Diamond Dogs: Georgia gets Sunday win, completes sweep of Gardner-Webb
Big bats propel Bulldogs past Gardner-Webb
Georgia infielder Garrett Blaylock (24) during a game against Gardner-Webb at Foley Field in Athens, Ga., on Sat., Feb. 27. 2021. (Photo by Chamberlain Smith)
Georgia continued its seven-game winning streak and series sweep on Sunday with a 17-3 win over the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs (7-1) had four home runs in the series finale with two coming from third baseman Garrett Blaylock, who is finally starting to see the ball after a slow start at the plate. Josh McAllister, who had the game-winning homer in Saturday’s first contest, also went yard as well as Chaney Rogers. Junior Connor Tate was also a perfect 5-for-5 with five RBIs.
Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin was impressed with his team on Sunday, but especially Blaylock.
“We needed some guys to break out,” Stricklin said. “Garrett (Blaylock) opens the season for us hitting in the three-hole. He means a lot to us. We need him to be a run producer for us, so it was great to see that bat come alive for us today. We talked to him a little bit before the game about being more aggressive today and he was.”
Stricklin added that the two dingers Blaylock hit on Sunday afternoon traveled around 800 feet.
The Asheville, North Carolina native got a big confidence boost after starting the season going 0-for-10.
“Up until today, I’ve taken some pitches that I probably should have swung at, especially early on,” Blaylock said. “But today, I think, started getting back to the approach I’ve talked about early on. The ones I've taken for strikes, I’ve gone back and looked where they were on the play. I didn’t think they were strikes, but I feel like I’m swinging at good pitches. I’m swinging early, and it worked out for me today.”
Before the season, Blaylock commented on how he needed to change his batting approach because last season he would wait further down in the count to find the right pitch. Well, his new strategy paid off as he was responsible for a big chunk of Georgia’s offensive production on Sunday.
The fun started in the second inning when Blaylock hit a two-run bomb that drove in Tate and that put Georgia up 2-0. The Runnin’ Bulldogs responded in the top of the third, although Georgia added two more in the bottom half of the inning as McAllister doubled and scored a few batters later on a Buddy Floyd hit. Floyd then scored on an outfield single by Tate. After that, there really was no turning back as Georgia continued to pile it on the visiting Bulldogs.
Freshman southpaw Jaden Woods got the start for the Bulldogs and threw four innings and struck out three hitters. Reliever Liam Sullivan was credited with the win, though. Hank Bearden, Shane Marshall and Nolan Crisp all pitched an inning to close out the game.
After the game, Sullivan was thankful to have gotten the opportunity to come in and get the credited win.
"I think it's definitely very important,” Sullivan said when asked about getting the chance so early on in the season. “It's nice to get out there and get exposure and get experience from these games. It’s to get those first-game jitters out of the way, just get out there and pitch. I think it's really helped all of our freshmen staff. Everyone has done really well; it's been really good."
Stricklin was impressed with all of his pitchers’ performances, especially Woods.
"I thought he was really good early up to 94, mostly 91, 92 touched a couple of threes and saw a four up there,” Stricklin said. “The arm strength, the weather is heating up a little bit you're starting to see the arm get a little looser but threw a couple of good breaking balls and that is something he is still working on. Once that comes together and he gets a true three-pitch-mix because he's got a very good changeup he is going to be very, very good.
“It’s great to see him go out there but also not a bad thing to struggle a little bit because they have to fight their way out of it. When we get in the league, it's not going to be easy, so nothing wrong with having a little bit of adversity. We want everything to go smooth but having some guys on base maybe not making a play behind you or walking a guy, that can be good for these freshmen and help them grow up."
Georgia will return to action on Tuesday night at Kennesaw State, which starts at 5 p.m.