The second-ranked University of Georgia baseball team defeated seventh-ranked Vanderbilt on Sunday 3-1 to win the series 2-1. Georgia has now won their first four SEC series for the first time since 2008, the last time the Bulldogs made an appearance in the College World Series.
The series win pushes the Bulldogs record to 27-6, 9-3 in SEC play. That is the best start for the Bulldogs’ program since 2009. Pitcher Tony Locey said he’s known since the fall that this team would be good.
“It’s been a long time coming, and Georgia’s at the spot that Georgia should be,” Locey said.
The Bulldogs had to bounce back in the series after losing game one 3-2 in extra innings on Friday. This is the second time this season that the Bulldogs dropped a top 10 conference opener and came back to win the series. Coach Scott Stricklin said having a veteran team helps when falling behind early in a big series.
“Our team is really really tough,” Stricklin said. “They’re resilient, and I think it showed up.”
The Bulldogs have found a variety of ways to win this season, and on Saturday, they did so with their bats coming out with an 8-3 win. Georgia is now 26-1 on the season when scoring three or more runs in a game.
On Sunday, Locey and the defense were the difference-makers. Locey tied his career-high pitching seven innings, and tossed a team-high 117 pitches. He earned five strikeouts and only allowed one hit on the day. The Georgia coaching staff leaned on their starting pitchers throughout the weekend to save their relief pitchers’ arms.
“We told the starters ‘hey, we’re going to take the leash off of you and let you go a little bit,'” Stricklin said.
Zac Kristofak, a junior for the Bulldogs, earned the save after pitching the final two innings. Kristofak had two strikeouts and did not allow any hits.
Georgia will face Georgia Tech at home on Tuesday at 7 p.m. before traveling to play Tennessee in a road series Thursday-Saturday. Stricklin said the team can’t think about the success they’ve had so far, but have to find ways to win the next game.
“We know what we’re capable of doing,” Locey said. “We have one of the best teams in the country, and we all know we are.”
Luke Gamble is a senior majoring in journalism at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.