KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Senior Jack Gowen retired all 11 batters he faced, and the 22nd ranked Georgia Bulldogs hit three home runs to defeat top-ranked Tennessee 8-3 Saturday in front of a crowd of 4,536 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Saturday marked the first time all season that the Bulldogs entered the final game of an SEC series looking to avoid being swept. In fact, Georgia hadn't been swept since 2019 at then No. 9 Mississippi State.
UT, who clinched the SEC regular season title Friday, came in Saturday with a 33-2 home record this season. But on this day, the Bulldogs would not be denied.
Georgia improved to 33-18 overall, 14-13 in the SEC while the Volunteers dropped to 45-7, 22-5 SEC.
UT started junior fireballer Ben Joyce, who has been clocked as high as 105.5 miles per hour (MPH) this season by the Volunteers. He pitched the first four innings and regularly hit triple digits including touching 104 MPH against Corey Collins. He was staked to a 2-0 lead on an RBI-single by Drew Gilbert and a solo home run by Luc Lipcius.
In the fourth with two outs, graduate Chaney Rogers smashed a 102 MPH fastball to tie the game at 2-all. Sophomore Fernando Gonzalez followed by crushing a 102 MPH fastball to put Georgia in front 3-2. It was the fourth home run of the year for both Bulldogs.
With Georgia leading 3-2 in the fourth, sophomore starter Liam Sullivan was lifted after the first two Volunteers reached on base hits. The Bulldogs turned to sophomore left-hander Jaden Woods. He got ahead of Evan Russell 0-2 in the count but ultimately walked him to load the bases.
Woods battled back to register strikeouts of Christian Moore and Lipcius. However, Cortland Lawson worked a walk to tie the game. Woods got the Bulldogs out of further trouble by striking out Seth Stephenson to send it to the fifth at 3-all.
Woods got the Bulldogs to the sixth before back-to-back walks to start the frame. Lipcius was unable to get a bunt down and eventually struck out.
At that point, Georgia turned to the senior closer Gowen. He would strike out the first two hitters he faced to send it to the seventh.
UT brought in freshman Drew Beam for his first relief appearance of the year. He came in 8-0 with a 2.15 ERA in 12 starts.
Gowen pitched a career-long 3.2 scoreless innings with five strikeouts to move his record to 2-0 while Beam fell to 8-1. He retired Gonzalez and then Georgia loaded the bases on base hits by Corey Collins, Josh McAllister and Buddy Floyd.
UT went back to the bullpen in left-handed closer Redmond Walsh to face the left-handed hitting Anderson. The Bulldog graduate put down a safety squeeze bunt to perfection as Collins raced home to put Georgia in front 4-3. Cole Tate followed with a two-run single to cap a solid weekend at the plate.
With that clutch single, Tate improved to 6-for-10 with 5 RBI in the series. Connor Tate followed with a two-run blast that went 392 feet over the left field wall to complete a five-run outburst for an 8-3 advantage. For Tate, it was his 10th home run this year and 24th of his career.
"We challenged the team last night, challenged them again this morning, and we have a lot of upperclassmen on this team, and they took it personal," said Georgia's Ike Cousins head baseball coach Scott Stricklin. "The goal was to have a chip on our shoulder and really fight today. I thought we really did. Liam battled and got us through three and Jaden was put into a tough situation. He only gave up one run and that was a momentum builder for us.
"And then Jack Gowen comes in and that's the best he's been all year. We had a lot of big hits in this one, Chaney, Fernando and Cole and Connor Tate. It was a really good team win."
Georgia closes out the regular season at Foley Field with four games next week. The Bulldogs will play host to Presbyterian on Tuesday. First pitch will be at 6 p.m., and the game will be available on SEC Network+, and the Georgia Bulldog Sports Network.