CLEMSON, S.C.-----Georgia blasted three home runs en route to tasting victory at Clemson Wednesday and snapping a nine-game losing streak with a 5-3 decision in front of 5,156 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium .
The Bulldogs (9-17) split the two-game series with the Tigers (16-9) who registered a 9-1 win in Athens on Tuesday. Sophomore Ross Ripple earned his first win of the season by pitching a career-high 3.1 innings in relief. It was his second win over the Tigers after beating them last year out of the bullpen too. Clemon starter Brody Koerner got the loss to fall to 0-1. Bulldog sophomore Jared Walsh hit a home run and then collected a save by pitching the ninth. It was the second time this year he has done that.
Sophomore Nelson Ward led off the game with his third triple of the year to cap a 10-pitch at bat. However, he was thrown out at home when he was running on contact as Hunter Cole grounded one to third. Two batters later with two outs, senior Kyle Farmer gave the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead. He smashed his first home run of the year in to the seats in left field near the “Foley Fanatics,” a group of more than 50 Bulldogs fans who took a bus over from Athens compliments of the Georgia promotions department. Clemson pushed a run across in the third as freshman David Gonzalez issued a pair of one-out walks and then an RBI-single to Steven Duggar. The Bulldogs turned to their bullpen and Ripple. The right-hander helped turn a double play to maintain Georgia’s edge.
In the sixth, Cole connected for his third home run of the year, this one off Tiger reliever Zack Erwin who entered the game with a 0.59 ERA on the season in 15.1 innings. It gave the Bulldogs a 3-1 advantage. The Tigers got the run back in their half of the frame after Ripple retired the first two batters. Garrett Boulware lined a single, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on a base hit by Jon McGibbon. Ripple gave the Bulldogs a career-high 3.1 innings before giving way to freshman Palmer Betts. McGibbon registered the single off Betts’ first offering to make it 3-2.
Georgia reclaimed a two-run advantage with a Tiger miscue with two outs in the seventh. After Erwin struck out the first two Bulldogs, Ward reached on a single. The Tigers lifted Erwin in favor of Clate Schmidt. Cole followed with a single as Ward raced to third. Then on a 1-2 count to Curt Powell, Schmidt balked, allowing Ward to score to make it 4-2.
In the eighth, Walsh crushed Joseph Moorefield’s first and only pitch of the contest in to the seats in right field for a 5-2 advantage. It was the third home run of the night for the Bulldogs and the second of the year for Walsh. Junior right-hander Dylan Cole came on for the Bulldogs and took care of the Tigers on five pitches. In the ninth, Georgia brought in its closer in Walsh. After a leadoff walk, he retired the next two Tigers before surrendering a run-scoring double to Tyler Krieger. Then he walked Tyler Slaton to bring up Duggar. Walsh battled back to strike him out as the Bulldogs got to celebrate their first win since March 12.
“I was proud of the guys tonight, they hung in there and got a tough win on the road, and this makes the drive home tonight and the bus ride to Kentucky Thursday a lot easier for everybody,” said Georgia coach David Perno. “Coming in this season, I thought we would hit for some power, and it showed up tonight. We pitched a lot of the younger guys tonight, and they gained some confidence with this win.”
The Bulldogs return to action Friday in Lexington, Ky., for the first of a three-game Southeastern Conference series against eighth-ranked Kentucky (19-5, 4-2 SEC).