Auburn pitchers walked nine Bulldog hitters and that contributed greatly to Georgia's offensive production in the victory. Coach Tommy Slater said that starter Josh Sullivan and the relievers couldn't find the strike zone on Saturday and that was the difference in the game.
"Nine walks, you can't do that against anybody," Slater said. "Good teams or bad teams. We have to do a better job of commanding the strike zone. It's something we've done all year long, but today for whatever reason very few of our guys we ran out there were able to find the strike zone. We've got to do a better job of that."
Josh Sullivan had perhaps his worst outing of the season against Georgia on Saturday.
Things began with the outing by Sullivan. Struggling from the first inning on to find his rhythm, the junior had his worst start of the senior and only lasted four innings before being replaced by Jared Shore. Slater said they had an idea before the start that it might be a long day for the Little Rock, Ark. native.
"Even in the bullpen before the game Matty (Matt Myers) said he was all over the place for whatever reason," Slater said. "He's been good every single time out, but today was without question his worst outing of the year. He's such a competitor he didn't want to come out, but he was at 90 pitches after four innings. He's such a big part of everything we do, he'll bounce back. He's such a stud. He'll be ready to go next week."
The game got off to a good start for the Tigers as ,leading things off, Tyler Johnstone singled to left field and advanced to second on a wild pitch. The junior second baseman then moved to third on a fly ball by Clete Thomas into center field. A walk to Josh Bell followed to give the Tigers runners on the corners with Karl Amonite coming to the plate. Doing his job, Amonite hit a long fly ball into center field for an out that scored Johnstone for the early Auburn job.
The Tigers added to the lead in the second inning as a one-out walk to Josh Donaldson put things in motion. Executing a perfect hit and run, Bruce Edwards singled through the right side to put runners on the corners with still just one out. Adam Stacey was up next for the Tigers and he continued his hot streak with a single up the middle to score Donaldson and move Edwards around to third. Johnstone then bunted a ball up the first base line that Ruthven fielded and threw to the plate in time to cut down Edwards for the second out of the inning. Thomas followed with a single that scored Stacey from second to give Auburn a 3-0 lead heading to the bottom of the second.
Sullivan once again survived trouble in the second, but he wouldn't be as fortunate in the third thanks to the pitcher's worst enemy, the walk. Back-to-back walks to Jonathan Wyatt and Justin Neifer got things started for the Bulldogs and brought Bobby Felmy to the plate. Auburn's nemesis all weekend, Felmy singled up the middle to load the bases with nobody out and bring Josh Morris to the plate. Sullivan got Morris to ground out to Johnstone at third where he went to the bag to get the force. The play allowed the first Georgia run to score, but they weren't done.
Following a Joey Side strikeout, Jason Jacobs singled to right field and Thomas came up throwing from the outfield. Throwing a strike, it appeared Thomas had done the job, but Bell couldn't hold on to the ball and Felmy was safe with run two of the inning. The final run scored on a passed ball by Bell that Morris scored easily on from third base to tie the game at three. Georgia added two more runs in the fourth inning on a two-run shot by Felmy to take a 5-3 advantage.
In the fifth Johnstone led off with a single and Thomas was hit by a pitch to follow as Auburn got the first two batters aboard against Startup with the heart of the order coming to the plate. Looking to stay out of the double play, Auburn started the runners and had a successful double steal to put two in scoring position. Following a Bell strikeout, Amonite hit his second sacrifice fly of the game to plate Johnstone. The Tigers added another single run in the sixth to tie the game as Donaldson doubled with one out in the inning and another Stacey singled scored him to make it 5-5 going to the bottom of the sixth.
With Cardwell on the mound the Bulldogs went right to the short game as Matthew Dunn reached on a bunt single to get the inning off to a good start and Wyatt walked to put Auburn in serious trouble. A sacrifice bunt moved both runners over and with Felmy coming to the plate the Tigers had no option but to walk him and load the bases with Morris coming to the plate. That was the end of the day for Cardwell as Madden came on. The move paid immediate dividends as Madden struck out Morris on three pitches, but Side dribbled a single up the middle to score both Dunn and Wyatt and make it 7-5 Bulldogs. Mitchell Boggs made the lead stand up the rest of the way as the Tigers couldn't cut into the advantage and dropped game two.