With the UGA baseball team chasing Tennessee in the SEC standings, (21-30,8-18) Georgia earned a vital SEC win against the (33-18,17-9) No. 9 Mississippi State Bulldogs by a score of 4-1 on Saturday afternoon at Foley Field.
Georgia earned most of its base runners with two outs and they made Mississippi State pay for these base runners in a three-run bottom of the third. Michael Curry and Keegan McGovern earned back-to-back, two-out walks and Mitchell Webb was able to bring one run in with a double down the left field line. With runners on second and third with two outs, LJ Talley singled to center field which brought in both runners to score and gave Georgia a lead that they would not lose.
The Bulldogs would add on an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th as Tucker Bradley earned an infield single, which would bring home Talley to score. Bradley extended his hitting streak to 11 games and he has played a huge role in Georgia’s offensive success as of late.
Georgia was able to hang on to their three-run lead because of the absolutely outstanding pitching that was delivered by starter Kevin Smith on what happens to be his birthday. Smith pitched seven innings of scoreless baseball and only allowed three hits and four walks while also totaling six strikeouts. Smith’s walk numbers are less than stellar, but his ability to work out of tough situations and keep runs off the board was absolutely crucial in the outcome of the game.
Zac Kristofak pitched out of a tough bases loaded jam in the 8th inning and only allowed one run to come across to score. Kristofak would go on to pitch a flawless ninth to close out the game and earn his second save on the year.
Georgia also did a fantastic job of limiting mistakes as they had one error on the day that ended up leading to the lone run that Mississippi State scored but was not enough to overturn the rest of the team’s outstanding play. However, Mississippi State had two critical mistakes that could have played a role in changing the game’s outcome.
Their first mistake was the main one that may have cost them and it came when Elijah MacNamee hit what looked to be a home run. However, left fielder Keegan McGovern knocked the ball back into play on an attempt to catch the ball and MacNamee passed the runner who was on first base and was ruled out. Mississippi State could have runners on first and second with no outs, but instead had a runner on second with an out and Georgia’s Smith was able to work out of the jam.
Although Georgia only had four hits on the day, they can attribute this win to their patience at the plate as they earned eleven walks and they did a good job of working the count and forcing Mississippi State to make good pitches. As a team, this was an overall solid performance and if Georgia can keep this up, then they should be able to walk away from this series with two pivotal SEC wins.
Smith will pass the ball on to another birthday boy as Chase Adkins will pitch on his birthday for Georgia in the rubber match of their series against Mississippi State on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at Foley Field.
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