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February 16, 2014
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No, this wasn't the quite the start that Scott Stricklin had hoped for his Bulldogs, who capped their season-opening series by dropping two of three games to visiting Georgia Southern.
Sunday's 18-4 loss was certainly disappointing, something the new Georgia skipper made clear after the game.
"I expected to win this series and I hoped to sweep this series. I think we've got a good team, I really do and this score does not reflect that, but the important thing is we're going to get better," Stricklin said. "But we expect to win every game, so this is disappointing. Disappointing is probably an understatement."
For those keeping count, the Eagles outscored the Bulldogs 30-18, including the 11 that Georgia Southern scored in the third inning on Sunday.
The Eagles outhit the Bulldogs 21-10.
"That was surprising," Stricklin said. "Georgia Southern is a very good team and I thought they played very well, but our pitching staff is better than that, I know they are. But to look up at that scoreboard and see those numbers, you don't expect that."
Left fielder Hunter Cole admitted it wasn't much fun.
"It stinks, obviously because we're a better team than that," Cole said. "If we can limit that inning and get back in the dugout, score a couple of runs, this would have been a much closer game."
The third inning started oddly enough when leadoff hitter Dalton Busby struck out on a ball in the dirt, but reached when catcher Skyler Weber inexplicably threw to third.
That brought Stricklin charging out of the Bulldog dugout to argue the play, but according to the coach, home plate umpire David Savage made the right call.
"Skyler thought he caught the baseball. He was in a hurry to throw the ball to third base to throw it around the horn, which really doesn't mean much," Stricklin said. "David Savage made the safe call right away, meaning there was no catch. The umpire made the call right away. It was a freshman mistake; he'll learn from it. That's what we talked about - you make a mistake and learn from it."
After the game, Weber was charged with a passed ball, meaning 10 of Georgia Southern's runs that inning wound up being unearned.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they still counted.
Starter Patrick Boling (0-1) gave up seven of the 11 runs, with only one was earned.
Reliever Ross Ripple wasn't so lucky. The right-hander replaced Boling with two out in the third and gave up five runs on four hits, including a two-run homer to Aaron Mizell, before finally getting the final out of the inning.
It was just one of those days.
The Eagles completed the rout with one more run in the fourth, four more in the fifth and two more in the eighth.
Georgia Southern pounded out 21 hits on the afternoon, including three each by Mizell, who blasted a pair of home runs. Stryker Brown also homered for the Eagles (2-1) to help make a winner of Jason Richman (1-0).
Nelson Ward and Conor Welton both had two hits for the Bulldogs.
NOTES: Georgia returns to action Tuesday against Kennesaw State (5 p.m.) before preparing for next weekend's three-game set at Florida State. … Bulldog left fielder Hunter Cole posted an unusual batting line, walking four times in five at-bats. The Georgia record for walks in a game is five held by Posey.