UGA Sports Communications
ATLANTA – One step forward, another step back.
That unfortunately seems to be the motif for Scott Stricklin’s baseball team, which dropped its series to Missouri after the Tigers rolled to a 6-1 win Saturday afternoon at SunTrust Park.
“You win this series with Missouri, you’re right there (in the standings) and you’ve got the tiebreaker,” Stricklin said. “We were in position to win this series. We just didn’t get it done.”
Frustrating? You bet.
One week after taking two of three from Tennessee, the Bulldogs (14-19, 4-8) had hoped to use the series as a springboard up the SEC East standings.
After beating the Tigers (23-9, 6-6) 3-0 on Thursday, the Bulldogs appeared to be on their way to doing just that, but now must find a way to make that happen beginning with next weekend’s trip to Arkansas, followed by back-to-back home series against Vanderbilt and Florida – not exactly an easy task.
“You get in this thing to win games. So yeah, it’s frustrating. I felt we had a chance to be in a very different positon than we are now,” Stricklin added. “Those close one-run games really hurt us early in the year and I think our kids got a little bit tentative. They’re certainly pressing a little bit. It’s not from a lack of effort, I can tell you that. We’ve just got to regroup and get ready to play on Tuesday.”
So, what now?
With the toughest part of their schedule still to come, the chances of Georgia breaking its four-year losing skid under Stricklin would appear unlikely, unless the young Bulldogs find the consistency needed to find sustained success.
“I think you’re seeing the young guys grow up but you’re still seeing some inconsistencies. That’s pretty normal when you’ve got those young kids,” said Stricklin, who started five freshmen against Mizzou. “They’re going to have their ups and downs but they’re certainly not freshmen anymore. I felt we had a chance to be a pretty darn good defensive team but we haven’t played well defensively and that’s been disappointing. That’s something we’ve got to improve on and get better as we move forward.”
On Saturday, Georgia’s Chase Adkins and Missouri’s Bryce Montes De Oca initially found themselves locked in a pitcher’s duel, but it was the Bulldogs who broke through to start on a sacrifice fly by Adam Sasser for a 1-0 lead.
However, the lead did not last for long.
In the fourth, Adkins allowed the first two batters to reach to set up right field Tray Harris, who lined a 2-1 pitch over the fence in left for a three-run home run, which ultimately chased Adkins (4-3) in favor of lefty Ryan Avidano.
Avidano did his part, tossing three scoreless innings to keep the Bulldogs in the game, that is until the Tigers tacked on three more runs in the eighth off closer Blake Cairnes to put the game away.
Offensively, Georgia’s bats had no answers against Montes De Oca (3-1) and reliever TJ Sikkema, who combined to scatter just four hits, striking out nine. Sikkema allowed just two hits over the final three innings to earn his fourth save.
NOTE: Saturday’s announced crowd of 33,025 was the second-largest ever to watch and NCAA college baseball game. … First baseman Adam Sasser received a scare after crashing head first in the concrete floor trying to catch a foul ball in the eighth inning. “He’s fine but he had a bloody face and a bloody mouth. He went right into the seats,” Stricklin said. “It was a great effort by him for sure. I’m just glad he’s OK. It was really scary. I thought he broke his nose or something.” … Stricklin said he’s leaning toward Blakely Brown taking over for Kevin Smith as the Saturday starter following the sophomore’s eight-strikeout performance in Friday night’s loss to Mizzou. “That’s a possibility. He threw 80 pitches the other day and I was anxious to see how he felt today,” Stricklin said. “His last two times out have been really good, so he deserves a lot of consideration.”