By Peter Bartlett

The stars were shining bright on Tuesday night, as 4,183 people filed into Foley field to witness a Top 25 bout between the No. 20 ranked Georgia Bulldogs and the No. 5 ranked Clemson Tigers. The season record’s attendance was treated to an exciting heavyweight clash that saw no shortage of highlight reel plays and an eventual 4-3 Georgia victory. The matchup would be incredibly hard fought on both sides causing the game to bleed into extra-innings, finally finishing in the bottom of the 15th inning after 5 hours and 31 minutes of game play.

Zach Harris began the day for the Bulldogs on what was scheduled to be a bullpen day. Harris performed admirably lasting 2.2 innings, allowing just three hits, two earned runs and striking out two. Josh Roberge was first up for the Dawgs in relief and performed well, lasting an additional 1.1 innings, striking out two and allowing one earned run. Clemson’s homer into right off of Roberge in the top of the fourth would be the last run they tallied for the night, despite the game lasting an additional 11 innings. 

UGA’s bullpen clamped down in unbelievable fashion, allowing only six more hits while striking out seventeen more Tiger batters. Over the course of the game the Dawgs used 10 pitchers in this extensive battle including; Daniel Padysak, Jarvis Evans, DJ Radtke, Coleman Willis, Kolten Smith, Charlie Goldstein, Christian Mracna, and Chandler Marsh. Marsh was awarded the win for his 1.2 innings of relief in which he struck out five and did not allow a single baserunner.

Georgia’s offense was tasked with a hard job, facing the 10th ranked pitching staff in terms of earned run average in the Clemson Tigers. The Dawgs, who average just above nine runs per game, did not score an earned run until the seventh inning. The Dawgs fought hard to scratch across runs, not hitting a single extra base hit all game. Corey Collins led the way picking up two RBIs off of singles in both the seventh and ninth innings. Collins’ second single tied the game late, as Trey King crossed home plate easily. Charlie Condon, who represented the winning run, tried to win the game, following King towards home plate, but a perfect throw from right field nailed him at home, sending the game into extras.

The game then hit a stand still, as no runs were scored for the next five innings of play. Neither pitching staff seemed to blink at being plunged into extra innings. The matchup seemed eerily reminiscent of a 2019 matchup between the Tigers and Dawgs which lasted 20 innings of play and finished at 1 am in Foley Field with a Dawgs walk off win. Though not lasting quite as long, this matchup saw the same ending.

The Dawgs were patient throughout extras, loading the bases in the bottom of the 15th off of two walks and a hit by pitch. With the winning run represented by Paul Toetz ninety feet away, the Clemson pitching staff finally showed signs of weakness, throwing a wild pitch into the dirt, allowing Toetz to advance and the Dawgs to win.

This victory is an impressive landmark for UGA to put on their resume, downing a Top 5 out-of-conference rival. They communicated to the baseball world that they are a program who can duke it out with the best in the country, even without the brilliant bat of projected first overall pick Condon, who went just 1-4 in this matchup. 

Wes Johnson has turned the culture of this program on its head in less than a year of coaching, sending the Dawgs into the national spotlight while serving as both their head coach and pitching coach. The road doesn’t get any easier, however, as the Dawgs are now set to face the No. 1 ranked Texas A&M Aggies on the road for a three game series this weekend.