Eight-seed Georgia baseball dropped its game against five-seed Ole Miss 4-0 on Thursday afternoon at Hoover Met Stadium in Hoover, Alabama. The Bulldogs were eliminated from the SEC Tournament after back-to-back losses. Here are some observations from The Red & Black:
A tale of two starts for McDaniel
Georgia faced Ole Miss starter Drew McDaniel for the second time in a week after the Bulldogs torched the pitcher for six hits and five runs against him on May 22.
McDaniel pitched a much different game against the Bulldogs his second time around, not allowing a single run while only surrendering three hits on 98 pitches. He also recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings of work.
“McDaniel was really good,” said Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin. “He scuffled against us on Saturday but had a bounce-back performance. His velocity was up, the breaking ball was sharper and his command was really good.”
Ole Miss found run support for McDaniel in the form of a solo home run by Kevin Graham that ended up as the difference in the game.
Georgia struck out at the plate 38 times over its three-day run in Hoover while only scoring 6 runs, which was not a welcome sign for a team fighting to make its way into the NCAA Tournament.
“We faced a lot of good pitching, but we didn’t have a very good approach overall on offense,” Stricklin said. “We have to find a way to get better.”
The Rebels would later produce a run on a double from Jacob Gonzalez in the bottom of the third, as well as two more runs in the fifth after a Bulldogs error scored Justin Bench and a single from Peyton Chatagnier drove in Gonzalez.
Cannon comes on in relief
Redshirt sophomore Jonathan Cannon came in to relieve Liam Sullivan in the bottom of the fourth inning after Sullivan allowed a run in two straight innings.
Cannon has normally been a starter for the Bulldogs this season but had experience from last season as a reliever.
“It was a little different, I couldn’t go through my normal routine that I would if I were to start the game,” Cannon said. “I was able to relieve a lot last year so it wasn’t something that was foreign to me.”
Cannon would run into trouble in the fifth inning, allowing two runs to cross the plate, but afterward, he settled in, finishing the game for the Bulldogs with only those two runs given up on three hits and five strikeouts after five innings of work.
“I was just trying to minimize the damage and keep us in the game,” Cannon said.
Bulldogs’ fate still to be decided
With the loss, Georgia now has to wait until Monday to find out it has earned an NCAA Tournament berth.
“We think we deserve [a bid],” said right fielder Riley King. “The past two games haven’t been us. We’ve been gritty all year, but it’s in the hands of the [selection] committee so we just have to wait until Monday to see.”
The Bulldogs came into Hoover needing a solid week to improve their chances of earning a tournament bid but were eliminated with a 1-2 record. However, their one win of the SEC Tournament came against LSU, which sits in a similar position to Georgia — on the bubble.
Georgia touts the 15th hardest schedule in the nation and ranks 40th in the RPI, per D1 Baseball. Both are key ranking components in the committee’s selection process.
“14 wins in [the SEC] is a big deal,” Stricklin said. “The last two days weren’t pretty but with our full body of work, we deserve to be in.”
Stricklin and the Bulldogs will watch their fate unfold together as a team on Monday as the NCAA Tournament selection show will air at 12 p.m. on ESPN2.