ATHENS, Ga. – Freshman Sean McLaughlin recorded career highs with six innings pitched and seven strikeouts to lead Georgia to a 12-0 victory over Liberty on Friday evening at Foley Field.
McLaughlin improves to 3-0 on the season, while Georgia pulls within one game of .500 at 6-7. Liberty drops to 9-4 on the year, as Carson Herndon took the loss after allowing three runs on eight hits through 3.2 innings of work. A trio of Bulldogs combined on a four-hit shutout, the first for Georgia since blanking Vanderbilt 1-0 last year in Nashville.
Senior Kyle Farmer went 3-5 on the night with a double, four RBIs and one run scored. The double marked the eight of this season and 59th of his career, tying him for fourth all-time in career doubles on the Georgia charts along with Gordon Beckham. The four-RBI night also marked the sixth time in Farmer’s career that he has accomplished such a feat.
The Bulldogs recorded 15 total hits, including three from both Farmer and Curt Powell, and two apiece from Jared Walsh and Zack Bowers. Walsh recorded two doubles on the evening to go along with two RBIs and two runs scored, while Bowers also recorded two RBIs, two runs scored and a team-leading fourth home run of the season.
“We had good balance tonight in the lineup, and Sean continues to impress in his role as the Friday night starter,” said Georgia coach David Perno. He’s unique, a freshman who is having fun and is a competitor. Our battery tonight was freshmen in Sean and Zack (Bowers) who are showing they have a chance to be special. It’s going to be fun to watch them the next few years. We got some big hits tonight, several guys swung the bats well.”
After a scoreless first two innings for both teams, McLaughlin retired the Flames in order to start the third before the Georgia offense broke through for a run in the bottom half of the inning. Ward started the scoring with a one-out single to center, and Powell followed with a single of his own to right that moved Ward around to third. Ward then came home to score on a sacrifice fly to center by Farmer that gave the Bulldogs the early 1-0 lead.
Bowers launched a solo home run deep over the left field wall in the fourth inning to extend the Georgia lead to 2-0. Ward drew a two-out walk two batters later and advanced to second as Powell beat out an infield single to the shortstop. Farmer followed with his second RBI of the night, singling to left field to score Ward and give Georgia a 3-0 advantage.
After a scoreless fifth and sixth innings for both teams, senior Blake Dieterich entered the game in relief in the seventh, recording a pair of strikeouts and allowing no runs, despite a passed ball and an error that left two runners in scoring position.
Georgia exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the seventh, as Farmer led off with a single to right and Hunter Cole followed with a walk. Two outs later, Walsh doubled for the second time of the evening, this time to left field, to plate both Farmer and Cole. Walsh advanced to third on a wild pitch and would go on to score off an RBI single to left by Bowers, extending the Bulldogs’ lead to 6-0.
After a pitching change for the Flames, a pair of back-to-back walks drawn by D.J. Smith and Ward loaded the bases for Georgia. Powell promptly launched a two-RBI single to center, scoring Bowers and Smith. Following another Liberty pitching change, Farmer picked up his third and fourth RBIs of the night off a double to left that plated Powell and Ward.
Dieterich held the Flames scoreless in the eighth before the Bulldogs added a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame off RBIs by Smith and Ward that scored Phillips and Walsh. Redshirt sophomore righty Ross Ripple entered the game in the top of the ninth, allowing no runs and no hits while recording one strikeout to preserve the shutout victory for the Bulldogs.
Georgia continues the series with Liberty Saturday at Foley Field with first pitch set for 3 p.m.