Rare Triple Play Sparks #5 Georgia to Series Win vs #21 Missouri
By. Andrew Rodberg (Twitter/www.twitter.com/404thebeat)
ATHENS, Georgia — An unconventional first inning series of plays gave #5 Georgia their first triple play in 56 years and set the tone for yet another SEC series win. With their eyes set on another SEC series win (5) the Dawgs sent out CJ Smith to take on Missouri’s Art Joven.
In doing so, the Tigers jumped on Smith in the first as he was unable to command his pitches and left too many of them over the plate. With that being said, Missouri rattled off three consecutive singles to load the bases with no one out. With Smith in a pickle (so to speak), he needed to rely on the defense behind him to pick him up and stop the bleeding.
No one stepped up as big as RF Riley King who tracked down a deep fly ball and caught it at the wall as he secured out #1. He then threw it back to the infield to Patrick Sullivan who was able to tag out the runner returning to first base causing a double play. With a runner on third, before the play, Coach Strickland motioned for the ball to be tossed to Aaron Schunk who was standing at 3rd base as he believed the runner didn’t tag up after the catch. As the ball got to Schunk, the 3rd base umpire called the runner out which ended the Tigers threat and gave the Dawgs a rare triple play.
From that moment on, all the momentum looked to be shifting to Georgia, as they returned the favor in the bottom of the 1st. Two consecutive walks to start their afternoon caused Missouri’s pitcher to become more focused on the runners than the batter at the plate. As one would say, Georgia took advantage of the situation and built a huge lead. Courtesy of back to back doubles by Aaron Schunk and LJ Talley gave the Dawgs a 4-0 lead. With the Tigers sensing the game slipping away from them, they decided to pull Joven and bring in a middle reliever in Konnor Ash who ended the inning holding the Dawgs to only four runs.
As for CJ Smith, he returned in the 2nd inning and began to get a feel for the strike zone. An unfortunate single, followed by a walk, gave the Tigers two base-runners and Missouri’s Paul Gomez at the plate. Gomez delivered a blow when he poked a ball into the gap in center field to bring in the two runners and cut the Dawgs lead in half 4-2. Following that double, Smith honed in and took over the game not allowing another hit until the fifth inning. In the bottom half of the 2nd, the Dawgs added an insurance run courtesy of a solo home-run by Tucker Maxwell. After hitting a batter and giving up a single in the fifth, the Dawgs ended CJ Smith’s outing. (Smith ended with 4IP, 6 hits, 2ER, 2BB and 2K’s)
The Dawgs then turned to reliever Cole Wilcox to stop the Tigers’ threat. Wilcox came in and enforced his will on the Missouri offense as he struck out his first three batters and didn’t look back. Through innings 5-8, Wilcox had the ball and did what he does best…work his secondary pitches so then he could blow his signature fastball by everyone. In doing so, he gave up a single, walk and double but none really became a threat as he kept the Tigers at bay. (Wilcox ended his outing with 4IP, 2 hits, 0ER, 1BB, 5K’s)
As the Dawgs began to smell victory, they brought in their closer (and two-way player) Aaron Schunk to pitch the ninth. Schunk looking for his 11th save of 2019, made sure he wouldn’t be denied as he struck out two and forced a fly-out to end the game and secure the Dawgs 32nd win of 2019. (Schunk ended his outing with 1IP, 1hit, 0ER, 0BB, 2 K’s)
The Dawgs now look for the series sweep with first pitch set for 12:00 noon on the SEC Network.
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