It’s been an unusual start to the season for Georgia starting left-handed pitcher Ryan Webb. Before the season, he tested positive for COVID forcing him to miss the opening series of the year against Evansville. At times this season, he’s stepped up to be the ace of the staff. Other times he has struggled with some of his pitches.
Webb pitched one of his best games of the year on Friday night though. Unfortunately, he did not receive much help in Georgia’s 6-1 loss to Kentucky in the opening game of a three-game series. Georgia could not string together enough offense and the bullpen was not as sharp as usual.
Webb tossed 6.2 innings on 103 pitches, which was his longest start of the year, giving up five hits and two earned runs. He also totaled eight strikeouts while only walking one batter. His command was off at times; his fastball got hit hard on a few at-bats. But most importantly he gave Georgia’s bullpen the opportunity for some rest.
“When you’re not at your best and you still can go through and give up two earned runs in an SEC game, he deserved better than that,” said Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin on Webb’s performance. “I thought he pitched really well and I think that just shows you how good he is.”
“Just one of those days where my fastball command just wasn’t like it normally is,” said Webb. “I felt really good with my slider and my changeup tonight. I think that they bailed me out a little bit, my defense played great behind me.”
When looking at the final score, one might think that Georgia’s offense was non-existent on Friday night. That was far from the case of reality. Georgia tallied 11 hits but also managed to leave 11 runners on base, failing to put it together when needed.
In the fourth inning, Georgia had runners on first and second with no outs following singles from Garrett Blaylock and Connor Tate. Two Bulldog batters struck out and then a fly out ended the inning with no runs. Credit should go to Kentucky’s starter, Cole Stupp. Stupp threw eight innings with eight strikeouts while giving up ten of those eleven hits. The “bend but don’t break” mentality could apply to his performance.
“Not good enough,” said Stricklin on Georgia’s offensive performance. “We had some chances and we didn’t get the hits when they really mattered. We got some guys on base and we put some pressure on them…. I thought [Stupp] had a really good night on the mound.”
Georgia will now have to focus on not losing the momentum and “swagger” that it accumulated in the previous four games. One way to do that could be a change at the top of the order. Ben Anderson usually leads off and plays center field. However, after an 0-5 night his batting average now drops to .193. Stricklin said a change there is a possibility, especially since Josh McAllister has returned from injury.
Most Georgia fans will be tuned into G-Day on Saturday, but game two of this series will be a crucial one for the Bulldogs, who fell to 21-12 (5-8). The first pitch is set for 7 p.m. with Jonathan Cannon on the mound.
“You never want to lose on your own field,” said Blaylock. “You never want to lose in general, but at your own field… it stings a little bit more.”