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Strong pitching, ninth-inning comeback leads Georgia past the Gamecocks
COLUMBIA, SC. — No. 17 Georgia (23-7, 7-3) was limited to one run through the first eight innings, although the Bulldogs’ offense managed to get hot when it needed to, scoring two runs in the top of the ninth frame to take a 3-2 lead over South Carolina (14-15, 3-7).
Georgia relief pitcher Jack Gowen replaced Will Pearson in the bottom half of the inning. He was able to retire three consecutive Gamecocks’ batters to secure the victory.
Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin pointed out that his pitchers stepped up on Friday, especially junior Nolan Crisp, who started in place of the injured Jonathan Cannon.
"Our pitchers were outstanding,” Stricklin said. “We couldn't ask any more out of Nolan (Crisp) because he's been one of our go-to guys out of the bullpen, and now he's started (for us) two weeks in a row. He's a tough kid who competes, and he got the job done.”
Crisp pitched 4.1 innings, limiting South Carolina’s offense to four hits and two runs while striking out three. Jaden Woods was brought in during the bottom of the fifth and escaped a bases-loaded jam. Pearson (2-1) got the victory after replacing Woods in the seventh. The 6-foot-2, 177-pound sophomore retired all six Gamecock hitters he faced in two innings pitched.
Stricklin added that the bullpen also did its job.
“Jaden did a great job coming in with the bases loaded,” he said. “Will was awesome in getting a win, and that's the best I've seen from Jack since the SEC Tournament last year."
Georgia’s offense tallied nine hits through the first eight innings, despite only scoring one run. The Bulldogs left 10 runners on base, which was the root of their scoring problem.
That run in the second inning came with two outs. Fernando Gonzalez had a single that went in-between the South Carolina third basemen and shortstop, which scored Conner Tate.
Stricklin said that the Bulldogs knew coming in that USC pitcher Noah Hall was going to be on his A-game.
“We knew he was going to be a tough matchup,” he said. “That change-up was really good. He was throwing it on 3-2 counts and it was up to 93 mph. He did a nice job and kept us off-balance.”
Georgia would tie the contest 2-2 in the top of the ninth as a Cole Tate single scored Buddy Floyd. Corey Collins would then hit into a fielder choice, scoring graduate outfielder Ben Anderson. That RBI hit from Collins gave the Bulldogs a 3-2 advantage.
The series continues Saturday with the first pitch at 4:02 p.m on SECN+.