ATHENS-----Georgia came back from a three-run deficit to defeat Western Kentucky 8-6 Wednesday at Foley Field and extend its winning streak to 10 games heading into conference action.
After Western Kentucky (10-7) put up a run in the top of the first, the Bulldogs (12-6) tied it up in the bottom half of the inning. Georgia then quickly grabbed the lead in the second off of Cody McCance's RBI single to center field. Both the hit and the RBI were McCance's third of the season and gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 advantage.
The Hilltoppers surged ahead with four runs in the third inning, led by a two-run triple by left fielder Regan Flaherty. Georgia starter Mike Mancuso was pulled after the following batter, finishing with a line of five runs on seven hits, no walks and two strikeouts through 2.1 innings. Georgia’s bullpen tossed 6.2 innings and allowed just one run to secure another victory.
“The bullpen did a great job tonight,” said Georgia coach Scott Stricklin. Mike (Mancuso) pitched two good innings and then had some trouble in the third. Our bullpen came in on a night when we’re trying to get everybody ready for Friday and the start of SEC play and were all very effective. We had them on the ropes early, but it didn’t happen. Still, we found a way to get it done tonight. We got some momentum late and held on.”
After a scoreless third, the Bulldogs were able to push across one run in the bottom of the fourth off a Health Holder RBI single to cut the lead to 5-3. Holder finished 1-4 with two RBI, his first multi-RBI game of the season. Georgia regained the lead after a three-run sixth highlighted by Conor Welton's RBI double to left-center field. Hunter Cole (2-5) also had a RBI single to remain one of two Bulldogs to reach base in every game this season. Nelson Ward (0-4) reached on an error to keep the same streak alive.
The Bulldogs extended the lead to 8-5 in a two-run seventh inning off of Holder's sacrifice fly and Jess Posey's RBI bunt-single. During the inning, catcher Brandon Stephens notched his third hit, his first three-hit game of the season. The lead proved to be plenty for Georgia's pitching staff, who held the Hilltoppers to one run through the final six frames via five different pitchers.
Ross Ripple (2-0) picked up the win after going two scoreless innings, allowing a hit and two walks. Pete Nagel also picked up the save, the Bulldogs' first of the year. The Hilltoppers' Jackson Sowell was tabbed with the loss after allowing three runs (none earned) on one hit, two walks and a strikeout in 1.1 innings.
Sophomore Zack Bowers followed up Tuesday's big day at the plate (2-5, 2 HRs, 7 RBIs) with another productive night, finishing 2-4 with a double and two runs scored.
The Bulldogs begin SEC play at home on Friday against 24th-ranked Mississippi State at 7 p.m.