Athens, GA - After building a five-run lead, the Georgia Bulldogs held off the Missouri Tigers for a 6-5 SEC victory Saturday in front of a season-high crowd of 2,679 at Foley Field.
Georgia (12-20, 2-9 SEC) jumped ahead 5-0 thanks to strong hitting from the top of the order and a good outing from freshman starter Sean McLaughlin. He improved to 4-2, allowing one earned run on four hits with no walks and four strikeouts in five innings.
However, Missouri (10-17, 3-8 SEC) fought back to pull within one run, and Georgia had to employ four relief pitchers in the last four innings to keep the Tigers at bay.
The Bulldogs made good use of their first at-bat, scoring one run off a sacrifice fly from Kyle Farmer and a second off a Jared Walsh (2-4, 2 RBI) double down the first base line. Farmer and Walsh duplicated their efforts in the third inning, as another combination of sacrifice fly and base hit put Georgia up 4-0.
Curt Powell (3-5, RBI) made it 5-0 in the fourth with a two-out blooper that dropped into shallow left, allowing J.T. Phillips to cross the plate. That was the end of the night for Missouri starter Brett Graves, who gave up seven hits while falling to 0-4 on the season.
The Tigers got on the board in the fifth after McLaughlin hit leadoff batter Kendall Keeton and threw two wild pitches that advanced him to third. Josh Lester then knocked him in with a sacrifice fly and Dillon Everett followed with a single, but McLaughlin was able to retire the next two batters to hold the tally at 5-1.
Ross Ripple replaced McLaughlin to start the sixth and quickly found himself in a jam, giving up two walks and a base hit to load the bases with no outs. After a sacrifice fly and infield hit produced two runs, Georgia turned to Luke Crumley. Missouri got one more score out of the situation before the reliever could retire the side and preserve a one-run lead.
The Bulldogs got another scare in the next inning when Crumley walked his first two batters, but redshirt freshman Mike Mancuso, making his SEC debut, entered the game and forced three straight outs.
Georgia added a run in the bottom of the frame thanks to a Missouri throwing error that allowed Farmer to score from second.
That extra score would prove to be crucial, as the Tigers were also able to plate an additional run in the top of the ninth before junior Dylan Cole closed out the game to earn his third save of the year, including second in the SEC.
“This was a big win for the guys, a must win after Friday, and I’m really proud of how they responded. We got a good start from Sean and then Mike Mancuso really stepped up for us until we got it to Dylan to finish,” said Georgia coach David Perno. “We got production from the top of the order, we tried to get some things going early, hitting and running, and we were able to get a few runs tonight.”
The series concludes Sunday with first pitch slated for 2 p.m.