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Backs To The Wall

Forgetful Night Puts Diamond Dawgs on brink of elimination

Kristin M. Bradshaw / UGA Sports Communications

There’s no way to sum it Georgia’s current position following a Twilight-Zone like night at Foley Field.

After a night in which staples of powered this team all year long, pitching and defense soured in a 12-3 loss to Florida State in the Athens Regional, the Diamond Dawgs find their backs pinned against the wall.

It simple at this point. Win three games in a row, starting at Noon on Sunday against Florida Atlantic, and the Bulldogs are in the Super Regional. Fail to do so, and it’s an elimination in the regionals for the second year in a row on Georgia’s home field.

There is some solace to take for Georgia that it can hopefully carry over to Sunday. A handful of strong defensive plays in the eighth by Randon Jernigan marked the latter innings of the blowout loss.

Not only that, but the last time Florida State was in the regional round in Athens was in 2006 - and the Seminoles won the Saturday night tilt that year before Georgia won three in a row, topping FSU twice.

Now, Georgia has to do the same, flushing this one away.

Starting pitching and getting a good start will be key on Sunday with either Cole Wilcox or Tim Elliott starting against FAU and should Georgia win, the other would pitch Sunday night’s game against Florida State.

As for Saturday night, it just was not Hancock’s night. Even before he got touched up for a season-high five runs, it faced an uphill climb, being forced to work higher pitch counts and falling behind, running pitches thrown up.

Georgia got two early runs, starting with a Tucker Maxwell homer to start things. Otherwise, it was shutdown by Florida State starter CJ Van Eyck.

The wheels came off in the fourth, FSU, having tied it at 2-2 an inning earlier, went ahead for good, the big hit being a two-run single by Tim Becker. Ryan Webb, who relieved Hancock, took his lumps as well, giving up four runs on five hits in only retiring one Seminole batter.

The tough night was not limited to the pitcher’s mound. A misplayed pop fly down the first-base line as Patrick Sullivan lost his footing helped lead to a Florida State run. Riley King was also unable to come up with a foul ball down the right field line, adding to a night where so much that went right for Georgia all year long did not on Saturday.

Post-Game Quotables

FSU Head Coach Mike Martin

“We know that the host school will be playing tomorrow, and we know we are going to have to have the same effort in order to accomplish what we want to do. But this was certainly an encouraging game for us, but as a friend of mine used to say “we just can’t eat the cheese”. We have to keep getting better. We have the approach tomorrow’s game with the idea of getting better. Let’s hope that we can get the effort and a starting performance from our pitcher.”

FSU’s Tim Becker on working the pitch count against Emerson Hancock

“From the get-go, we knew he was a dog on the mound for sure. He is a great pitcher. We were just trying to attack him early and get ahead in the count. We did that well in the first inning and just kept it going.”

Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin

“You know, bottom line is they kicked our tail. They got the best of us tonight. That’s why it’s a double elimination tournament, though. We’ve got an opportunity to come back tomorrow. We’ll play Florida Atlantic at noon tomorrow, and we’ll do everything we can to win that game and try to get another shot at Florida State tomorrow night.”

Georgia’s Tucker Maxwell

“Our pitching is built for this. We have the depth throughout the whole team, and all we’ve got to do is come out and play the same game we’ve been trying to play, not trying to do anything too much.”

*Quotes via UGA Sports Communications

Go Dawgs!