Sunday’s game was perhaps the biggest game of the year for the Georgia Bulldogs so far. The Bulldogs had an opportunity to win their opening SEC series against a very talented Tennessee Volunteers team, after a nail-biting walk-off win on Saturday. No. 13 Tennessee’s pitching was in full control of the rubber matchup on Sunday, winning 4-1 to clinch the series.
Volunteers starter Blade Tidwell starred on Sunday, throwing 7.1 innings, only giving up four hits and one run. He also added six strikeouts, while only walking two batters. His fastball hit 96 miles per hour, which was his go-to pitch on the day. He used his breaking ball effectively at times too. Most importantly, he never allowed Georgia to build on any momentum.
“I thought Blade [Tidwell] was just really good,” said Georgia coach Scott Daeley. “Obviously, you’d like to get a little more going. But, when he’s got that velocity and he’s mixing a little bit, he’s always on the attack and working ahead in the count. I thought he did a great job and we have to give him a lot of credit.”
On the other side, Jonathan Cannon got the start for Georgia. Cannon had his normal velocity on his pitches but struggled more with his command than he usually has this season. Cannon was still on a pitch count after returning from injury, so he was pulled promptly at 75 pitches.
Cannon allowed three straight singles in the first inning which allowed Tennessee to again take a lead in the opening frame of the game. The Volunteers scored in the top of the first in each game of the series. Cannon was able to work out of multiple jams, but on a day when run support was scarce, it was not sufficient. The sophomore finished with five strikeouts and two earned runs in 3.2 innings. He also picked up his first loss of the season.
“I really didn’t do myself any favors today,” said Cannon. “I just threw way too many balls and just couldn’t get ahead of hitters. That’s something I’m going to need to work on this week. It really just turned into a grind outing… I just didn’t have the outing I was looking to have.”
Georgia scored its only run in the sixth inning after a leadoff triple from Ben Anderson. Cole Tate came up next and hit a scorcher to first, where UT first baseman Luc Lipcius made a tremendous play to make a diving stop and get the out. Anderson scored, but Georgia could not build any momentum again. The Bulldogs were 1-11 (.091) with runners on base on Sunday. Connor Tate was the only Georgia player with multiple hits, he went 3-4.
This would have been a big series win for Georgia considering the team was without head coach Scott Stricklin, they trailed to start every game, and did not have Cannon fully ready to go. However, they at least got the chance to face adversity early in conference play, it could help them in the future as they establish their identity.
The Bulldogs (15-4, 1-2) will have their first mid-week game at Foley Field when they play the Kennesaw State Owls on Tuesday at 5 p.m. Kennesaw State beat Georgia 6-4 on March 3. Georgia will then travel to College Station, TX to face Texas A&M next weekend.
“Once we get over this weekend and get more experience… we’ll settle in,” said Anderson. “Overall, I think everyone was just kinda too hyped, and maybe just trying to be too perfect.”