The weekend could have easily swung in an opposite direction for the Diamond Dawgs.
A weekend after dropping a series to Tennessee, Georgia found itself looking at a tough start to the middle game of its series against Mizzou, risking the squandering of momentum for a 3-0 win on Thursday evening.
Instead the first triple play in school history since 1963 vaulted Georgia to a series sweep ahead of Tuesday’s game at SunTrust Park against Georgia Tech as the Dawgs hurlers got enough run support through the series to secure the win against the 21st-ranked Tigers.
With the bases loaded in the first inning on Friday, the Tigers were on the verge of blowing the game open. But with a deep fly to right field and the relay throw to first to double off the runner, the Bulldogs had a quick double play as Mizzou appeared to score on a sacrifice fly. But thanks to quick thinking by Georgia’s dugout, the ball was thrown to third, where it was ruled that the runner left third base early, giving the Bulldogs the very unconventional triple play.
The Bulldogs pounced on the momentum, pushing three runs across started by Aaron Schunk and LJ Talley reaching and a single by Patrick Sullivan.
The outburst, helped by Tucker Maxwell’s team-leading eighth home run in the second, pushed Georgia to a series win, 5-2 as CJ Smith pitched the first four innings before Cole Wilcox shined in middle relief duty and Schunk was summoned in the ninth to get the save.
The triple play may have snagged headlines, but equally welcomed on Thursday was staff ace Emerson Hancock not only pitching another gem but this time getting enough run support for a win. In eight innings, he not only struck out 11 but also retired 19 of 20 hitters.
Georgia got all three of its runs in the sixth as Maxwell reached on bunt, King doubled, Talley roped sacrifice fly and John Cable finished off the inning with a double.
A series win already clinched, Georgia finished out the series with a sweep on a combined one-hitter led by Toney Locey’s six innings in which he yielded two runs and a hit. In a welcome sign for Georgia, Ryan Webb replaced Locey for an inning - his first appearance since March 6 in a sign of the Bulldogs pitching depth getting more robust late in the season. Speaking of pitching depth, Zac Kristofak pitched the final two innings, giving Georgia saves by two pitching in one series.
King got Georgia on the board in the first on a double before later scoring on a wild pitch before a two-run homer by Talley in the third, who also scored Georgia’s fourth run in the fifth via a wild pitch.
Georgia now starts a five-game swing away from Foley Field starting with Tuesday’s tilt against Tech and a weekend trip to Mississippi State. Each game will be televised on the SEC Network. Georgia then plays The Citadel on April 30 in Augusta before returning home the next weekend against Florida.