The UGA Baseball team led by shortstop Cam Shepherd earned their first victory of the season against Georgia Southern by a score of 22-9, which set an Opening day record for runs.
The Bulldogs resilient effort on the night made way for an outstanding six-run fifth inning that gave them their first lead after trailing for the majority of the night. They entered the inning trailing the Eagles by a score of 7-2 and Georgia Southern starting pitcher Brian Eichhorn was cruising. However, Cam Shepherds two-run double would lead to Eichhorn’s night coming to an end and the Eagles pitching staff struggled from here on out.
Shepherd would score from second on a passed ball and this sequence would be followed by a groundout by Michael Curry, which gave the Eagles two outs in the inning. The following sequence for the Eagles was dismal as it went as follows: walk, pitching change, walk, hit by pitch, pitching change, walk (runner scores), single (two runners score), and a groundout to end the inning. The Bulldogs would take that one-run lead and not look back as they only would add to the margin. Coach Stricklin went in depth on the Bulldogs ability to cash in on the opposition’s mistakes.
“We call them freebies. It’s a walk, hit by pitch, an error, passed ball, wild pitch, those are free bases,” said Stricklin. “Whoever wins the freebie award is most likely going to win the game and we were able to do that.”
The Bulldogs followed up their big 5th inning with an impressive three-run sixth inning, six-run seventh inning, and a five-run eighth inning that would give them enough insurance runs to put the game away and set an opening day record. Cam Shepherd was definitely the star on the night for the Bulldogs as he finished 4-4 with three RBIs and three runs, with an error as his only mistake on the night.
Michael Curry also had an outstanding night as he hit a monster grand slam to right center to help extend the Bulldogs lead. Curry finished his night 3-5 with five RBIs and two runs scored. The 3-4 hole of Shepherd and Curry accounted around half of the Bulldogs runs and should be a potent combination for the team moving forward.
The main issue for the Eagles was their inability to find the strike zone and the number of free bases they gave up after they replaced their starting pitcher. After Eichhorn was replaced, the Eagles pitching staff issued nine walks, one hit batsmen, one balk, two wild pitches, and one passed ball.
Although Bulldogs starter Kevin Smith struggled as he gave up six runs, the Bulldogs relief pitching was a huge contributor to the Bulldogs victory as they only allowed three runs, four hits, and no walks. Their ability to shut down the Eagles offense definitely helped the Bulldogs offense in this dominating performance.
The Bulldogs will face the Eagles in the second game of the series on Saturday at 1 p.m. with Georgia freshman Emerson Hancock facing Seth Shuman.