– By Sam Nichols –
The Georgia Bulldogs kept their postseason hopes alive by taking two of three games against the red-hot Tennessee Volunteers.
The series did not start as hoped for Georgia on Friday night at Foley Field, Tennessee took the victory in convincing fashion, 12-3.
Freshman right-hander Kolten Smith started on the mound for the Bulldogs, lasting 2.1 innings while giving up two total runs. He was followed by a crew of relievers, including Dalton Rhadans who tossed two scoreless innings. Nolan Crisp and Luke Wagner allowed five earned runs each.
Ben Anderson, Charlie Condon, and Will David notched two hits each and Cole Wagner tacked on a home run to bring his season total to six.
Game two was held at 2 p.m. on Saturday in front of a crowd of 3,852.
The game started unconventionally when Charlie Goldstein took the mound to start. On the second pitch of the game, Tennessee shortstop Maui Ahuna rolled a ground ball to the first base side. When Goldstein hustled off the mound to cover first base, he reached for his hamstring and could not make it in time, resulting in an infield hit. Goldstein could not continue.
At that moment, Georgia needed the “next man up” mentality that they have played with all season. That next man up was freshman pitcher Jarvis Evans.
Even though Evans was not expecting to get the call to enter the game with no outs in the first inning, it was evident that he was prepared. He tossed 5.1 innings of one-run baseball while striking out seven batters along the way; a career high.
“I was on the bench. I had just put a mouth full of seeds in. I was ready to watch some baseball, maybe come out of the ‘pen maybe later in the game if I was needed. The coaches have prepared us tremendously, so it’s just taking what we do in practice to the game,” Evans said.
Charlie Condon launched his team-leading 20th homer of the year, which tied the record for most home runs by a freshman at Georgia. He was one of five Bulldogs to tally two hits in Saturday’s contest.
Georgia’s clutch pitching and offense led to a 3-1 win, tying the series at one game a piece.
The rubber match between the Bulldogs and Volunteers took place at 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. Georgia was searching for a series win.
Junior Liam Sullivan started on the hill for the Bulldogs, but did not have his best outing of the season. Sullivan pitched 3.1 innings and surrendered six runs on four hits. With a short bullpen, Georgia needed a strong outing from the relievers to limit Tennessee’s offense.
Graduate Kyle Greenler relieved Sullivan and threw 2.2 innings. Colin Caldwell, Dalton Rhadans, and Leighton Finley followed Greenler. Once again, the Bulldog bullpen stepped up and allowed no runs on four hits in the remainder of the game.
Charlie Condon continued his astounding season by sending his 21st and 22nd home runs over the fence on Sunday. His second homer of the game tied Pedro Alvarez (22 home runs in 2006 for Vanderbilt) for most home runs by a freshman in SEC history.
Redshirt freshman Charlie Condon rounding third base after his record-tying home run on Sunday. (Kari Hodges/UGAAA)
“I remember after Tuesday’s game against Kennesaw State (Condon) didn’t have a good day. He was a little down at practice on Wednesday. I just, kind of, jokingly said ‘Hey you can’t be Superman everyday, that would be boring.’ And he goes, ‘No it wouldn’t coach, that would be awesome,’” Stricklin said.
Condon has been Superman for Georgia’s offense this season. Along with his 22 home runs, he boasts an average of .410 and has driven in 61 runs. Codon remained humble when asked about the record.
“It’s cool. Again, it’s just a number. We’ve got a lot of baseball left to play. It’s definitely cool to see your name up there, but we’re going to keep it rolling and try to get some wins out here,” Condon said.
Georgia’s dynamic offense was the key to clinching the series win on Sunday, 9-4. That brings their SEC record to 10-14 while being ranked 29th in the nation in RPI. The Bulldogs hope to pull away with a few more SEC wins after thier final two series of the year; at Missouri and LSU at home to round it off.
First, Georgia will battle South Carolina – Upstate, on Wednesday at Foley Field. First pitch will be at 6 p.m.