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Diamond Dogs: Young hurlers help Georgia past Evansville
Several freshman pitched this weekend to aid the Bulldogs in victory
Georgia pitcher Charlie Goldstein (29) during a game against Evansville at Foley Field in Athens, Ga., on Feb. 21, 2021. (Photo by Chamberlain Smith)
Georgia (3-1) wrapped up its four-game series against Evansville (1-3) on Sunday afternoon with a 4-1 win, which was the third consecutive victory for the Bulldogs after dropping the season opener on Friday night to the Purple Aces.
Two of Georgia’s pitchers, who would normally be in the starting rotation, are currently dealing with illnesses. So, head coach Scott Stricklin had to turn to some younger arms on Georgia’s opening weekend to help fill the gap. On Sunday, the Bulldogs used three freshmen pitchers in the win, and that brought the total to eight new players that made their collegiate debut over the last three days.
Charlie Goldstein, Hank Bearden, Liam Sullivan, Will Pearson and Jack Gowen all got to pitch on Sunday. The five Bulldogs combined to strike out seven opponents but allowed 10 walks in 38 batters faced. Still, Stricklin said he likes what he saw from his young arms on Sunday and throughout the weekend.
“That’s what we talked about, if we didn't have five guys out, that's probably five of these young kids who would not have gotten the opportunity,” Stricklin said. “We had eight freshmen that pitched. All those guys got the opportunity because the opportunity was there, and they took advantage of it.”
Goldstein got the start but Bearden was awarded the win. Georgia’s offense didn’t score until the bottom half of the third inning until after the Alpharetta native was taken out of the game. Bearden then went 2.1 innings and gave up the only run of the day, which was credited as unearned. Sullivan came in after Bearden and threw nearly three scoreless innings until being replaced by Gowen. Pearson followed and was awarded the save.
“Not all of them were perfect, and I actually told Hank (Bearden) that,” Stricklin said. “I told him I really didn’t think he pitched that well, and he kind of looked at me funny, but I told him he got the job done. To me, that was the encouraging thing. Bearden is going to be really good for us. He just looked a little bit off, but that’s kind of what you expect from a freshman taking the mound for the first time at the University of Georgia. It’s pretty nerve-wracking, but they all fought through it. They all did their jobs.”
Georgia redshirt junior Connor Tate was thoroughly impressed with his teammates’ performances.
“We had a lot of confidence in them coming into the games,” Tate said. “They’re really confident in themselves. Even if they walked someone, they knew they had the defense to back them up.”
The Bulldogs will lean on its freshmen when needed this season, especially since veteran guys like Ryan Webb, Jonathan Cannon, Michael Polk and Logan Moody out. The eight pitchers that made their Georgia debuts this past weekend against Evansville got some valuable reps, which can be a confidence booster heading into the future.
Following Georgia’s weekend series against Evansville, the Bulldogs will play Wednesday night at Georgia State. Then, Gardner-Webb will travel to Athens to play in another four-game series at Foley Field, which starts on Friday.