A walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth inning from Ciara Bryan helped the No. 14-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (41-17) defeat the No. 25-ranked Drake Bulldogs (42-15). The 6-4 victory advanced Georgia to the next round of the NCAA Minneapolis Regional on Saturday afternoon.
Bryan and Justice Milz led the way on offense, producing two hits and a home run each. Alyssa DiCarlo also chipped in with a home run of her own, while the rest of the Bulldog hitters managed two hits.
DiCarlo’s home run marked the 22nd of the season for the senior and the 67th of her career, tying her for second all-time in the SEC.
Kylie Bass started in the circle for Georgia. In four innings of action, the senior allowed four hits and four runs while only striking out one hitter.
Mary Wilson Avant relieved Bass in the fifth inning and found a lot more success. The junior maintained a shutout in the final four innings, allowing one hit and striking out four batters. Head coach Lu Harris-Champer said she was proud of Avant coming in and shutting everything down when the team needed her too, especially because of Drake’s impressive ability to manufacture runs.
Going into the bottom of the seventh inning down one run, the Bulldogs' chances of coming back were swiftly dwindling away. Harris-Champer knew the fight that the team brought to SEC games would be imperative in these close postseason games.
“[Our team] had a little pow wow the inning before that to try and get it together, and they really did,” Harris-Champer said. “Again, when you’re facing a team that good, you have to just stay calm and stay present and enjoy the opportunity to keep playing.”
With two outs left in the seventh, Milz hit her home run to push the game to extra innings. Then, Bryan locked up the victory for Georgia with the home run to center field, her 11th of the season.