Jared Cheek earned his fifth win Friday as the Bulldogs rallied past Missouri.
April 5, 2014
COLUMBIA, MO.-----Georgia outlasted Missouri 2-1 in 13 innings to claim game one of an SEC series Friday on a chilly, windy night at Taylor Stadium.
The Bulldogs (17-12-1, 4-5-1 SEC) got a career-high 5.1 scoreless innings of relief with six strikeouts from junior Jared Cheek and an unearned run to secure their first SEC road win. After the Tigers pushed a run across in the first inning, Georgia sophomore left-hander Ryan Lawlor and Cheek combined to blank the Tigers over the final 12 innings. Cheek improved to 5-3 while Tiger reliever Keaton Steele dropped to 0-5 despite going 5.2 innings with six strikeouts.
With one out in the 13th, junior designated hitter Daniel Nichols raced to second on a double on a ball hit up the middle as the Tiger outfield was playing deep. Pinch-runner Skyler Weber came on and freshman Stephen Wrenn hit a slow-roller to third baseman Ryan Howard. First baseman Kendal Keeton was unable to come up with the throw, and on the error, Weber raced home for a 2-1 margin. It was Georgia's first lead of the night.
Missouri (13-15, 3-7 SEC) was in prime position to win the contest in the 12th when it loaded the bases with one out. At that point, Georgia went to five infielders and Cheek struck out right fielder Logan Pearson who already was 3-for-4 when he came up to the plate. Then, the Bulldogs retired Shane Segovia on a flyout to send it to the 13th.
"We found a way to win, and the guys are excited about this one," said Georgia coach Scott Stricklin. "This was a great team win. Both defenses played well, I thought we hit three balls out of the park tonight. Hopefully, this will give us some momentum heading in to Saturday. Both starting pitchers and relievers were really good tonight. If you take out Ryan's first eight pitches, he was near-perfect. And the job Jared Cheek did was outstanding. Hopefully at the end of the year, we'll look back on this win and say it was a turning point for us."
The Tigers grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first. Eric Anderson drew a leadoff walk on four pitches. A fielding error by first baseman Jared Walsh moved him to second as Pearson reached. Keaton lined an RBI-single to right for a 1-0 advantage. On the play, Sean McLaughlin threw behind Pearson at second and threw him out trying to get back to the bag.
Georgia put two on in the second as Nelson Ward and Nichols reached with base hits. However, Missouri right-hander Brett Graves battled back to strike out the next two Bulldogs to maintain the 1-0 lead. The Bulldogs threatened again in the third as freshman Mike Bell led off with a base hit and Welton lined a two-out single. However, Graves retired Ward to end the frame. In the fourth, the Bulldogs had two on and two out again, this time for Bell, and Graves got him to groundout.
Georgia finally broke through in the eighth and ended Graves outing. Welton collected his third hit of the night, took second on a groundout by Ward and scored on a pinch-hit RBI single by Jess Posey. The Tigers turned to Steele and he kept it a tie game. Graves registered a career-high nine strikeouts over 7.1 innings, allowing one run on nine hits in a no decision.
"Jess had a great at bat, he just grinded it out," Stricklin added. "We finally found a way to get a hit to score a run and then in the 13th, Daniel Nichols stretched a single in to a double with their outfield playing deep. I'm happy for all the guys. Everybody contributed."
Lawlor tied his career with 7.2 innings and eight strikeouts but did not factor in the decision either. He left with two outs in the eighth and two on. Cheek came in and put the fire out with a strikeout of Keeton to send it to the ninth all tied up.
The SEC series continues Saturday with first pitch slated for 3 p.m. EDT.