Mahlena O’Neal (11) looks for signs from the head coach before approaching the plate. The University of Georgia Bulldogs take on the University of Massachusetts Minutewomen on Feb. 23, 2019 as part of the Georgia Classic at the Jack Turner Stadium in Athens, Georgia. The Bulldogs defeat the Minutewomen 4-0. (Photo/Daniela Rico)

After falling 11-4 in game one of the highly-ranked series, No. 12-ranked Georgia failed to knot the series at one apiece against No. 8-ranked LSU on Saturday.

The Bulldogs struggled to put runs on the board after an early spurt, and they paid for it. Associate head coach Tony Baldwin said it was a game of adjustments after the early runs and the Tigers had the better of the Bulldogs in that regard, beating Georgia 6-4.

Lauren Mathis started in the circle for the Bulldogs and found herself in a difficult situation early in the first inning with runners on second and third and one out. Mathis answered by striking out Shemiah Sanchez and then forced Elysie Thornhill into a groundout to end the scoring threat.

Then in the bottom half of the inning, Mahlena O’Neal's three-run shot brought the Georgia fans to their feet.

Mathis continued to deal some impressive pitches in the second inning, striking out two Tigers. Shelbi Sunseri responded with a couple good pitches of her own, including painting the corner to strike out Alysen Febrey for the third out, much to the dismay of the Georgia fans.

The crowd played a large part in the game, with both sides yelling about calls from the umpires, arguing with each other and raucously cheering for their team.

“The crowd was great. Always fun being here at The Jack and seeing all the Bulldog fans out here, I thought they were really supportive at the end of the game,” Baldwin said. “I think our players really felt their presence, which is always fun.”

Mathis found herself in another tough situation in the top of the third with runners on the corners and one out. This time, she couldn’t get out of the jam and Shelbi Sunseri turned from pitcher into a home-run hitter and tied the game at three with a three-run shot off the scoreboard.

At that point, head coach Lu Harris-Champer came out to calm Mathis down, but that was to no avail. The next batter was walked and then Thornhill hit a two-run home run into the trees in right-center field. That ended Mathis’ day and Alley Cutting came in to shut the door on any more LSU runs in the third.

“I thought my drop ball was on today, and throwing a little rise ball,” Cutting said. “Just going out there to compete every pitch, every play. It’s what we do.”

It was a rather quiet, defensive game after the flurry of runs from LSU in the third, with Cutting and Sunseri providing a fair share of easy plays for both defenses in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

The bottom of the sixth inning saw the Bulldogs make a push for some runs. Lacey Fincher and O’Neal led off with two singles and forced a meeting at the circle and ended Shelbi Sunseri’s day. The new pitcher, Maribeth Gorsuch weathered the storm for the Tigers and retired the next three batters, bringing it to the seventh inning.

Alley Cutting came back out in the seventh and LSU tacked on another run after a 14-pitch marathon at-bat for Amber Serrett which led to a sac-fly. The Bulldogs went into the bottom of the seventh down 6-3.

The Bulldogs were in desperation mode. They loaded the bases for Lacey Fincher, who came through with a single up the middle and scored one. With the pressure of the crowd on her back, Gorsuch came up clutch again, striking out Mahlena O’Neal and brought it to two outs for Savana Sikes. LSU survived the pressure as Sikes popped out to the third baseman and ended the game.

The loss brought Georgia’s losing streak to four games and their overall record to 25-8. The Tigers clinched the season series over the Bulldogs, but there were some positives to be taken away from the game.

“We just gotta keep fighting. That one stings because it’s a winnable game, it’s right there in the balance,” Baldwin added. “We just didn’t come through in a couple of the opportunities that we had and that’s life in the SEC.”

The Tigers clinched the season series over the Bulldogs, but there were some positives to be taken away from the game. Baldwin was impressed with Cutting’s performance and her ability to come in and calm the Bulldogs down and gave them a chance to win.

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