Athens, GA - Georgia clinched a series with Binghamton Saturday after posting a 6-2 victory in front of 2,003 at Foley Field.
The Bulldogs (4-6) got five scoreless innings from their bullpen including three from junior right-hander Ross Ripple who picked up the victory. Bearcat starter Jake Cryts saw his record drop to 1-1 after allowing five runs on seven hits through the first four frames.
Offensively, Georgia was led by Conor Welton and Daniel Nichols who had three hits apiece. Freshman shortstop Mike Bell notched his first two career hits and RBI but had to leave the game in the seventh after tweaking a hamstring. The Bulldogs collected a season-high 13 hits in their latest win. Junior Jared Walsh saw his first action of the season, going 0-for-3 at the plate as the designated hitter and tossed one scoreless inning.
A four-run fourth inning for Georgia was the big blow that gave the Bulldogs the lead they would not relinquish. The Bulldogs trailed 2-1 going into the bottom of the fourth. A leadoff walk to Jess Posey followed by Stephen Wrenn getting hit with a pitch ignited the rally of Cryts. Daniel Nichols’ second single of the day plated Posey from second to tie the game. Bell recorded the first hit of his career, a bunt single, which loaded the bases with no outs. Nelson Ward broke the tie with a groundout to first making it 3-2, but the damage came with Welton’s two-run single. Welton proceeded to steal second and advance to third when the catcher’s throw sailed into center but was left there after the Bulldogs were unable to produce another hit.
The pitching staff for the Bulldogs combined to limit the Bearcats to eight hits and two runs. Starter, Sean McLaughlin, went four innings yielding five hits, two runs while having two strikeouts and a walk. Ripple (1-0) notched the win with three scoreless innings in relief giving up two hits and fanning two with one walk. Walsh and Pete Nagel closed the door with scoreless eighth and ninth innings, respectively.
“I’m happy we won the series, and now we have to finish it,” said Georgia coach Scott Stricklin. “We have to play with the same energy and focus. We had some success with the bottom of the order, they set the table, and we scored six runs today and had chances to score eight or nine. Binghamton is a good team, an NCAA Regional team from a year ago and they got everybody back in their lineup this season. It was good to see Jared (Walsh) out there; he was able knock the rust off a little bit. Unfortunately, Mike (Bell) who worked so hard to get back out there after the hand injury, now it looks like he is going to miss some time with a hamstring.”
The Bulldogs extended their lead to 6-2 in the sixth inning complimentary of Nichols’ leadoff double and Bell’s second bunt single of the day. An errant throw by Bearcats’ third baseman, David Schanz, allowed Nichols to score from second. However, the run didn’t come without a price as Bell grabbed his hamstring prior to hitting the bag. Cody McCance came in the game to spell Bell on the base paths as a pinch runner and stayed in the game to play second base while Ward shifted over to play shortstop. The run given up by Jextin Pugh was the only run he gave up in his 3.1 innings of relief for the Bearcats but he did cede six hits and a walk to Georgia.
The Bearcats struck first in the first inning on three straight two-out hits. Reed Gamache’s single to center plated Daniel Nevares but a strong throw from freshman Stephen Wrenn nabbed Thomas at home to end the threat with the Bulldogs down just 1-0. Binghamton recaptured the lead in the forth off a Brian Ruby double down the left field line that brought Gamache, who reached on a hit by pitch, around to score from first. McLaughlin displayed damage control as he stroke out John Howell and forced Eddie Posavec to fly out to the warning track to end the inning.
The final game of the series begins Sunday at 1 p.m. at Foley Field.