The UGA baseball team took part in a hard-fought pitching battle against the UAB Blazers that ultimately ended in a 2-1 loss in extra innings.
After the Bulldogs tied the game up in the bottom of the 9th, it seemed as if they would have the momentum going into extra innings, but the Blazers struck quickly. UAB left fielder Riley McCown hit a double to center field, which was originally called a home run, but later changed after a replay review. McCown was able to score after a bloop single from catcher Stephen Dobbs and that ended up being enough to give the Blazers the victory
The story of tonight’s game was dominant pitching which both pitching staffs delivered until the conclusion of the game. Blazers’ starting pitcher Garrett Whitlock and Bulldogs’ starting pitcher Kevin Smith were, for the most part, unhittable and it looked as if it was going to come down to one of the two making a mistake.
Smith made that minor mistake in the beginning of the 6th as he gave up a leadoff double to Blazers’ right fielder Luke Eigsti. After Eigsti’s initial hit, he advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt from second baseman Tyler Tolbert and then scored on a single from Blazers’ center fielder Brewer Hicklen. The Blazers would threaten to add on more runs in the sixth, but Smith was able to get out of the situation with only one run allowed.
Although he did not earn the victory, Smith had an outstanding night on the mound. Smith pitched 6 1/3 and only surrendered four hits during his time on the mound. He also did not give up a walk and struck out 6 batters in his start. This is the type of start that Smith and Ike Cousins’ head coach Scott Stricklin can be proud of, but the Bulldogs will need the offense to step it up if they hope to turn starts like this into wins.
Whitlock was even more dominant in his start as he had a perfect game through the first 6 2/3 innings. Whitlock got close to earning his second consecutive complete-game shutout of the year, but he gave up a lone run to the Bulldogs in the bottom of the 9th when Cam Shepherd hit a single to right field scoring Tucker Bradley and tying the game at one. Whitlock’s night would come to an end after giving up the run, but he was definitely the most outstanding player on the diamond as he finished with 5 strikeouts while only giving up 1 run, 1 walk, and 3 hits through 8 1/3.
Since both pitchers had outstanding nights, the bats of the Bulldogs and the Blazers both suffered. The Blazers finished with 2 runs on 6 hits while the Bulldogs finished with 1 run on 4 hits. Both offenses will need more production if they hope to earn wins in the final two games of this series.
The Bulldogs will face the Blazers in the second game of the series at 1 p.m. on March 4th.