Despite plenty of opportunities, Dawgs come up short against KSU
That basically sums up Georgia’s 5-4 loss to Kennesaw State Tuesday night at Foley Field, a game that saw the Bulldogs fail to take advantage of two bases loaded-one out situations and 10 walks by seven Owl pitchers.
That wasn't all.
Although six Georgia pitchers did their part by not walking a single batter, the fact the Bulldogs stranded 11 runners and went 1-for-12 with men in scoring position was enough to make head coach Scott Stricklin see red.
“If you had told me before the game that we were going to get 10 walks and not walk them one time – 10-0 in walks – and we’d lose, I’d have said you were full of it,” Stricklin said. “But that’s what happened.”
Twice, the Bulldogs loaded the bases with one out and failed to score, first in the second inning when Cam Shepherd bounced in a double-play on the first pitch he saw from reliever Brock Turner (1-0).
Georgia - which manged just five hits - wasted another opportunity in the seventh.
This time, the Bulldogs loaded the bases on a single by Aaron Schunk and a pair of walks. But once again, Georgia came empty, first on a strikeout by Adam Sasser before Will Proctor popped up a full-count pitch on a ball that looked to be high.
“I think as the game moved along, we had the bases loaded early and roll into a double play, and all of a sudden you get second and third again, bases loaded again and, yeah, I think maybe you start gripping the bat a little tighter,” Stricklin said. “But again, we had some veteran guys step to the plate in those positions, too. It’s going to take one hit to kind of change things, one hit, one little flair … something is going to happen to change this momentum that we have.”
Catcher Michael Curry agreed.
“It sucks. It’s frustrating but overall I thought we played well,” Curry said. “Our pitchers gave us a chance to win the game, but we couldn’t take advantage of it.”
Bulldog starter Christian Ryder (0-1) struggled during his four innings, allowing four earned runs, including a pair of home runs to Austin Upshaw and Forrest Bramlett.
Reliever Drew Moody didn’t fare much better, giving up a long home run to right in the sixth by Taylor Allum to push the Owls up 5-3.
Kennesaw State (5-3), meanwhile, had no qualms using every bullet in its pitching arsenal and, for the most part, it worked out.
That included the eighth inning when senior righty Erich Stahl came in with two outs and a runner at third to strike out Will Campbell for the third out after the Bulldogs scored a run on a wild pitch to draw within 5-4.
This was not the way Georgia hoped to start it’s 11-game home-stand, the team’s longest of the year.
With series’ upcoming against UAB, Xavier and Rider, the Bulldogs had hoped to use Tuesday’s contest as a spring board to a good start before kicking off SEC play on March 17 against LSU.
While that’s still possible, Georgia (3-5) needs to find some consistency – quick.
“We talked about that when we got off the bus on Sunday. We’ve got an opportunity to play 11 games, 10 now, and we need to make sure we play the way we’re capable of playing,” Stricklin said. “Today we did everything right except get the big hit, but those will come.”
Georgia hosts UAB for a three-game set beginning Friday.