By Peter Bartlett

It was an emotional weekend in Athens, Georgia as the UGA Bulldogs were set to face off against the Northern Kentucky Norse in a three game weekend series. The Bulldogs returned from a dominant showing in their first road game at Georgia State University and were looking to stay perfect. They did so, taking all three games against the Norse, and etched some breathtaking moments into our memories here early in the season.

Game one started with an amazing performance by the Bulldog offense which scored ten runs in the first inning. It was the first ten run inning at home since 2020 against UMASS, and it was highlighted by a three-run home run hammered by Dylan Goldstein. Five more runs would be scored in the subsequent six innings including a two-run double by Clayton Chadwick that stretched the Bulldog’s lead to 10 going into the seventh inning, and the game was called due to the mercy rule.

Charlie Goldstein was the man on the mound in game one and he matched his offense’s dominant showing with one of his own. Goldstein lasted 5.0 innings, allowed  only one run and notched seven strikeouts, tying his career high for the second time in as many starts this season. Blake Gillepsie relieved Goldstein for 1.0 inning and allowed four runs to be scored off two home runs. Brian Zeldin helped put the finishing touches on game one, securing a 15-5 game one victory for UGA.

Game two was much more eventful and nail biting for the Dawgs as they escaped with a walk-off thriller, winning 7-6. Christian Mracna got his second start on the mound and performed well, pitching 3.1 innings of shutout baseball. Zach Harris came in for relief allowing one run to score in his 0.2 innings of work. Kolten Smith then took the Dawgs the rest of the way, pitching an impressive 6.0 innings of relief which allowed him to score the win, despite allowing five runs.

The Bulldogs had started fast in game two, jumping out to a 2-0 lead after an RBI single by Fernando Gonzalez and a one run home run off the bat of Charlie Condon. But the offense went on a rare cold stretch, not scoring for four consecutive innings, leaving thirteen men on base as the Dawgs watched their lead evaporate. They entered the bottom of the ninth inning down 6-3.

But then the Dawgs finally found their stride. They showed patience at the plate allowing for two men to walk. Then shortstop Kolby Branch rocketed a game tying three-run home run into the outfield and the stands erupted. Fans hardly had time to catch their breath because the Bulldogs went back-to-back. Dillon Carter deposited the game winning run over the right field wall. 

The Bulldogs did not have to wait long to see their second walk off victory of the season as it came the following day in game three of the series. UGA won a well fought battle 12-11, sweeping the series and advancing to 7-0 on the year.

Leighton Finley toed the slab to start, lasting 3.0 innings, allowing four runs, and striking out three batters. Josh Roberge then stood in relief lasting 2.2 innings. He allowed the Norse to score an additional four runs, while striking out four more. Tyler McLoughin, Brandt Prancer, and Brian Zeldin would get the Dawgs the rest of the way, surrendering three more runs between them.

The offense was in full form in game three, as the Dawgs went back-to-back-to-back for the first time since 2021 in the bottom of the fifth, including home runs from Logan Jordan, Branch, and Tre Phillips, who recorded his first career hit with the Dawgs in breathtaking fashion. The inning also saw a two-run home run by Carter as well as an RBI double by Condon. 

The Norse did not disappear, however, and tied the game at 11 in the top of the ninth with an RBI single off the bat of Mitch Wood. UGA was not deterred. The Bulldogs loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Phillips continued his amazing day, getting hit by a pitch, for his third-straight at bat, and driving in the game winning run.

“Complacency is just something that you allow to creep into your mind, so we can’t do that,” head coach Wes Johnson said when asked about how to stay focused in light of such success in the clubhouse. 

While this weekend challenged the Dawgs, it no doubt matured them and brought them together as a clubhouse. They look to continue their perfect streak on Tuesday as they host Presbyterian.