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Georgia takes gut punch in Super Regional opener, falls to NC State

Palmber-Thombsby:Palmer Thombs06/08/24


ATHENS, Ga. — To say it wasn’t Georgia’s day on Saturday feels like an understatement. The Bulldog bats struggled to get going while the starting pitching put UGA in a big hole early. All it amounted to was an 18-1 NC State win in Game One of the Athens Super Regional and a gut punch to Georgia’s dreams of advancing to the College World Series.

After a quiet first inning for both teams, NC State had a loud top of the second. Brandon Butterworth led off with a single off the end of his bat to center field and advanced to third on a ball through the right side. Then, Luke Nixon brought Butterworth home for the game’s first run with a well placed bunt.

That wasn’t all for the Wolfpack though. Eight straight hits including a three-run double by Noah Soles and a two-run blast by Eli Serrano made it 6-0 State before the first out was recorded.

That wasn’t all either. A fielder’s choice and a throwing error combined with a missed opportunity in the outfield made it 7-0 Wolfpack, sending starter Kolten Smith packing and bringing on the Bulldog bullpen much earlier than desired.

Chandler Marsh entered with the bases loaded and recorded the inning’s first out on a strikeout. Four more would score before things were over though as Nixon and Soles brought home two more each to make it 11-0 NC State.

A 1-2-3 second inning for Georgia sent the Bulldogs back to the field, and just when it seemed they were about to escape the third unscathed, Jacob Cozart had other ideas in mind. A two-strike, two-out towering home run to right field added another to the NC State total. Then, in the fifth, it was another run scored with two outs on the board already, making it 13-0 Wolfpack.

The Bulldogs finally got on the board in the fifth after Fernando Gonzalez doubled to left for just Georgia’s second hit of the game. He would score later on a two-out single to right field by longtime teammate Corey Collins.

An error in the sixth perfectly summarized the day for the Bulldogs as catcher Henry Hunter, who entered for Gonzalez to start the inning, overthrew his pitcher on the return and allowed a run to score.

NC State poured on another pair in the seventh with a Garrett Pennington home run and a passed ball. Back to back ninth inning home runs by Alec Makarewicz and Cozart, his second, brought the score to its final total on the day: 18-1 State.

Georgia managed to record just four hits in total with guys like Charlie Condon, Dylan Goldstein, Tre Phelps, Dillon Carter and Clayton Chadwick going hitless. It’s the fewest hits for the Bulldogs since they recorded just three in back-to-back games against Kentucky at the start of SEC play.

While the scoreboard is wiped clean tomorrow, Georgia will have its backs against a wall in the best-of-three series. A loss on Sunday would end UGA’s season while a win would bring about a winner-take-all finale on Monday.

The Bulldogs and Wolfpack do battle once again at 12:00 p.m. ET on ESPNU. Starting pitchers have not been named, but UGA is expected to throw right-handed sophomore Leighton Finley with all hands on deck to keep the dream of a trip to Omaha alive.

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