Georgia baseball fell 11-2 to first-seed Arkansas in the second round of the SEC Tournament on Wednesday night at Hoover Met Stadium in Hoover, Alabama. Georgia will continue the SEC Tournament against Ole Miss on Thursday, with first pitch slated for 2 p.m. Here are some observations from The Red & Black:
Georgia gives up free bases
Between 14 walks given up by Georgia’s pitching staff and an additional three errors on defense, the Bulldogs gave up a number of bases that Arkansas, the 2021 SEC regular-season champions, produced on.
“We’ve had some struggles with some walks, especially with our young guys, and we threw a lot of young guys tonight,” said head coach Scott Stricklin. “When you play Arkansas, you’ve got to play really clean baseball. We didn’t do that.”
Redshirt freshman Charlie Goldstein started on the mound for the Bulldogs. He forced a three-up, three-down first inning with two strikeouts but did not maintain success in the second.
Goldstein walked two Arkansas batters in a row and allowed a double to give the Razorbacks the 1-0 lead before being replaced by Michael Polk.
Polk allowed five more to score off of three more walks and two more hits before forcing a pop-out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the second, Arkansas was able to produce three of its six runs on two Georgia errors and one walk.
Again in the bottom of the fifth inning, freshman reliever Hank Bearden allowed two more Arkansas runners on base by walks that eventually scored.
Georgia’s five pitchers issued 14 total walks and allowed only seven hits for 11 total runs scored from the Razorbacks.
“[The walks] have been a pretty big issue and it's something we need to work on,” said reliever Max DeJong. “We need to pound the zone.”
Silence at the plate
With two outs in the seventh inning, Arkansas starting pitcher Lael Lockhart had thrown a perfect game against Georgia. One more out would have left the Razorbacks leading by 10 runs through seven innings, forcing the game’s end on a run-rule.
Josh McAllister stepped to the plate with the intent of ending the perfect game and did just that with a single to third base.
“I was struggling, and it was nice to get on base for the first time this tournament,” McAllister said.
As Lockhart was visibly frustrated with the hit, Corey Collins hit his eighth home run of the season to avoid the run-rule and put the first two Bulldog runs of the night on the board.
Prior to McAllister, Georgia had not seen a baserunner in the game. Redshirt freshman had the only other Georgia hit with a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth.
“That’s not who we are,” Stricklin said. “We’ve been a tough and gritty team all year long, and in those five first innings, I didn’t even recognize that team.”
Georgia also employed 17 different batters on the night. Stricklin attributed the number of batters to sending a message to his team.
“I wanted to send the message, ‘Hey, we need to compete. There are guys over here that want to play,’” Stricklin said. “Bottom line we weren’t playing very well and needed to make a couple changes and maybe light some fires.”
Continuing in SEC Tournament
With Wednesday’s loss, Georgia will face off against Ole Miss on Thursday at approximately 2 p.m.
Ole Miss fell to Vanderbilt 5-4 on Wednesday night, leaving both Georgia and the Rebels with a single loss in the tournament.
Georgia lost two of the three games in its series versus Ole Miss in the regular season over the past weekend at Foley Field.
Another Bulldogs loss in the SEC Tournament will be their second loss in a double-elimination format and send them back to Athens. Despite a messy loss on Wednesday, Georgia players are positive about the future.
“We definitely didn’t play our best baseball tonight … it's time to clean up,” McAllister said. “We’ve done it all year, we’re a bounce-back team. Hopefully [on Thursday] we will come out and play our best baseball.”