Georgia baseball scores school-record 16 runs in eighth inning, crushes Auburn 24-7

Georgia infielder Sebastian Murillo (2) during Georgia’s game against South Carolina at Foley Field in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Mar. 18, 2023. (Kari Hodges/UGAAA)
Kari Hodges

Georgia baseball scored its first SEC win of the season, and the Bulldogs did it in a loud and convincing fashion at Auburn.

UGA pounded out a 24-7 victory, scoring a school-record 16 runs in the eighth inning to improve to 15-9 overall and 1-5 in the SEC.

The Tigers (16-7-1, 2-4) had taken the first two games of the series at Plainsman Park by scores of 7-6 and 6-3.

The Bulldogs appeared to take out the frustration of their first five conference games and avoided a sweep.

UGA batted around twice in the inning to run-rule the Tigers.

“We definitely needed it,” UGA coach Scott Stricklin said on 960 The Ref. “We’ve dug ourselves a hole, let’s not kid about it.

“Now, we’ve got to dig out of it, and hopefully, that started today.”

RBI singles from Corey Collins and Mason LaPlante started the scoring frenzy for the Bulldogs. The eight inning’s first 13 runs came off a medley of singles, free bases, and a double before Connor Tate displayed the ‘pop’ in Georgia’s lineup.

Georgia rectified several of the key mistakes that cost it in the series’ first two games.

The same Bulldog lineup that hit 6 for 29 with runners in scoring position on Thursday and Friday was 11-for-20 hitting on Saturday.

UGA also protected an early 3-0 lead, which it failed to do in the two losses.

It was far from a cheery weekend for Georgia, but its ability to build on an early lead while holding off an SEC lineup should provide some momentum entering next week.

Georgia will try to further bolster its nonconference resume by sweeping Georgia Southern at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at Foley Field. The Bulldogs beat the Eagles (11-11, 3-1 SBC) by scores of 17-11 and 9-4 two weeks ago.

Sweeping Georgia Southern, which hosted an NCAA Regional last season, can cover for some of UGA’s struggles in the country’s top conference.

But the Bulldogs will likely need to beat some top 25 SEC teams and avoid sweeps if they want to earn an NCAA Tournament bid.

A slew of simple mistakes allowed Auburn to win Game One and kept Georgia from staging a comeback in Game Two.

Stricklin said that Kolten Smith will likely open a bullpen game against the Eagles. Smith, who is working back from a stomach bug, is expected to start next Sunday against Vanderbilt as Stricklin continues his search for a No. 3 weekend starter.

Indeed, the Bulldogs were a strike - and then an errant throw - away from beating Auburn on Thursday night and winning the series.

RELATED: Georgia baseball ninth inning collapse leads to loss at Auburn

A pair of base running blunders shorted the Bulldogs two potential runs in Game Two.

A 1-5 start to SEC action is certainly less than ideal for Georgia, but Saturday’s win could have been its most important game yet.

Taking back-to-back sweeps to start the conference slate would be devastating enough on its own without considering UGA’s upcoming schedule. The Bulldogs’ last eight SEC opponents are all ranked in the top 25.

Georgia also avoided the mental frustration that two winless weekends to start SEC play could cause.

“It was a little bit of a tough weekend, a tough start,” catcher Corey Collins said. “But that just shows what we have in us and we’ve just got to trust it.”

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