ATHENS - Powered by an eight-run outburst, Georgia defeated USC Upstate 9-2 Wednesday at Foley Field before 2,334 spectators.
"We recognized that we were the better team," graduate Mason LaPlante said. "In games like this, not exactly a huge crowd, and so it's not the same environment as an SEC game. We must create our own energy. Really that's just done through our focus, in my opinion. There was kind of a switch on that front as an offense, just trusting yourself to be able to execute your job, trusting the guy that's going to come behind you and that's what happened that one inning."
Georgia (28-21) recorded 10 hits on the evening, highlighted by a double and a pair of singles by LaPlante. Redshirt freshman Charlie Condon (2-for-5, 1 RBI) extended his hitting streak to seven games and now has reached base in 47 of 49 contests this season. Graduate Connor Tate (2-for-4, RBI) picked up two hits to give him an SEC-leading 76 on the year.
The Bulldogs got on the board in the first. Condon reached on a throwing error and then advanced to second from a single by Tate and a Spartan balk. A groundout allowed Condon to score to put Georgia ahead, 1-0. USC Upstate (32-17) evened the score, 1-1, with a solo home run in the top of the second by Jace Rinehart. Georgia starter Blake Gillespie was lifted in the third in favor of Zach DeVito. The freshman tossed two innings, allowing one run off two hits. DeVito went two innings and allowed one unearned run and struck out four.
Graduate Dalton Rhadans (3-1) came in relief in the fifth for the win and struck out the side. The right-hander threw two innings, allowing no runs and scattered three hits with three strikeouts. Will Pearson pitched two scoreless frames and Nolan Crisp took care of the ninth.
The Spartans added another run in the fifth when Easton Cullison scored off a sacrifice fly to give USC Upstate a 2-1 lead. The Bulldogs rallied in the bottom of the frame with eight runs to take the lead. LaPlante knocked a leadoff double to left field. A single from Condon allowed LaPlante to round the bases to tie the game. Waiting on second, freshman Josh Tate scored a run of his own after a Connor Tate singled to center field to give Georgia the lead. A sacrifice fly from graduate Will David scored Condon, and a passed ball allowed Tate to score. An RBI-single by Sebastian Murillo scored sophomore Cole Wagner. LaPlante stepped into the box for the second time during the inning and smacked a two-run single to right field. Georgia tacked on another run as graduate Ben Anderson batted in LaPlante to extend the Bulldogs' lead, 9-2.
USC Upstate's Derek Sivec took the loss after hurling three innings, allowing three runs on three hits and one walk.
"It is a huge weekend," Georgia's Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach Scott Stricklin said. "It is the most important weekend of the season for us because we can put ourselves back in a really good conversation. We have crept our way back into it. Our momentum from last weekend ends if we don't play well this weekend. That is just the way it is. We put ourselves in a position where I feel like we need to win the series. If we do that, I think we are in a good spot to continue to keep on playing."
The Bulldogs will travel to Columbia, Mo. this weekend to face the Missouri Tigers (27-20, 7-17 SEC). The first pitch of the series will be on Friday at 7:02 p.m. ET. The series will be live on SEC Network+ and the Georgia Bulldog Sports Network.