Georgia relies on strong pitching performance, big bats to defeat Eagles
ATHENS, GA. — Georgia bounced back after losing its series against SEC opponent Kentucky with a 7-2 win over Georgia Southern on Tuesday.
The No. 23-ranked Bulldogs relied on a combination of strong pitching and situational hitting to secure the series-clinching victory over the Eagles in a midweek non-conference matchup.
"This past weekend left a bad taste in everybody's mouth," Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin said. "We were beaten up by the other team, beat up by the weather, and beat up by the travel. We didn't handle it very well. Tonight, we challenged our guys and our pitchers challenged themselves. They let everybody know this is what we need to do. I thought everybody responded tonight and every single guy that stepped on the mound tonight was good."
Georgia’s Connor Tate had a solid performance at the plate. He went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Bulldogs’ freshman Cole Wagner also had a three-run home run in the seventh inning, which helped extend Georgia’s lead. Corey Collins, Josh McAllister and Chaney Rogers also had hits for the Bulldogs in the victory over the Eagles.
Sophomore Hank Bearden (1-0) got the start on the mound and went 3.2 innings, limiting Georgia Southern to five hits and one run. The right-hander also had a career-high four strikeouts. He was followed by Michael Polk, Will Pearson, Jack Gowen and Jaden Woods. All four combined for six strikeouts and three walks while limiting the Eagles to one hit.
The Georgia pitching staff struggled against the Wildcats in the final two games of the series this past weekend. So, the Bulldogs needed a rebound performance on Tuesday.
“It just took confidence to get back out here to do what we know we can do,” Gowen said. “All of us included. You know, to see other guys go out there and have a positive outcome. It was really good for the staff as a whole and it’s what we needed before a big weekend.”
The Bulldogs got on the board in the top of the first as Collins and Tate rounded the bases. After Georgia Southern’s Kyler Hultgren homered to cut Georgia’s lead to 2-1 in the fourth, Cole Tate collected an RBI in the bottom half of the frame as he drove in McAllister.
The Eagles would add another run in the top of the seventh, but the Bulldogs would respond again. Connor Tate’s single drove in Cole Tate before Wagner hit his three-run bomb in the seventh. That timely home run was Wagner’s third of the season and it gave Georgia some insurance
“In a close game, things can be tense and tight,” Gowen said. “Those insurance runs give us a chance to kind of go out there and take a breath. It let us work on what needed to be worked on. The series was split beforehand, so to get the win, was big for us.”
Georgia will return to action with a three-game SEC series against No. 16 Florida on Thursday, March 31 through Saturday, April 2. Thursday's first pitch is slated for 8 p.m on ESPN2.