HOOVER, ALA. - Georgia's backs are officially against the wall. The Bulldogs' post-season future? Well, it's hanging by the proverbial thread.
Credit Vanderbilt's 4-1 win in the first round of the SEC Tournament for that.
"I thought we did okay against their starter VerHagen but we had no answer for the sidearm guy Miller," said Georgia coach David Perno. "Vanderbilt is playing well and got some big hits when it counted. We both had six hits, but they turned them in to four runs while we managed just one. We'll have to come out Wednesday and lean on Michael (Palazzone) to give us a good start and try to be more productive when we have chances to score. Alex (Wood) competed well tonight and gave us everything he had."
Unfortunately for Georgia (31-25), it wasn't near enough.
The Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead in the second off Drew VerHagen. Senior second baseman Levi Hyams led off with a double to extend his hitting streak to seven games. Junior catcher Brett DeLoach moved him to third with a groundout and senior Colby May notched an RBI with a groundout to second.
In the bottom of the second, catcher Spencer Navin reached on a leadoff walk. On ball four, the pitch struck home plate umpire A.J. Lostaglio in the arm. He had to leave the game, and 16 minutes later, the contest resumed with first base umpire Jack Cox moving behind the plate and Tony Walsh entering the game as the first base umpire. Navin made it third with two outs, and Wood battled back to retire Vince Conde on a grounder back to the mound to keep Georgia in front 1-0.
Vanderbilt (30-25) broke through in the third with a two-out rally. After Wood struck out the first two hitters, Mike Yastrzemski was hit by a pitch, Anthony Gomez collected a hit and Conrad Gregor drew a walk to load the bases. Then, Navin lined a two-run single up the middle to give the Commodores a 2-1 advantage. Left fielder Jack Lupo followed and worked a full count before Wood struck him out to end the frame. Georgia missed a chance to tie the game in the fifth. Verdin led off with a base hit and collected his second stolen base of the night. He went to third on a Conor Welton groundout. With the corner infielders in, Powell hit a sharp grounder to first baseman Conrad Gregor, and he fired home to get Verdin who was running on contact.
In the bottom of the fifth, Vanderbilt extended its lead to 3-1 on a run-scoring single by Gomez. Then with two outs and runners at the corners, Georgia lifted Wood in favor of right-hander Jay Swinford. Wood (7-3) had 92 pitches at that point and allowed three runs on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Swinford retired Lupo to keep it a two-run contest. With one on and one out in the sixth, Vanderbilt went to its bullpen, bringing in left-hander Brian Miller. VerHagen gave the Commodores 5.1 innings and allowed just one run on five hits with no walks and one strikeout to improve to 6-2. Kemp made it 4-1 with a two-out RBI-single off senior Chase Hawkins in the sixth. Miller blanked the Bulldogs the rest of the way, allowing just one hit with three strikeouts for his fifth save.
Georgia will face Auburn (30-27) in an elimination game Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. ET on CSS. The Tigers fell to second-ranked Florida 6-1 earlier in the day.