Tate and Collins produced three-hit games, establishing themselves at the top of the order. Collins moved his hitting streak to six games, while also picking up his fourth three-hit game of the season. Collins also made his first start of the season at catcher after being Georgia’s primary designated hitter for all of his previous starts.
The game stalled a bit after that, the later innings dragged on during the almost four-hour game but the Bulldogs did not lose focus until the ninth. Georgia scored four more runs in the seventh inning as a result of staying patient at the plate. The Panthers had to use four pitchers in the inning, who combined to administer five walks and a hit by pitch. Generating walks has not been a strong suit for this Georgia team, so perhaps this can be a jump start in that area.
“I thought we just had a ton of really good at-bats,” said Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin. “Bottom line is the offense is doing really well.”
Georgia again relied heavily on its bullpen, which happens when Ryan Webb and Jonathan Cannon are not starting. Luke Wagner delivered 2.2 successful innings, though he did get charged with one earned run after walking two batters in the third inning. Hank Bearden, Michael Polk and Max DeJong also tossed scoreless frames for Georgia. Brandon Smith pitched in the ninth and gave up four runs without recording an out. It proved to be too little, too late for the Panthers though as Liam Sullivan finally closed the door.
The Bulldogs will now have to face the Kentucky Wildcats, a team that has had an impressive start to the season, for a three-game set over the weekend. This will be a crucial series for UGA, who will have to prove that winning two-of-three against Vanderbilt was not just a fluke performance.
Luckily, Georgia’s bats have come alive lately, scoring nine or more runs in three out of its last four games. Georgia will most likely move Ryan Webb up to be the Friday starter in that series, which could help the bullpen get more rest. Friday night’s game will start at 6 p.m. at Foley Field.
“I think that we’re playing with a little bit more swagger than what we’ve had, and we’ve got to keep that,” said Stricklin.