Georgia better hope that College of Charleston is better than the projections for the season, or this will be a long season. Picked to finish fourth in the Colonial Athletic Association, a conference not known for elite baseball prowess, Charleston stomped on Georgia’s throat the entire afternoon.
No matter how young the team is or what early stage of rebuild mode they’re in, getting overpowered by the College of Charleston at home looks bad, especially when it’s to the tune of 24-9 beat down over just two games.
Losing a series to the College of Charleston in the first weekend of the season won’t kill UGA’s chances for tournament contention, and nor will a sweep should they lose tomorrow. But the manner in which Georgia lost will make it difficult to believe this team has any real shot of contending.
Last season, the College of Charleston ranked 234th in batting average and tied for 100th in total runs scored in the NCAA. The Dawgs were unable to get anything going all afternoon on offense and unable to get the Cougars out at the plate, making for a long afternoon.
When the Dawgs lost Friday night, the light at the end of the tunnel was the confidence in Tony Locey to take the mound and turn the momentum around. Second basemen Will Proctor said in anticipation of Locey’s start, that when he walks on the mound there’s “a confidence and swagger that he carries, he knows he’s going to people out.”
After getting through the first inning with ease like Kevin Smith last night, Locey was crushed by a towering two-run homerun in the second, following it with another run allowed in the third.
The fourth inning, again, is when everything fell apart. Coach Stricklin said last night that giving free bases with walks and wild pitches needed to be corrected. It wasn’t fixed overnight, and it cost Georgia the game.
Locey walked the first batter, balked him over to second, walked the second batter and hit the third batter to load the bases. An outfield double from the third batter ended Locey’s Bulldog debut after just 3.0 IP, five hits and seven earned runs.
Locey’s swagger wasn’t enough to slow down the Cougars.
The bullpen looked even worse in relief, with eight walks and ten runs (two of which were credited to Locey) allowed. Even though the cleanup jobs were tough, they need to be much better than they were or no lead will be safe for UGA’s offense this season.
In addition to the pitching staff struggling as much as it did, the bats once again fell into lulls early in the game that made any possibility of a comeback unrealistic.
The Dawgs tallied a run in the third on Anthony Sasser’s homerun, the first hit of the game. After that, UGA managed to ping eight more hits, but couldn’t string them together to produce much. While the College of Charleston was doing its damage in the fourth and fifth inning, UGA put up goose eggs until putting up runs in the last three frames. By then, the damage had been done and the story on this game had been written.
Sasser was an offensive star on Saturday, recording his first three hit game in his Bulldog career. The big man had a career day at the plate, going 3-4 with 2 homeruns, three RBIs and scoring three times. Michael Curry also clocked in a solid day from the batter’s box with a two-run homerun, but without much help from the rest of the lineup, the Dawgs couldn’t keep up with Charleston.
Scoring five runs in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings saved the Dawgs some embarrassment, but they will need to be more consistent early on in ball games if the pitching doesn't get better.
The Cougars valued this series more than the Dawgs, and quite frankly played harder and cleaner than the home team. Trailing 15-1 after the fifth inning, Stricklin pulled team captain Keegan McGovern from left field and all infielders not named Anthony Sasser, because the game was seemingly lost and other players needed to get some playing time in.
“I know there’s a good team in that lockerrom, it’s just unfortunate we haven’t seen it yet,” said Stricklin after game. He also made light of the fact that the Dawgs lacked pride today, and confirmed that the Cougars wanted it more today than his squad.
Unless UGA comes out tomorrow afternoon and lights up the scoreboard the way Charleston has in the first two games, this series will be one of the most disappointing ways to start a season. Georgia will need to turn things around quick to establish purpose to the season, and they have that opportunity with games against Mercer, Georgia Southern and Kennessaw State next week.