Despite injuries forcing a deeper reach than likely desired into the depths of the roster, Georgia (23-5, 7-2) finds itself alone in first place of the SEC baseball standings after taking two of three at Kentucky over the weekend - the third series win in as many SEC weekends so far.
Taking two of three from the Wildcats does not have the same splash factor as last the previous weekend’s series win over LSU did as the Wildcats one conference win ranks last in the SEC. But at the end of the day, winning weekend series is a prime way to stay near the top. Georgia did just that, rebounding from a less than stellar showing just two days after relief pitching did not hold up well in a loss to Georgia Tech.
Georgia won 7-3 on Thursday, lost 5-0 on Friday while taking a 10-8 win in ten innings on Saturday to take the series.
As has been typical this year, the weekend started well with Emerson Hancock. By pitching seven strong innings, Georgia’s staff ace not only put the Dawgs in position to win, but also minimized the wear and tear on the bullpen as just one reliever, Justin Glover, was used.
John Cable continued to give a jolt for the Dawgs at the plate, homering in the first and helping a four-run inning in the fourth on an RBI double. That inning included a Connor Tate sacrifice fly, who had another the next inning to lead to a 7-1 Georgia lead, more than enough for a 7-3 win to start the series.
Kentucky took its turn with the dominant staff ace on Friday as Zach Thompson, a projected first-round pick, limited Georgia to a pair of hits in a 5-0 Wildcats win. That said, Georgia did not help itself much defensively with four Kentucky runs coming without a hit - an inning comprising of three walks, three passed balls and a wild pitch putting Georgia in a deep hole.
Georgia started with a bang in the series finale, leading 5-0 as Connor Tate continued to make his presence in the lineup payoff, ripping a grand slam. Tate continued to start in right field over the weekend with Riley King moving over to left.
Kentucky, after trimming the lead to 5-2 off of starting pitcher Tony Locey, got even closer on a throwing error on a pickoff by catcher Shane Marshall, being behind 5-4 as a result.
Georgia went back to work again at the plate, leading 8-4 after a homer by King followed by Aaron Schunk and LJ Talley reaching with a hit and a double by Cable. The Wildcats, however, tied things up on a pair of eighth-inning homers before the Bulldogs got a pair of extra-inning runs to win it thanks to a pair of Wildcat errors and three walks.
Zach Kristofak helped Georgia get in place for the win, relieving Locey (four runs on seven hits) in the fifth. In 3.2 innings pitched, he yielded four runs, all in the eighth. Schunk pitched the game’s final two innings for the win.
As the weekend, and this past week’s game against Tech showed, injuries are wearing this team thin. Starting catcher Mason Meadows presence and experience was absent behind the plate, and it showed especially with throwing errors and passed balls giving away runs to UK.
Pitching-wise, Georgia had to extend some of its pitchers out a bit further - Schunk for a pair of innings, for example. Obviously, if Georgia has to continue that, the concern is likely there that those arms could tire out before the late-season push - all the more reason for Ryan Webb and Will Proctor being needed back sooner than later.
Georgia continues its road trip on Tuesday at Clemson and Wednesday at Kennesaw State before coming home for a soldout series against Vandy in a matchup of two of the conference’s top teams.