Bulldogs blank Yellow Jackets 1-0
ATHENS, Ga. – With two outs in the bottom of the ninth of a scoreless game, Brandon Stephens delivered a run-scoring-single to delight the Foley Field faithful on a chilly Tuesday night as the Bulldogs posted a walk-off win over rival Georgia Tech.
The Bulldogs move to 6-6 on the season while the Yellow Jackets drop to 7-5 in the first of three meetings between the two teams this season. The walk-off base hit was Stephens’ second of his career (The first coming in a 2011 NCAA Regional win over Creighton in Corvallis, Ore.). On Tuesday with the temperature in the high 30s most of the night, pinch runner Sean McLaughlin scored the winning run after stealing second base and advancing to third on an errant throw by Yellow Jacket catcher Mitch Earnest. McLaughlin replaced sophomore Zack Bowers (3-for-3) after a walk with one out in the ninth.
“Zack (Bowers) had a great at-bat in the ninth inning drawing that walk,” Georgia coach Scott Stricklin said. “We knew Sean (McLaughlin) was going to pinch run for us if we got someone on base. We were going to be aggressive and try and steal. We were lucky to get that error; I was hoping for a passed ball or wild pitch. We were fortunate for Brandon Stephens to come through and get that hit up the middle.”
Georgia got a big lift from freshman starter Robert Tyler, who went a career-high eight scoreless innings, notching five strikeouts while allowing just two hits and a walk in his second start of the season. Junior Jared Cheek (2-2) picked up the win for the Bulldogs after striking out two in a scoreless top of the ninth.
“Robert Tyler was lights out going eight innings like that,” Stricklin said. “He was nearly unhittable tonight. Their guys (Alex) Cruz and (Jonathan) Roberts did a nice job as well. We knew it was going to be tough to hit in this weather so we were expecting a pitcher’s duel. We were fortunate enough to get that run in the ninth inning.”
Tech senior Alex Cruz went five scoreless innings giving up five hits, a walk and two strikeouts. He was relieved by Jonathan Roberts who gave Georgia Tech three more innings of scoreless ball while recording two strikeouts. Tanner Shelton (0-1) was charged with the loss after getting the first two outs and leaving Bowers on first. Dusty Isaacs gave up the single to Stephens to end it.
Bowers recorded his second three-hit game of the season along with the deciding walk in the ninth. Nelson Ward and Hunter Cole also both reached base for the 12th time this season, remaining the only two on the team to reach base in every game.
The Bulldogs continue their 16-game home stand Wednesday against Charleston Southern at 6 p.m.