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Georgia blasts UNC-Wilmington 11-2 to advance to NCAA regional final

On3 imageby:Jake Rowe06/01/24

JakeMRowe

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia is headed to the NCAA Regional finals after hammering UNC-Wilmington 11-2 on Saturday night. The Bulldogs blasted a pair of home runs and pitched out of multiple jams to move to 2-0 as the host of the regional.

Kolten Smith got the start but did not get the win as he went 4.1 innings and allowed two earned runs on six walks and four hits while striking out five. DJ Radtke earned his first win of the season as Slate Alford went three for five at the dish and Kolby Branch had a big fly and drove in four.

Georgia drew first blood with its first batter of the game. Lead-off man Corey Collins blasted a 415 home run, his 19th of the season, to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.

That lead didn’t last long as the Seahawks evened it up with their first hitter in the second. Clean-up man Trevor Marsh blasted an opposite field home run to lead off the top of the fourth, his 15th of the season, to tie the game at one. The Seahawks threatened to get more with runners on 1st and 2nd and no outs, but Smith pitched out of it with three straight strikeouts.

The home half of the second saw the Bulldogs go right back to work. Georgia loaded the bases with a single, a hit-by-pitch, a fielder’s choice, and a walk, bringing up nine-hole hitter Branch. The former Baylor shortstop made UGA history by belting his fourth grand slam of the season to make it 5-1 in favor of the Bulldogs. It was Georgia’s 12th grand slam of the season, also a school record. That marked the end of the day for UNC-Wilmington starter Jacob Shaffer, who lasted just one and a third innings, giving up two home runs and five earned runs. He was replaced by Case Stroup.

After a quick third frame, Smith found himself in trouble again in the fourth. After striking out the first two batters of the inning, Smith allowed a single and followed that with two straight walks to load the bases. The brought leadoff hitter Jac Croom to the plate, who lifted a foul pop up to third. It appeared as if the ball was going to get out of play but Charlie Condon reached over the fence and brought it back to end the inning.

The Bulldogs added to their lead in the bottom half of the inning as Clayton Chadwick, Collins, and Condon were all hit by pitches. Dylan Goldstein came to the plate with the bases loaded, fell behind 0-2, but lifted a sacrifice fly to left to make it 6-1 for the Bulldogs.

Smith would leave the game in the fifth after walking the first two batters. He called the trainer to the mound and was taken out. Wes Johnson called upon sophomore Radtke. He didn’t get Georgia out of the inning unscathed but he limited the damage. Radtke struck out the first batter he faced, walked the second, and struck out the third before giving up an infield single from Brock Wills. That plated one run and cut the Georgia lead to 6-2. The next batter popped out to catcher Fernando Gonzalez to end the inning.

Stroup was bounced in the bottom of the fifth after Georgia got two on with two out. The Seahawks turned to Cole Benton who got a ground ball down the third-base line but a bad throw from Croom spelled even worse news for UNC-Wilmington. It allowed Branch to reach safely and got away from the first baseman. The Bulldogs plated two on the play to make the lead 8-2.

Radtke pitched a scoreless sixth before exiting with a six-run lead. Josh Roberge entered the game for Georgia, his first appearance in the regional.

The Bulldogs got their ninth run in the seventh inning thanks to some savvy base runner from Chadwick. He singled to center with one out and moved to second on a wild pitch. The senior outfielder then stole third and scored one pitch later on a wild pitch that barely got away from the catcher. Chadwick got a tremendous jump on the ball in the dirt and beat the catcher to the plate to give Georgia a 9-2 lead.

Cyle Phelan entered the game for UNC-Wilmington in the bottom of the eighth and he was greeted by singles from Goldstein and Alford. After Tre Phelps flew to right, Dillon Carter walked to load the bases. Gonzalez came up next and walked to make it 10-2 and Chadwick was hit by a pitch to push the Georgia lead to 11-2. That was it for Phelan as Connor Marshburn was called out of the bullpen. He got Branch to hit into an unusual 5-2 double play to end the inning.

Johnson turned to Christian Mracna to pitch the ninth. He tossed a scoreless frame despite allowing a pair of hits. He struck out the side to end it.

Georgia, with wins over Army and UNC-Wilmington, will play in game one of the regional final on Sunday night at 6 p.m. ET. They’ll play the winner of Georgia Tech and UNC-Wilmington, a game set for 12 p.m. ET on Sunday. If the Bulldogs win, they’ll host the winner of the NC State regional in Athens next weekend. If not, they’ll get another crack at it on Monday.

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