Don’t plan a trip to trip to Peyton Manning’s favorite reference city for an audible (OMAHA!) or make dinner reservations for a steak at The Drover, but the Diamond Dawgs may be asserting themselves as a factor among SEC teams.
A weekend sweep of South Carolina (18-6, 5-1) is Georgia best SEC start since 2002 and first SEC series sweep for the Bulldogs since 2015. It’s a matter of some conjecture if the past two weekend opponents, South Carolina and Alabama will be playing in NCAA regionals. But one of the biggest keys to contending is beating the teams that you are supposed to beat. Georgia has done that so far in conference play.
The Bulldogs stay within the friendly confines of Foley Field for the next week, hosting Charleston Southern on Tuesday and Texas A&M next weekend.
Sunday: Georgia, 3, South Carolina 0
How it happened: It was hardly baseball weather with cold conditions at Foley Field, but Georgia got enough timely hits to support another sterling showing by Ryan Webb, who pitched six shutout innings and gave up two hits. A pair of runs in fourth innings proved to be all that the Dawgs needed as Michael Curry drove in Keegan McGovern. Curry later scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam Sasser.
Kevin Smith and Aaron Schunk pitched the final two innings as Schunk got his second save of the weekend.
Of Note: We’ve talked in this space recently about Georgia’s need to shore up the bullpen. That wasn’t an issue this weekend as the combo of Kevin Smith and Aaron Schunk protected the lead twice, and Schunk got a pair of saves.
Saturday: Georgia 12, South Carolina 3
How it happened: McGovern got the Bulldogs going with a two-run bomb in the first, and a two-out rally in the third frame made it 6-0 on a Cam Shepherd triple, Adam Sasser single and two-run home by LJ Talley. Georgia blew it open in the eighth as the Bulldogs batted around for six runs. That margin was far more than was needed for starting pitcher Emerson Hancock, who struck out seven and walked none in addition to giving up just a run in six innings of work.
Of Note: The win was great, but so much of this day at Foley Field was bigger than baseball. Two former Georgia players whose careers were cut short by spinal injury - Chance Veazey and Jonathan Taylor, were honored before Saturday’s game. Both threw out of the first pitch before the game and were also honored with a permanent display at Foley Field accurately named, “A Legacy Of Strength.” Frierson Files has more on Saturday’s festivities that included former players and coaches present, including former Georgia head coach David Perno.
Friday: Georgia 7, South Carolina 5
How it happened: Georgia came from behind to start the weekend off with a win. Reliever Tony Locey came through in a big way, hurling four hitless innings and setting down 10 Gamecocks in a row. Georgia tied the game at 5-5 in the bottom to the seventh on a pair of runs with Bradley doubling in Adam Meadows before an Aaron Schunk groundout scored CJ Smith. Bradley scored the go-ahead run later in the inning after Curry’s linedrive to center was misplayed, putting Georgia out front.
Kevin Smith and Schunk took held the Gamecocks at bay for the final two innings to ice the win.
Of Note: Tony Locey had another big-time appearance coming out of the bullpen, something that is and could be more invaluable as the season goes on. Nights like Friday show how effective an ‘inning eater’ can be. Locey not only came on in relief of Adkins in the fourth, but his pitching shut down USC and turned momentum Georgia’s way that ended up carrying over to Bulldogs bats in the comeback win.