If Georgia ends up earning a national seed for the NCAA baseball tournament, this past weekend on The Plains may end up being a large reason why.
Georgia could have easily come out of the weekend slumping. A series loss would have been two road series losses in a row, hardly a thump of confidence on the threshold of postseason play.
The Diamond Dawgs, however, showed the grit that’s been typical of this team, winning the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader 10-8 to take the series on the strength of Cam Shepherd’s three-run homer in the the eighth. The blast came after the Tigers got to starting pitcher Tim Elliott, who was pulled in favor of Ryan Webb - the result was Auburn tying the game after being behind 7-2.
Thanks to Shepherd, Georgia took the series, a game after the first set of the doubleheader went to Auburn in a 4-3 extra-inning victory.
The Bulldogs are 39-14 overall and 18-9 in SEC play and wrap up the regular season Thursday through Saturday at home against Alabama.
Georgia started off the weekend with a bang, scoring six runs in the fourth and four in the seven to win 7-2 as the Bulldogs totaled 14 hits. There were plenty of offensive standouts, obviously, led by Connor Tate’s four RBIs, three from John Cable and three hits from Aaron Schunk and Patrick Sullivan.
With so many runs, offensive support for Tony Locey was no issue, but he still shut the Tigers down, striking out 10 in seven innings.
Saturday’s first game marked the awaited return of staff ace Emerson Hancock after a two-week absence. And though, he was not overpowering, he was still solid enough to give Georgia a chance to win a contest won by the Tigers in 10 innings off of reliever Cole Wilcox, whose relief effort included 2.2 innings and three strikeouts. As for Hancock, his line amounted to 6.2 innings pitched, giving up three runs and four hits.
Hancock was not his sharpest, but it was good return to play to get ready for the postseason grind. The loss came despite a comeback from a 3-1 deficit led by John Cable, whose homer and double helped to tie the game before the Tigers went on to win.