The No. 4 ranked Georgia baseball team hosted its second NCAA regional in as many years and it ended in similar fashion. The Bulldogs fell in the regional final to Florida State, 10-1, after losing to Duke in the final the year prior.
“It is the same feeling, being back here,” junior Zac Kristofak said. “If you don’t play your best in this tournament, you aren’t going to win, and we just found that out the hard way again."
Georgia showed glimpses of a championship winning team throughout the weekend, but their offense struggled to find runs and played a large part in their undoing on Sunday night.
Friday, May 31
Georgia started their weekend with a dominant 13-3 win over in-state opponent, Mercer. Tony Locey started on the mound for the Bulldogs and did not disappoint. The junior went five scoreless innings and struck out seven before making way for Logan Moody, who pitched two frames and finished with three strikeouts. Darryn Pasqua finished out the game for the Bulldogs with two scoreless innings.
Tucker Maxwell led the way on offense for the Bulldogs, totaling three hits and six RBIs, tying a career high. LJ Talley also managed a three-hit performance and Aaron Schunk provided two home runs and five RBIs to ensure a Georgia victory.
Saturday, June 1
FSU provided the first big battle for the Bulldogs over the course of the weekend, and the Seminoles were able to control the game on both sides, winning 12-3.
CJ Van Eyk had a quality outing on the mound for FSU, striking out nine Bulldogs in his eight innings of action. Despite scattering nine hits, Georgia couldn’t score nearly as many runs as they needed, leaving five runners on base and hitting into three double plays.
Georgia's standout pitcher, Emerson Hancock, had an uncharacteristic performance against the Seminoles, allowing five runs in four innings. The FSU hitters were able to get ahead in the count against Hancock and put the Bulldogs in tough situations. Ryan Webb came to pitch in relief in the fifth inning and gave up another five runs, essentially putting the game out of reach.
Georgia was forced into an elimination game against Florida Atlantic University on Sunday and a chance to play FSU again in the regional final.
Sunday, June 2
To start the day, Georgia had an encouraging performance against FAU, winning 13-0 to advance to the regional final.
Tim Elliott was excellent for the Bulldogs, pitching the complete nine innings, striking out eight batters and allowing only two hits.
The Bulldog offense brought a similar explosiveness as the game against Mercer two days prior. Schunk delivered another multi-home run performance and finished with six RBIs. Cam Shepherd and Talley had three hits each and redshirt freshman Conor Tate added a three-run home run to give the Bulldogs crucial runs in a must-win game.
The win brought them to the regional final, but the Seminoles came out with another stellar performance and eliminated Georgia with a 10-1 victory.
After Van Eyk on Saturday, Conor Grady was the key for the Seminole pitching staff on Sunday night, going seven innings and allowing one run. Graduate student John Cable said Grady had the Bulldog batters “off balance” all night.
Despite falling short of an NCAA Super Regional berth, three Bulldogs were named to the Athens Regional All-Tournament Team. Schunk and Maxwell were honored for their impressive offensive production over the weekend, while Elliott was named because of his shutdown performance on Sunday afternoon.
Head coach Scott Stricklin said it’s a painful end to the season, but was optimistic for the future and looks to continually raise the expectation levels for Georgia baseball.
“It is painful, but this is a resilient group,” Stricklin said. “We will bounce back and we will have a lot of guys back. We will continue to be a great program.”