The Georgia baseball team defeated Georgia State by a score of 10-7 on Tuesday night at Foley Field. The win brings the Bulldogs to 21-11 on the season and gives them momentum as they approach a series against SEC east rivals Kentucky on the weekend. Here are some observations by the Red & Black:
Bulldog bats start quick
Georgia found itself on the board early behind a high-scoring first inning, as all nine Bulldogs got to bat.
Junior Ben Anderson started the bottom of the first with a walk followed by a Cole Tate single to put two men on. With one out and runners on second and third, Connor Tate grounded out to the second baseman, scoring Anderson and moving Cole Tate to third.
With two outs in the inning, the Bulldogs still weren't finished. After a Garrett Blaylock walk, Chaney Rogers hit a deep fly ball to right-center field, where it dropped for a triple, scoring three runs. Georgia was up 5-0 entering the top of the second inning.
Young pitchers thrive behind early lead
Freshman pitcher Luke Wagner started strong with a five-run cushion. Wagner started the game with a strikeout, followed by two straight pop ups. After finding his way through the second inning without a hit, Wagner started the third out with a walk. A two out single scored Georgia State's first run of the contest.
That would be the end of the day for Wagner. He finished with 2 2/3 innings pitched, two strikeouts, three walks and one hit. Freshman Hank Bearden came in to relive Wagner with a four-run lead.
“Coming into a game where we do have a lead it definitely takes a lot of the stress off of the pitchers,” Bearden said. “Anytime you get a lead coming in you know that there’s not gonna be a lot of pressure.”
Bearden had a strong outing as well. After 2 1/3 innings pitched he had given up no hits and struck out one. The score was still 5-1 as another young pitcher, Michael Polk, entered the game in the sixth.
Polk, a sophomore, pitched only one frame, striking out one and forcing two groundouts. The impressive day for Georgia's young core showed just how talented they are and gave a quick look into the Bulldogs’ future.
Patience at the plate pays off
The Bulldogs struggled to plate any runs after the big first inning. From the start of the second inning through the end of the sixth, Georgia racked up eight total hits but only scored one run. Through this run drought, the Bulldogs stranded seven runners on base, including a bases-loaded strikeout to end the sixth inning.
The seventh frame was a different story for Georgia. After two quick outs to start the inning, the Bulldog hitters found the patience to wait for the right pitch. A single by freshman Garrett Spikes put the first runner on followed by six straight free bases for Georgia.
Anderson was the first to walk followed by Cole Tate to load the bases. Corey Collins and Connor Tate both drew walks of their own scoring two runs before Blaylock was hit by a pitch to score another. After a pitching change, freshman Josh Stinson drew yet another walk plating the Bulldogs’ fourth run of the inning.
Georgia would finish the seventh with a 10-2 lead. Collins and his teammates came into the game with a new mentality and it was working.
“The approach at the plate, really just grinding it out, not really chasing bad pitches and hitting good ones, that's the biggest thing,” Collins said. “If you can win more pitches than they do then you're gonna win the game.”
The Panthers were not done yet. A three-run home run in the top of the ninth was part of a five-run push that would fall just short. Georgia would win the game 10-7.
The Bulldogs will be back in action this weekend as they take on Kentucky in a three-game series at Foley Field. Game 1 of the SEC showdown starts Friday evening at 6 p.m.