Five-run eighth secures decisive win for Georgia
ATHENS,- A five-run eighth inning powered the University of Georgia baseball team past the Jacksonville State Gamecocks, 10-3, on Saturday afternoon at Foley Field before 3,797 spectators.
The Bulldogs came back from a 3-0 deficit in the third off a three-run homer from junior Parks Harber. Three Bulldog batters picked up two hits apiece to contribute to Georgia's (1-1) 10 for the afternoon, highlighted by redshirt freshman Charlie Condon launching a two-run double in the bottom of the eighth.
"I thought we played much better," Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach Scott Stricklin said. "When we're losing three to nothing, 'Oh no,' and we got to get our starters going. Jaden (Woods) and Liam (Sullivan) have got to get going, and they know that. We've challenged them, and they're juniors so we can talk about it and they know it.
"They're going to have a good week of work and get ready for next weekend. You're down three to nothing and just don't really have any momentum, and then Parks Harber ties it up with one swing of the bat and hits an opposite field home run into the wind. That kind of got us going and then we were able to put some at bats together and made some plays.
"Mason LaPlante was really good at shortstop. I thought Corey Collins was great behind the plate today. We made some good plays defensively. Big double play in the seventh inning. We get a double play to get us out of a jam, and then the next inning is when we put up the five spot."
Junior Liam Sullivan started for Georgia, tossing 3.0 innings and allowing three runs on three hits with two strikeouts.
Freshman Leighton Finley relived Sullivan in the fourth and threw 3.0 scoreless innings to get the win, only allowing a single hit with two strikeouts. Pace Mercer came in to close for the Bulldogs and pitched 1.1 innings for the save, allowing no hits and tallying three strikeouts. Jacksonville State's (1-1) Camden Lovrich took the loss as the second of five Gamecock pitchers.
With two scoreless innings, the Gamecocks grabbed a 3-0 lead off a three-run homer by Carson Crowe.
The Bulldogs answered back in the bottom of the frame. Graduate Mason LaPlante split the gap with a single to left field, extending his hit streak to seven games, before stealing second and advancing to third on a wild pitch. Graduate Connor Tate was walked to put two runners on.
With two outs and two strikes, Harber blasted a three-run homer of his own to score LaPlante and Tate and tie the game, 3-3.
"They threw the first punch again like yesterday, so it was important for us to throw one back" Harber said. "Fortunately, I got a pitch I could handle after a terrible first at bat, just didn't feel like myself, and I knew they were going to come back to a breaking ball. In this game it's just constantly making adjustments, so I had to make an adjustment and luckily, I got a pitch I could handle."
Georgia built a two-run lead in the bottom of the fifth. Graduate Ben Anderson sent a double deep into center field to leadoff for the Bulldogs. Tate was walked, and junior Corey Collins was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Condon was hit by pitch to advance the runners and score Anderson. Sophomore Cole Wagner reached first on a fielder's choice as Tate crossed home and boosted the Bulldogs' lead to 5-3.
Georgia added five more late runs in the bottom of the eighth. LaPlante reached first on a single to the pitcher and was advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Anderson and to third off a fly out by Tate. Harber and Collins were walked to load the bases for Condon. A two-run double from the redshirt freshman scored LaPlante and Harber to give Georgia a 7-3 advantage.
Graduate Will David kept the momentum going for the Bulldogs. David reached first on a single and advanced to third off an error by the Gamecocks' third baseman and scored Collins, Condon and junior Josh Stinson to give Georgia its game-winning 10-3 lead.
The final game of the series will start at 1 p.m. on Sunday and will be aired on SEC Network +.