Athens, GA - Georgia’s defense committed three errors Saturday helping Alabama to a 6-3 victory over the Bulldogs at Foley Field.
Georgia (8-15, 0-5 SEC) entered the weekend ranked third in the league in fielding at .979, but the Bulldogs have committed five errors during the series and stranded 18 runners to drop their seventh in a row. Alabama (15-9, 4-1 SEC) has made a number of exceptional defensive plays to thwart potential big innings.
Georgia threatened to get on the board first for the second day in a row after Nelson Ward and Curt Powell reached on back-to-back singles in the bottom of the first. However, Alabama starter Jon Keller was able to escape by forcing Jared Walsh to fly out to center field with two outs and the bases loaded. Powell’s single extended his hit streak to five games.
The Bulldogs loaded the bases again in the bottom of the second inning, but this time ended with one run. J.T. Phillips led off the inning with an infield single then later scored on a sacrifice fly by Powell to put Georgia up 1-0.
Alabama was able to get on the board in the top of the fourth inning thanks to a two- run single by Cameron Carlisle. Ben Moore led off the inning and reached base on a throwing error by Curt Powell from third. The Tide were then able to load the bases thanks to a single by Brett Booth and a one out walk by Kyle Overstreet before Carlisle’s single that scored Moore and Booth.
The Tide weren’t done there as Mikey White followed Carlisle with an RBI single into right center field, scoring Overstreet for the third run of the inning with just one out. The Bulldogs were finally able to end the inning on a terrific catch and throw double play by left fielder Cody Sheedy that caught Carlisle at home trying to tag up from third.
Alabama then was able to extend their lead again in the top of the sixth in a bizarre play. After leading off the inning with an infield single, Booth advance to second on a passed ball. Austen Smith then hit a routine grounder to Kyle Farmer at short, who elected to throw to third in an attempt to retire Booth who was trying to advance. Powell then threw to Ward at second, who threw back to Farmer at third; however, Farmer was unable to make the tag as Booth stumbled into third. Booth then sprinted home and scored after noticing that the catcher, Brett DeLoach, had come to third base to back up the run down and no one was covering home.
After allowing the next batter, Overstreet, to single into right field and advance Smith to third, Georgia starter Patrick Boling was pulled in favor of reliever Jarrett Brown. Boling finished the day allowing five runs, just two earned, on five hits with one strike out and four walks through five and a third innings pitched. He got the loss to fall to 1-3.
The Tide were able to tack on one more run in the top of the sixth thanks to a throwing error from DeLoach on an attempt to catch Smith in a pickle after trying to tag up on a pop out to right field by Carlisle. The two-run sixth gave Alabama a 5-1 lead, with only three of their five runs coming from errors by Georgia’s defense and a mental miscue on the failed rundown attempt.
The Bulldogs offense was able to threaten the Alabama lead in the bottom of the seventh inning after Keller walked three straight batters to load the bases with just one out and Powell and Farmer due up. Alabama elected to pull Keller for reliever Keaton Haack who struck out Powell, then forced Farmer to ground into an inning ending fielder’s choice. Keller ended his day with a win, allowing just one earned run on six hits, with four strikeouts and four walks through six and a third innings pitched. He improved to 3-2.
For the second game in a row, the Bulldogs put together a late offensive charge in the bottom of the ninth in hopes of completing a comeback. After retiring the first two batters of the inning, Haack surrendered a single to Ward and then walked Powell. Farmer then laced a double down the left field line that scored Ward, and also extended his hit streak to nine games. Hunter Cole then lined an RBI single up the middle to cut the lead to three. Unfortunately Haack was able to stop a comebacker from DeLoach and make the throw to first to record the final out of the ball game. Haack notched his first save.
“We made some mistakes again today, and what’s concerning me is we’re leaving to many guys on base and our starters are walking to many,” said Georgia coach David Perno. “Alabama does a good job of two-strike hitting and has made some great plays defensively in the series. Some of their hits are finding holes too, but we’ve had our opportunities the past two days. I think Sean (McLaughlin) and Patrick (Boling) have tried to go for the strikeout and Alabama battles at the plate. I was encouraged how Jarrett Brown and Luke Crumley came in out of the bullpen.”
The Bulldogs look to avoid a sweep and capture their first conference win of the 2013 campaign Sunday at 2 p.m. at Foley Field.