Photo Credit: @BaseballUGA Media Dept.
On a chilly Valentine’s night in Athens, the 5th ranked Georgia Bulldogs (1-0, 0-0 SEC) opened up their 2020 campaign against the Richmond Spiders (0-1, 0-0 A10) with a late inning comeback, a walk-off win, and a dominant pitching performance, but not from who you would expect, as the drama unfolded at Foley Field.
Georgia was able to capitalize against Richmond’s Tim Miller early, as a leadoff single from CF Ben Anderson was brought home from LF Tucker Bradley in the first, and Cole Tate hit the Dawgs’ first homer of the season in the 2nd inning, a solo shot that extended the lead to 2-0 UGA after 2.
However, Emerson Hancock, Georgia’s ace and projected first-round pick, did not have his best night as Richmond knocked him out of the game after four innings and 6 runs scored. Hancock’s line was 4 IP, 6 ER, 9 H, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 4 K’s. CF Anthony Forte broke the shutout on a RBI single following a HBP to lead off the 3rd, while Catcher Drew Blakely gave Richmond the lead on a single that scored more 2 runs in the 3rd. LF Johnny Hipsman and 3B Dominic Toso hit back-to-back home runs in the 4th to extend Richmond’s lead to 6-2.
Despite losing the ace after four innings, lefty Ryan Webb stole the show for the Dawgs, as he came in to pitch the remaining of the game. Webb finished with 5 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, and 11 K’s, including 13 straight Spider batters retired between the 5th and the 9th innings. The 5 innings pitched and 11 strikeouts were both career highs by Webb.
With Webb getting the job done, the Dawgs bats had to come back alive after squandering a lead-off double by SS Cam Shepherd in the 3rd and leaving the bases loaded in the 4th. However, the Dawgs would slowly chip away from Richmond’s lead beginning with Tucker Bradley’s leadoff double in the 5th being brought in by 3B Garrett Blaylock’s 1-out single. In the 6th inning, UGA got another run back as Bradley bunted to bring Anderson home following a lead-off single by 2B Cole Tate, fielders choice by Anderson, and a single by Shepherd that moved Anderson over to third.
In the 7th inning, with the Dawgs trailing 6-4, DH Connor Tate was issued a one-out walk, and his twin brother Cole brought him home on a 2-out single, however, a baserunning error by freshman pinch-hitter Buddy Floyd ended the inning with the Dawgs trailing by 1. After nothing going in the 8th, Georgia came to the bottom of the 9th trailing 6-5.
The 9th inning had all the drama you could ask for, as Blaylock led-off and was quickly up 3-0 against Spider reliever Jarrad DeLarso. However, DeLarso battled back and popped-up Blaylock, but the ball was dropped by Blakely and Blaylock was given new life. Blaylock capitalized, knocking a missile out into right center field and the game was tied. DeLarso was able to recover by making Connor Tate line out to left, but 1B Patrick Sullivan was able to get a single and Randon Jernigan came to pinch-run for Sullivan. C Shane Marshall was able to advance Jernigan to second, and Cole Tate was able to cap off a four-hit night and send everyone home on a walk-off single that blooped into center field that scored Jernigan, as Georgia completed the comeback 7-6.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME:
Richmond: C Drew Blakely: 4-5, 4 Singles, 1 K, 2 RBI
Georgia: 2B Cole Tate: 4-5, 3 Singles, 1 Home Run, 1 K, 3 RBI
The Spiders and Bulldogs will meet again on Saturday, February 15 at 2:00 PM as Georgia’s Cole Wilcox will make his 2020 debut against Richmond’s Collin Lowe. They complete the series on Sunday, February 16 at 1:00 PM as Georgia’s CJ Smith and Richmond’s Jacob Marcus gets the nod. Both games will be available on SECN+ and the Georgia Bulldogs Sports Radio Network.