Ryan Webb, freshmen bats provide a spark for Georgia to dominate Lipscomb
Georgia catcher Corey Collins (6) celebrates with teammates after hitting a home run during a game against Lipscomb on Friday, March 12, 2021, at Foley Field in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Julian Alexander, UGA Sports Comm)
For the second straight day, Georgia used the combination of a strong pitching performance and a spark at the plate to dominate Lipscomb 7-0 on Saturday afternoon at Foley Field.
But in the second game, it was senior Ryan Webb who took the mound for the Bulldogs. The southpaw threw six scoreless innings while allowing no hits and striking out seven batters. He did walk three batters in the 21 he faced, though. Still, that’s an impressive performance from a guy who’s just now getting back from sickness.
“They look really good,” head coach Scott Stricklin said about Webb’s pitches. “Today, he just lost focus for a couple of hitters and the walks were a little uncharacteristic, but it’s a big-time breaking ball, big-time change up, the fastball is just sitting at 92, 93 and it has a lot of spin and a lot of analytics on it. The computer when it spits out the numbers, his numbers are off the charts really good.”
Although Webb went six innings, the coaching staff had him on an 80-pitch count limit to guarantee that he will be available for the three-game series with Tennessee next weekend.
“He came and stood next to me, and he was really quiet. I looked over at him, and he was like, ‘Coach, really?’” Stricklin said. “He’s looking at the scoreboard. I know what he’s looking at. I said yeah, you don’t walk those guys, and you probably go out another inning.”
Webb told reporters in a joking manner that he tried to change Stricklin’s mind, but it didn’t work.
“I was coming off the field, and he was like, 'Ok guys, pick him up.' I stopped and kind of hesitated, because I felt that was one of my better innings,” Webb said. “I told him I was cruising. I said, 'I’m fine,' but he said, no, I was on a strict pitch count. I guess I stood by him for five minutes, didn’t say a word, but I was able on Saturday to get in a groove. It was a nice day.”
Webb has finally worked his way into the rotation as a player who the team will lean on in the coming weeks as SEC play ramps up.
“Ever since I got here, I always envisioned myself being the go-to guy,” Webb said after the game. “I felt like coming back this year, I was ready to do it and I was ready to be the guy that Emerson (Hancock) and Cole (Wilcox) were. That’s just what I’m trying to do.”
Webb was awarded the win as Georgia’s bats heated up in the bottom half of the third inning. Freshman catcher Fernando Gonzalez started the inning by singling to left and center fielder Ben Anderson drew a walk. A couple of batters later, freshman Corey Collins homered to right field giving the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead. That three-run bomb was Collins’ fourth of the year and it was also the second consecutive game that went yard in. The Suwanee, Georgia native now leads the team with four home runs.
The Bulldog bats also had a big eighth inning to secure the victory as Connor Tate and Riley King had back-to-back singles. Then, Josh McAllister drew a walk to load the bases before Chaney Rogers hit a sacrifice fly to score Tate. That brought up freshman Parks Harber, who sent a ball way over the right-field wall to give Georgia a 7-0 lead. That home run was the first of Harber’s collegiate career.
"The biggest thing for me was the first at-bat, the first ground ball, those kinds of things,” Harber said about how he felt coming into this weekend. “Those really help calm the nerves. So, yesterday after that first at-bat, getting that first hit was big, it helped me calm down a little bit.”
Harber said it was “nerve-wracking” but after his first at-bat is when his confidence was boosted. He also credited his teammates for supporting him when he stepped into the batter’s box.
“But just getting out there with everyone just calmed me down because they have all done this before,” Harber said. “They’re all great teammates and they will back you up."
Darryn Pasqua, Will Pearson and Michael Polk all pitched an inning each to close out the game. The no-hitter was given up in the top of the seventh when Bison leadoff hitter Malik Williams singled. Still, it was a great combined effort for the Bulldogs heading into Sunday’s matchup.
Georgia (12-3) and Lipscomb (5-4) will close out the series on Sunday with the final game starting at 1 p.m.
**Jonathan Cannon will start for the Bulldogs on Sunday.