Liberty salvaged one game out its weekend series with Georgia.
But the Bulldogs reclaimed some dignity in the late innings.
Liberty rattled Georgia’s pitchers early and survived a late charge by the Bulldogs to win 11-8 on Sunday at Foley Field in Game 3 of the series.
Georgia scored all eight of its runs in the last two innings.
“It’s tough, it’s hard to come back from that many runs especially in the last two innings,” Georgia outfielder Hunter Cole said.
“We played hard. It was good effort at the plate. We had guys on base. But when you’re down that many, you’ve got to chip away earlier. We showed some life which is good instead of just rolling over. But overall, we’ve got to work this week and get a lot better.”
Georgia (7-8) outscored Liberty a combined 15-1 to win the first two games of the series. Georgia trailed 10-0 going into the final two innings of Game 3 but struck for six runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth with Cole providing the big blast with a three-run triple.
“It’s huge to come back,” Georgia designated hitter-catcher Brett DeLoach said. “It took us way too long to get our bats going at first. But it was good to see some fight in some guys and good to show that you’ve got some pride in the guys on the team. We didn’t make it happen early and some days it’s going to be like that. We’ve got to make sure with defense and pitching we can keep them at bay and if we need five or six runs, we can do it.”
Georgia outscored Liberty a combined 15-1 to win the first two games of the series. Georgia’s pitching absorbed some heavyweight punches from Liberty (10-5). The Bulldogs used eight pitchers and they combined to allow 16 hits, eight walks, three wild pitches and two hit batsmen which led to 11 runs, all earned. All eight of Georgia’s pitchers gave up at least one run.
“We couldn’t stop them no matter what we tried,” Georgia coach David Perno said. “We’ve got to shrink our pitching staff now. We’ve got to get ready for two midweek games and then obviously league play. A lot’s on me today from the standpoint of trying too many guys. I gave too many guys an opportunity But hey, you learn from it and simplify it. I think we’ve seen enough in these first 15 games to know who we can get out there on a consistent basis.”
Luke Crumley (1-2) allowed six hits and two runs with one walk in two innings to take the loss. The toughest inning came in the seventh when Liberty scored three times without connecting for a hit. Jarrett Brown, Grant Earls and Dylan Cole combined to allow five walks, a hit batsman and two wild pitches in the inning and Liberty’s lead went from 5-0 to 8-0. Liberty left fielder Nick Lacik had three hits and three RBIs. Second baseman Bryan Aanderud had three hits, third baseman Dalton Sype had three hits and two RBIs while while center fielder Ryan Cordell added two more RBIs.
“In retrospect, I should have stuck with Crumley,” Perno said. “He gave up hits. That happens sometimes. They came with some urgency so tip your hat to Liberty. … We’ve got to get some consistent, steady pitching. If you get hit, you get hit. But we’re not going to walk people anymore. We’re not going to have that. We’re not going to put guys out there who don’t know where it’s going.”
Georgia’s offense was stagnant until the final two innings. Georgia hit into four double plays in the first seven innings. Liberty starter Trey Lambert (3-0) held Georgia to five hits and no runs in the first seven innings. Georgia finally got to him in the eighth but the damage was already done. Cole went 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Kyle Farmer was 2-for-5 with three RBIs. Curt Powell had three hits while Nelson Ward and Jared Walsh each had two hits for Georgia.
“It was extremely important to come back,” Cole said. “We were on the verge of getting shut out and nobody wants to do that. It was good to put some hits together with two outs and put some runs up on the board and build some confidence. Everybody was just kind of passing the bats back and letting the next guy get up there and hit. It was fun but we were just down too many.”
NOTEWORTHY: Georgia left fielder Cody Sheedy cut his hand on a post when he made a running catch in foul territory behind the Liberty bullpen. He took eight stitches but the injury is not expected to be longterm. … Ward extended his hitting streak to eight games and Powell extended his to 11 games. … Earls threw his first strike on his 11th pitch. He also got two-for-one when plunked both the batter and the home plate umpire with one pitch. … and plunked both the batter and the umpire on one effort.
Roger Clarkson covers Georgia baseball for onlineathens.com. Follow him on Twitter for updates at twitter.com/rogerclarksonoa