The Georgia Bulldogs clinched the series over the South Carolina Gamecocks with an 11-3 run-rule victory in five innings of play on Sunday afternoon at Jack Turner Stadium.
Junior Lauren Mathis (7-0) was granted the start in the circle for the Bulldogs (22-5, 2-1), her first appearance in the series. Mathis worked three innings, striking out four, walking one and allowing three runs on three hits. Senior Mary Wilson Avant entered in relief for the second game in the row. Avant pitched two innings, recording two strikeouts and allowed one hit but no runs.
Georgia’s bats were hot from the get-go in Sunday’s matchup, up and down the lineup. Senior Mahlena O’Neal knocked Georgia’s sole home run of the day and her second of the season. Four Bulldogs recorded a team-high two RBI including seniors O’Neal and Ciara Bryan, sophomore Lacey Fincher and freshman Sara Mosley. Junior Mackenzie Puckett and sophomore Savana Sikes each tacked on an RBI apiece. Sophomore CJ Landrum and O’Neal produced 2-for-3 performances at the plate. In total, Georgia tallied 11 runs on nine hits.
Bryan drew a lead-off walk and advanced to second on a passed ball in the first. After an 11-pitch at-bat, Fincher plugged the right field gap to reach first and plate Bryan, giving Georgia the early 1-0 advantage. On the ensuing at bat, Mosley drilled one down the left-field line to reach second, while Fincher beat the throw home to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to two.
Landrum continued the momentum at the plate for Georgia, leading off the bottom of the second with a single to left-center. She stole second and advanced into scoring position on a passed ball. O’Neal came up big with her second home run of the season, a two-run shot over the left-center wall to widen the gap to 4-0. Following the home run, Sikes reached base on a single to shortstop. A chopper off the bat of Bryan resulted in both a fielding error and a throwing error from South Carolina, putting runners on the corners. Kuma and Fincher drew back-to-back walks to score an additional run and keep the bases loaded for Mosley. Driving in her second run of the day, Mosley executed a sacrifice fly to right field to score Bryan. Puckett tacked on the fifth run for Georgia in the bottom of the second with an RBI groundout and the Bulldogs entered the third with the 7-0 advantage.
South Carolina (15-6, 1-2) answered the Bulldogs’ explosive inning with a lead-off home run to get on the board. Though the Bulldogs were able to load the bases in the bottom of the frame, they were unable to capitalize.
The Gamecocks continued to chip away at their deficit, blasting a two-run home run over the left-field wall to trail by five, 7-3, in the top of the fourth. Avant then entered in relief and denied South Carolina another run throughout the contest.
Though the score remained 7-3 through the top of the fifth, the Bulldogs produced another explosive inning in the bottom of the frame to run-rule the Gamecocks. It was again Landrum who got things going for Georgia, reaching on a single to left field. She used her speed to steal second again and advanced to third on a throwing error from the catcher. O’Neal drew a walk and junior Jacqui Switzer, in at pinch-runner, stole second to put both runners in scoring position. Sikes plated Landrum with an RBI single to left field and advanced to second on the throw to keep both runners in scoring position. Bryan continued to dominate at the plate, blasting a stand-up triple off the left-center wall to drive in both Sikes and Switzer. The game-winner came down to base running for the second game in a row when Bryan used her speed to score on a wild pitch and clinch both the 11-3 run-rule victory and the series for Georgia.
Up next, the Bulldogs will host the Furman Paladins for a midweek doubleheader Wednesday, March 11. The first game Is slated to begin at 3:30 at Jack Turner Stadium. The second game will begin immediately after.