Photo Credit: AJC
Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on College Baseball Nation.
After a long offseason, No. 4 Georgia and No. 21 Georgia Tech began the 2020 college baseball season Friday with a pair of wins in the Peach State. The Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets will look to build off top seeds in the NCAA Tournament last season, hoping to advance all the way to Omaha this time around.
Georgia, winner of 46 games last season, rallied to victory against the Spiders of Richmond on Opening Day. The Bulldogs trailed the Spiders 6-2 halfway through the game, before battling back to get the score to 6-5 entering the Bottom of the 9th. That goes without mentioning the success of relief pitcher Ryan Webb, who tossed 5 scoreless innings with 3 hits and 11 strikeouts to keep the Dawgs alive. Georgia then used a late-game rally led by Garrett Blaylock to tie the game in the 9th, before the always clutch Cole Tate hit the game-winning single to give the Bulldogs the victory.
Saturday was a lot less eventful in Athens, but Georgia managed to cruise past Richmond this time around. The Bulldogs defeated the Spiders 9-3 in Game 2, clinching their first series win of the season. Ben Anderson and Cam Shepherd got the bats going early before Tucker Bradley blasted a two-run shot off the scoreboard to put the Dawgs up 3-0. It was all smooth sailing from there, as Georgia never looked back. Richmond was able to pull within four runs when the Spiders made it 7-3, with a plethora of runners left on base. However, that was as close as the team from Virginia would get in Game 2.
After clinching the series victory, Georgia found itself in some trouble on Sunday, trailing 3-0 early on in the game. Not to worry, the Bulldogs again rallied to take the lead, this time needing only 2 innings to fix their problems later on. With Richmond leading 4-1 heading into the Bottom of the 5th, the Dawgs scored a pair of runs in both the 5th and 6th. From there, Georgia held on to escape with a 5-4 victory and a series sweep.
The Bulldogs continued their season Wednesday, with a 10-2 road win against a previously undefeated Kennesaw State team. After returning from the midweek matchup, Georgia will play host to a red-hot Santa Clara squad in Athens this weekend in a four-game series. The Dawgs will likely return to junior Emerson Hancock, sophomore Cole Wilcox, and junior C.J. Smith against the Broncos, though a fourth starter is unknown at this time.
Now, on to The Flats. Georgia Tech started its season off with a lot less drama than Georgia, winning its first two games of the year in rather easy fashion. Tech played host to 3 teams over the weekend in the Atlanta Challenge. The tournament featured a trio of hometown teams in Tech, Georgia State and Kennesaw State hosting St. Peter’s, St. John’s and Cincinnati. The Yellow Jackets pounded the Peacocks of St. Peter’s on Friday, en-route to a 6-0 win. Four freshman pitchers helped the White and Gold shut out their opponent, all while holding St. Peter’s to just 3 hits in the victory.
On Saturday, the Jackets would take on the Bearcats, coming back from an early 1-0 deficit to outlast the Southern Ohio squad. Tech trailed 1-0 heading into the 5th inning, before piling on 4 runs to take a 4-1 lead. The Jackets would tack on 2 more in the 7th to make it 6-1, before the Bearcats closed the gap in the 8th. Cincinnati cut the lead to 6-4, but was unable to complete the comeback on The Flats, as Georgia Tech grabbed yet another win.
Unfortunately for the Jackets, Sunday was not too kind, delivering an 11-1 beatdown at the hands of St. John’s. Tech was unable to get the scoring going on the final day of the Atlanta Challenge, plating just 1 run on 5 hits. However, the Yellow Jackets remained ranked in the polls and rebounded nicely Tuesday.
After a disappointing loss to end the Atlanta Challenge, Tech traveled South to Statesboro for a midweek game against a talented Georgia Southern team Tuesday. Grabbing an early 1-0 lead, the Jackets quickly found themselves down 3-1, but epicly rallied to defeat the Eagles 4-3. The Yellow Jackets trailed 3-2 entering the 9th, before Jackson Webb drew a leadoff walk to start the comeback. Webb scored on a fielder’s choice, which could have ended the game for Georgia Southern. However, a two-out Michael Guldberg single scored Austin Wilhite to give the Jackets the lead for good, before Sam Crawford sent down three Georgia Southern batters to close the game. Tech improves to 3-1 on the season with three big games against Ohio State in Atlanta coming up.
At 3-0 and 3-1 overall, the pair of Peach State foes look to be right on track heading into their monster clash next weekend. The Bulldogs will play host to the Jackets on Friday, the 28th before Tech hosts Game 2 on Saturday. Meanwhile, the finale of Clean Old-Fashioned Hate will take place on Sunday at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, the home of the AAA Gwinnett Stripers.