ATHENS-----Georgia registered a 10-8 win over Tennessee Thursday at Foley Field to clinch a spot in the SEC Tournament.
Bulldog sophomore left fielder Keegan McGovern enjoyed a career night, going 5-for-5 with a home run and four RBI while Daniel Nichols and Stephen Wrenn added three hits apiece to lead a 15-hit attack. Georgia improved to 27-27 overall and 11-17 in the SEC while Tennessee dropped to 27-27 (7-21 SEC).
McGovern became the first Bulldog since Johnathan Taylor in 2010 to go 5-for-5 in a game. Volunteer first baseman Jordan Rodgers went 4-for-5 while left fielder Vincent Jackson drove in four runs to highlight Tennessee’s offense.
Georgia erased an early 2-1 deficit in the third when Nichols tied the game with a two-out RBI-single and then surged ahead 4-2 on a two-run home run from McGovern. The Bulldogs broke open the contest with a five-run outburst in the fourth. Nichols and McGovern had run scoring doubles to key the rally as the Bulldogs built a 9-2 advantage.
However in the fifth, Tennessee responded with a four-run rally to close the gap to 9-6 and chase Bulldog starter Bo Tucker. He allowed five runs on five hits in 4.1 innings and gave way to junior Drew Moody. Georgia got a run back in the sixth on an RBI-single by Wrenn. Moody (2-3) went 1.2 innings for the victory while UT starter Will Neely allowed four runs on seven hits to fall to 1-3. Bulldog senior Heath Holder notched his first career save when he took care of the ninth.
“Every game is important for us down the stretch,” Georgia’s Ike Cousins baseball coach Scott Stricklin said. “Every win is going to count. Clinching the SEC Tournament is nice, but we still have our sights set on the NCAA Tournament. We need to get over .500 and these next two games are huge. We were going to do everything we could to win tonight. We brought Heath Holder in there to close. Blakely Brown was a huge key. Keegan McGovern had a great night. For us, Brown being able to shut things down in the seventh and eighth innings, when they were swinging it really well, was a big key to that win.”
“This win was huge,” McGovern added. “It was nice locking up the SEC Tournament, and now we have to try and lock up these next two and hopefully give us a chance to get on to the NCAA’s.”
Game two of the series will be Friday at 3 p.m. Please note the new start time as it has been moved up due to the possibility of inclement weather. Saturday’s game remains a noon start.