Feb. 18, 2014
ATHENS, Ga. --- Georgia's ninth inning rally fell short as the Bulldogs lost 10-7 to Kennesaw State Tuesday at Foley Field.
Georgia (1-3) used six different pitchers, including freshman Robert Tyler who made his first career start, going 4.1 innings tallying three strikeouts while allowing four runs, only one earned, on seven hits. Kennesaw State (3-1) erupted late off of relievers Jared Cheek and Pete Nagel, who combined to surrender five runs over the final two frames.
In the ninth, Georgia was able to score two off of KSU reliever James Connell. The right hander struggled to throw strikes in the final inning as he hit a batter with the bases loaded in addition to walking in a run. Georgia's threat was halted as they ended the game with back to back strikeouts with the bases loaded.
Georgia built a 3-0 lead in the second, saw the Owls take a 5-3 lead in the fifth and Georgia responded to tie it in that frame. However, KSU scored one in the eighth and four in the ninth to build a 10-5 edge.
"We dug ourselves a big hole late in the game, and we fought back and had a chance in the ninth, and that's what I told the team; we keep fighting until the last out," Georgia coach Scott Stricklin. "I thought Robert di d a good job in his first start, and we believe in all our guys. Someone has to come through with that big hit or make that big pitch, and it's contagious, that's baseball. We're going to have improve and play very good baseball this weekend at Florida State."
Georgia got out to an early lead in the bottom of the second inning, as Cody McCance drove in Jess Posey on a fielder's choice with the bases loaded. Posey started the Bulldogs off with a line drive single into centerfield, and then a walk by Heath Holder and a single by Brandon Stephens loaded the bases for Georgia with no outs. McCance then grounded into a fielder's choice that scored Posey and advanced Holder and Stephens to second and third, respectively.
KSU starter Chris Erwin found himself in even more trouble after walking Stephen Wrenn and Conor Welton consecutively in the next two at-bats to load the bases for the second time in the inning and then to walk home another run. Erwin was able to force Nelson Ward to ground into a fielder's choice to record the second out of the inning, but surrendered a third run in the process before getting the third out of the inning, leaving Georgia with a 3-0 lead after two. The second inning proved to be the final for Erwin, as he was relieved in the bottom of the third by Cole McArthur.
Tyler worked himself into a jam in the top of the third, allowing back-to-back one out singles to Dylan Ivey and Kal Simmons. Tyler then forced Jacob Bruce to hit a grounder to Holder at first base, which appeared to have double play potential but an off-target throw limited the Bulldogs to just one out on the play, advancing Ivey to third. Tyler then looked to get out of the inning unscathed forcing Jacob Bruce to hit the ball on the ground towards third, but Posey could not field the ball cleanly and Bruce reached first safely, allowing Ivey to score to cut the Bulldogs' lead to 3-1.
After tacking on another run in then fourth, the Owls used a big fifth to take a short-lived 5-3 lead. With one out Simmons reached on a Ward error, which was followed by a Bruce single. Stricklin then opted to hand the ball over to right handed reliever David Sosebee with hope he could escape the jam, after striking out preseason All-America catcher Max Pentecost, Sosebee gave up a three-run home run to first baseman Chris McGowan.
In the bottom of the inning, Georgia quickly responded tying the game up at 5-5. Junior clean-up hitter Hunter Cole led off the inning with a single up the middle. Next, designated hitter Zach Bowers chose a good time to pick up his first hit of a year as he smacked a double to the fence to score Cole from first. Bowers later scored the tying run on a Holder fielder's choice. Bowers also ended up leading the Bulldogs' offense with three hits and two runs.
Kennesaw State reclaimed the lead in the eighth on a Simmons fielder's choice. After Georgia recorded one out, Alex Liquori, Matt Bahnick and Ivey hit three singles in a row loading the bases for Simmons. Simmons hit a grounder to first baseman Holder, who chose to go to second with the ball, allowing Liquori to score. In the ninth, the Owls added four more runs to their total. The first two coming when reliever Pete Nagel walked both Jeremy Howell and Ivey with the bases loaded. With the bases still loaded, redshirt senior Dylan Cole came in to relieve Nagel. Cole allowed a two run single to Simmons, giving KSU their ninth and tenth run.
In the ninth Georgia threatened to comeback, but the deficit proved to be great. Ward led off the inning with a walk, two batters later Bowers had an infield single to third, which was followed by a Posey walk to load the bases. Sophomore Daniel Nichols was then hit by a pitch to score Georgia's first run since the fifth. Freshman catcher Skyler Weber took advantage of reliever James Connell's control issue as he walked with the bases loaded adding one more for the Bulldogs. Although, that is all Georgia could muster as both McCance and Wrenn struck out swinging to end the game.
Justin McCalvin earned the win to even his record at 1-1 while Cheek took the loss to fall 0-1.
Up next, the Bulldogs travel to fourth-ranked FSU. First pitch Friday will be at 4 p.m. and can be heard on the Georgia Bulldog Sports Network. Also, the entire series will be available on ESPN3.