ATHENS — Fourth-ranked Georgia fell 3-2 in 11 innings to fifth-ranked Vanderbilt to open an SEC series Friday at Foley Field in front of a crowd of 3,188.
The Commodores (24-6, 7-3 SEC) rallied off junior All-American closer Aaron Schunk as pinch-hitter Walker Grisanti connected for a game-tying solo home run in the ninth. Then in the 11th, shortstop Ethan Paul delivered his fourth home run of the year to make it 3-2. It marked the first blown save for Schunk (1-1) on the year as he entered the series 10-for-10 in converting save opportunities this year.
“I didn’t get it down enough. That was on me," Shunk said. "I just have to get ready for the next one and try to get it done. Emerson Hancock works really hard, he didn’t have everything today but he found a way to get it done. He kept us in that game the whole time. He’s a phenomenal pitcher and a phenomenal kid so he’s going to keep us in ball games.”
The pitching duel between UGA sophomore right-handed pitcher Emerson Hancock and Vanderbilt junior pitcher Drake Fellows was a typical Friday night in the SEC. Hancock shut down the high-powered Commodore offense, pitching seven innings and striking out eight batters, while only allowing four hits and one run. Fellows threw seven innings, yielding five hits, two runs, and striking out six batters.
With one out in the third inning, Bulldog junior shortstop Cam Shepherd singled, followed by sophomore left fielder Riley King getting hit by the pitch, setting up Georgia with runners on 1stand 2nd. Senior second baseman LJ Talley came through, singling up the middle to give Georgia a 1-0 lead as Shepherd scored. Then, senior designated hitter John Cable, hit a line drive single to left-centerfield scoring King and extended Georgia’s lead to 2-0. Vanderbilt responded with an RBI single off the bat of junior Ty Duvall in the sixth inning, making it a 2-1 ballgame. After Zac Kristofak took care of the eighth inning, the Bulldogs looked to Schunk in the ninth inning.
Georgia put runners in scoring position in the final two frames but Commodore closer Tyler Brown (1-0) earned the win with two scoreless innings and three strikeouts.
Game two of the series will be at 2 p.m. and be available via stream on SEC Network+ and broadcast on the Georgia Bulldog Sports Network.
“Tomorrow is a big one," Georgia coach Scott Stricklin said. "It is a chance to even up the series and get momentum into Sunday. It is a swing game so we have to come back tomorrow ready to play. This is a tough loss, but we battled and competed. We just have to come back tomorrow ready to even the series up.”
-- With an RBI single in the third inning, senior LJ Talley record his 40thhit of the year - a team high. On the single he also picked up his 20thRBI on the year.
- With sophomore right-handed pitcher Emerson Hancock pitching seven innings he has now pitched seven innings in all four of his outings against SEC opponents.
-- Freshman Chaney Rogers was the only Bulldog with multiple hits. It was his second multi-hit game on his career.
-- Georgia is now 1-1 in extra inning games this season, both in the SEC.
Georgia and Vanderbilt continue the weekend series Saturday with first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m. at Foley Field.