By Peter Bartlett

It was a big weekend in Athens as UGA looked to assert themselves in conference play, having recently reentered the top 25 poll, placed at number 24, according to They looked to defend and improve this new status as they hosted a conference opponent, the Ole Miss Rebels, for a three game series at Foley Field.

Game one took place on Friday evening and saw Georgia’s offense continue its season long dominance, leading to a 17-6 victory and a mercy rule call that ended the game in the 8th inning. Leighton Finley got the start and was awarded the victory, lasting 5.0 innings, allowing six earned runs and striking out four. Outside of two innings in which the Rebels were able to put up crooked numbers, Finley was strong and helped contain the Ole Miss offense. Brian Zeldin stepped in in the sixth inning and took the ball club the rest of the way, lasting 3.0 innings, striking out three and not allowing a single hit or run.

Though the Dawgs faced an early 3-0 deficit, their bats were not deterred and lit up the field with seventeen total hits, including doubles from Charlie Condon, Clayton Chadwick, and Fernando Gonzalez. Gonzalez had a career high four hit performance, collecting three RBIs and representing three runs. Kolby Branch and Slate Alford both added on to their home run totals, with Alford going deep twice including a walk-off grand slam.

UGA was able to take advantage of several mistakes by the Rebels, who had four errors and five batters hit by pitches enabling an already hot offense to work with men on base. Such was the case in the 8th inning when a HBP allowed the bases to be loaded for Alford with a chance to win the game due to the mercy rule coming into play. Alford would take full advantage of the juiced bases, rocketing his second homer to deep right, ending an exciting night of baseball.

Game two was the first of a doubleheader on Saturday, and saw much less offense as two solid pitching staffs dueled. The Dawgs would eventually break through and win 7-2 clinching a series victory. Christian Mrcana started for Georgia and pitched a gem lasting 3.2 innings, only allowing two hits, no earned runs, and striking out five. Josh Roberge was called on in relief and lasted 2.0 innings allowing just two earned runs. Kolten Smith finished the day for the Dawgs lasting 3.1 innings, striking out six and not allowing a single base runner. Smith was awarded the win on a great day of pitching from the entire staff.

The Dawgs were held scoreless through 4.2 innings of play until Condon broke through and showed why he is considered a top five draft pick, hitting a two-run blast into deep left field. Condon hit another two-run homer in the seventh to give the lead back to the Dawgs. Dylan Goldstein followed suit, hitting his own two-run homer into right, widening the gap between the Dawgs and Rebels. Kolby Branch then went back to back hitting a moon shot into deep left making the score 7-2, where it remained for the game.

The Dawgs were unable to sweep the series, dropping game three later that evening 3-2. Game three saw the Bulldogs use their bullpen as opposed to a traditional starter. Six relievers were used in the losing effort including Matthew Hoskins, Charlie Goldstein, Jarvis Evans, Luke Wiltrakis, Daniel Padysak, and Brian Zeldin. It was a great day for the K as the Dawgs were able to strike out thirteen batters in this hard fought game. They only allowed three earned runs but did not receive much run support and thus came up just a bit short. Luke Wiltrakis was credited with the loss.

Perhaps owing to fatigue from playing in a doubleheader, the Dawgs did not score an earned run in this effort. Their first run was scored due to error when Condon successfully stole third and the throw-in from the catcher was mishandled, allowing Condon to jog home easily. Later in the bottom of the 7th with the bases loaded, Dylan Goldstein would score the Dawgs’s second run on a fielder’s choice and error. But the Dawgs were unable to rally and dropped the last game of the series. 

The Dawgs are now 29-10, and 9-9 in conference play. They are currently projected to be a two seed in the tournament, reflecting an impressive turnaround led by first-year head coach Wes Johnson. They will look to continue their march towards the postseason as they host the sixth ranked Clemson Tigers this Tuesday.