ATHENS, Ga. – Four Bulldog pitchers combined to propel the No. 17 Georgia baseball team past Georgia Tech, 4-0, Tuesday evening in front of a season-high, sold out crowd of 3,730 at Foley Field.
For the fourth time in the past six games, the Bulldogs (22-7) have held their opponent scoreless. In total, it marks the sixth shutout of the season – the most since the 2006 Georgia team that advanced to the College World Series and tallied eight shutouts.
The feat almost didn’t fester as the Yellow Jackets (17-12) appeared to take an early 1-0 lead on a sacrifice fly in the first inning, but a video review eradicated the play. The play was overturned; proving Tucker Bradley’s throw from right field paired with Mason Meadows’ tag beat the runner’s hand on the plate thus ending the inning.
From that point forward, the game entered into a pitchers’ duel featuring Georgia Tech’s starter Brant Hurter and Georgia’s duo of starter Tony Locey and then reliever Kevin Smith.
Through six innings, Hurter (2-2) yielded five hits and one run, while the Bulldog twosome kept the Yellow Jackets to just three hits. Locey struck out four of the seven batters he faced in two innings, while Smith (4-1) followed with a career-high nine strikeouts over 4.1 innings.
Hurter settled back in after giving up one fourth-inning run, however the Bulldogs chased him out of the game in the seventh. In a display of small ball, the Bulldogs produced three runs on five singles.
After a leadoff single by LJ Talley, Meadows offered himself up on a potential sacrifice bunt, but the Georgia Tech catcher unsuccessfully tried for Talley at second. Next, streaking down the line and safe was Tucker Maxwell on a bunt to load the bases. Hurter induced a fielder’s choice at home to get the leadoff runner, before exiting.
Upon the pitching change, consecutive run-scoring singles followed from Aaron Schunk, Keegan McGovern and Michael Curry, extending the Georgia lead to 4-0.
With the lead, Zac Kristofak and Aaron Schunk closed out the game on the mound to secure the shutout of game one of the Georgia Tech series. The second game is scheduled for April 24 on the Georgia Tech campus, while the final game will be at SunTrust Park on May 8.
- In the first inning, Keegan McGovern and Michael Curry both extended their streak of reaching base safely to 19 games. Additionally, Mason Meadows' RBI single in the fourth extended the catcher's on-base streak to 13 straight games.
-Georgia starter Tony Locey threw two scoreless innings and struck out four of the seven batters faced to start the staff night. Locey has now gone 13.1 straight innings without giving up a run, dating back to March 13 vs. Kennesaw State.
-Following Locey, Kevin Smith pitched 4.1 scoreless innings, striking out a career-high nine batters. The nine sent down tied for the most this season by a Bulldog (Chase Atkins vs. Toledo; 3/9/18)
-Georgia has nine more wins than it had last year on April 3.
Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach Scott Stricklin
On the overall performance...
"I thought we pitched really well, and we got those big hits in the seventh inning to expand that lead. The middle of the order got it done – Schunk, McGovern and Curry came up with some big hits. The bottom line, we relied on our pitching staff today. Locey gave us a good start with two innings, and then Kevin Smith was lights out. Nine strikeouts, four and a third. Then, Kristofak and Schunk shut it down."
On the sellout crowd...
"It was great. There were no seats; we were overflowed. That's what we want. The biggest thing for me is we played really well and got a win, and they'll come back. So we got people excited, and we're excited about the way we're playing, so we hope they keep coming back."
Junior LHP #15 Kevin Smith
On his approach on the mound...
"I felt really good. All three pitches were working, so I had a little more back than usual today."
On the pitching staff's confidence level...
"Our offense is really good. Their pitcher is really good for them, but [the offense] knows we can hold them to minimal runs."
On the sellout crowd...
"It's good. If we keep winning, the fans come. It's fun to watch. We're playing well right now; it's really fun."
Georgia return to the road and to the Southeastern Conference schedule this weekend with a three-game series against No. 16 Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn. The series opener is slotted for Thursday, April 5th at 7 p.m. and it will be aired on ESPNU.