ATHENS — They play a lot of games in baseball, hence all the cliches about “it’s just another game” and “we just want to win the next one.”
But the Georgia Bulldogs kept their mundane catch phrases in their bat bags Tuesday night at Foley Field. After defeating rival Georgia Tech 7-1 — their first victory in the last four games in the series on their home turf — they didn’t mind letting loose with a little exhortation.
“It’s by far the best experience I’ve ever had on the mound,” said freshman pitcher David Sosebee, who started and pitched three scoreless innings to get the win. “I didn’t really understand the rivalry. It’s hard to understand when you’re up in the stands. But being down here in the dugout and being out there on the field is a totally different story. It’s such an adrenalin rush.”
Said center fielder Connor Welton, a sophomore out of Atlanta’s Wesleyan School: “I played with about 10 of their guys growing up. A couple of them went to my high school. We know all of them. So when you beat them it’s a good feeling.”
The game was the first of three this season in the annual home-home-neutral site series. The 18th-ranked Bulldogs, who took two of three from Tennessee in the SEC opener this past weekend, improve to 16-6 in time for this coming weekend’s series against Vanderbilt in Nashville.
The 15th-ranked Yellow Jackets fall to 15-6.
Sosebee (2-0), a right-hander from Cleveland, was one of six pitchers Georgia threw on what coach David Perno called a “staff night.” He combined with Chase Hawkins, Alex Wood, Pete Nagel, Jay Swinford and Blake Dietrich to record 11 strikeouts and give up eight hits and a single earned run in the sixth inning.
Levi Hyams went 2-for-4 at the plate, Curt Powell had two RBI on two hits and Brett DeLoach hit a mammoth solo home run.
“In all areas I thought that was probably our best game,” Perno said of the Bulldogs’ first win over a ranked team. “From a pitching standpoint we threw six different guys and they all did very well. We made some good plays and we put two big innings together and that’s a good formula.”
The difference in the game was two big innings. The Bulldogs put up a four-spot in the second inning when DeLoach led off with a rocket shot over the tops of the pine trees in left centerfield. Powell drove in a run and Tech errors led to two more unearned runs in the sixth.
The Bulldogs added three more runs on a pair of singles, two stolen bases and a wild pitch.
“If I tried to tell you it was just another game, I’d be lying,” said Powell, a third baseman who raised his average to .377. “We try to play every game like it’s our last one but this one is definitely special.”
It goes beyond beating an in-state rival for bragging rights. There are always other more tangible implications in this series.
“These are very important games,” Perno said. “It’s not just Georgia-Georgia Tech. You’re talking postseason implications, potentially host situations. So there’s a lot at stake in this series and that’s the way we like it.”