The 13th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs bounced back to defeat the 15th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks, 6-5, in nine innings in the second game of the series on Saturday afternoon at Jack Turner Stadium.
Senior Alley Cutting started at pitcher for the Bulldogs and worked six innings. During her time in the circle, Cutting struck out five, walked six and allowed four runs on seven hits. Senior Mary Wilson Avant entered in relief in the top of the seventh inning. With the game going into extras, Avant (10-4) pitched three innings, striking out seven, walking none and allowing one run on one hit, though it was an unearned run.
Senior Ciara Bryan ignited the Georgia offense, going 2-of-3 at the plate, including a pair of home runs in her first two at-bats and a single in the final inning. It was the first multi-home run game for the senior. Freshman Sara Mosley recorded the Bulldogs’ third home run of the day, a two-run shot over the centerfield wall. Bryan and Mosley’s two RBI apiece led the way, with sophomore Lacey Fincher tacking on an RBI of her own. Freshman Sydney Kuma and junior Jessica Morgan each recorded a hit. In total, Georgia plated six runs on eight hits.
Bryan set the tone at the plate for the Bulldogs (21-5, 1-1) with a lead-off home run over the right-center wall to grab the early 1-0 advantage in the bottom of the opening frame.
Though South Carolina loaded the bases in the top of the second, Cutting was able to work herself out of a jam to keep South Carolina scoreless through two innings.
The Gamecocks got on the board with a two-run shot over the left field wall in the top of the third inning to take the 2-1 lead.
Bryan answered with her second bomb of the day to knot the game two-all in the bottom of the third.
A two-out, bases-loaded double play by Georgia in the top of the fourth denied the Gamecocks another run.
The Bulldogs’ bats came alive in the bottom of the sixth, plating three runs to grab the 5-2 lead. Kuma drew a two-out walk and Fincher drove her home with an RBI double, plating the go-ahead run. On the ensuing at-bat, Mosley drilled a two-run home run deep over the center field wall to score both her and Fincher and extend Georgia’s lead to 5-2.
In the top of the seventh, the Gamecocks rallied on two outs with a three-run double to left field to tie the game yet again, this time at five-all. The Bulldogs were unable to produce in the bottom of the seventh, sending the game into extra innings.
Avant retired the side, three-up, three-down in the top of the eighth. Though Georgia loaded the bases, they were unable to capitalize, forcing a ninth inning.
Avant produced another three-up, three-down inning to send the contest into the bottom of the ninth. In the bottom of the frame, junior Tyler Armistead drew a walk and advanced to second off a single from Bryan. A passed ball advanced both runners into scoring position. A chopper off the bat of Landrum was picked up by the pitcher and a rundown was started between third and home. An errant throw by the third baseman got away from the catcher, allowing Armistead to score and clinch the victory for Georgia, 6-5.
The series will be decided tomorrow, Sunday, March 8 at 2 p.m. when the Bulldogs and Gamecocks face off at Jack Turner Stadium.
Georgia Head Coach Lu Harris-Champer On your overall thoughts on the game…“I thought that Alley was awesome in the game today just dealing with her pitches and then for Mary to come in and close was just beautiful as well. They are both spinning the ball very well and I was proud of their effort. And then I thought Ciara, the way she started us off in the game with back-to-back bombs, I was really proud of her for learning from the day before. I thought Mosley had some huge at-bats as a freshman for us today. Up and down the line up we got stuff here and we got stuff there. I was proud of our team for the fight and the grit because that is what it takes to win. You have to gut it out.”
Junior Lacey Fincher On the up and down game and what the approach was a team to get it going offensively… “We play a game called 10-minute hustle. You get three pitches and you hit and keep running until ten minutes is up. I feel like we went up there with that process and that mindset. Go up there and get after it, fight for your teammates. It doesn’t matter where the pitch is thrown, just give it your best.”
On how the pitchers motivate the offense…“It motivates us a lot. Mary [Wilson Avant] is such a good pitcher not just in terms of her actual pitches but in connecting with us and keeping us calm as we keep her calm.”