Georgia is playing to host an NCAA regional, last-place Missouri is playing to extend its season and get a spot in the SEC Tournament.
Desperation won out on Thursday night with the Tigers putting a hurt on the No. 25-ranked Bulldogs in more ways than one at Foley Field, 11-3.
Georgia coach Scott Stricklin said it was a “3 1/2-hour root canal” watching his veteran team play uncharacteristically “awful” baseball.
Missouri pitcher Christian Wall (5-5) fanned a career-high 12 batters in seven innings, while the Tigers’ hitters were tearing up seven different UGA pitchers with 13 hits, and seven bases on balls and four batters reaching base after getting hit by pitches.
The Bulldogs (34-19, 14-14 SEC) look to turn things around at 6:30 p.m. on Friday against Missouri (27-22, 9-19) with ace Johnathan Cannon (9-2, 3.01 ERA) on the mound.
“We need to come back and be the team that we are,” Stricklin said, “because I didn’t recognize that team tonight.”
The hard-luck theme that has plagued Georgia baseball resurfaced on Thursday night with three players leaving the game with injuries.
Starting pitcher Nolan Crisp left the game after just 21 pitches, exiting the game with what’s believed to be a strained muscle.
Stricklin said it’s too early to know the recovery window, but with the start of NCAA regionals two weeks away its concerning.
There was an even more immediate scare when Garrett Blaylock was hit in the face with a pitch in the eighth inning.
“It got him in the eye, (but) the good news is the eye seems to be OK,” Stricklin said, adding that there’s swelling and Blaylock will have X-Rays to further examine his orbital bone.
Catcher Fernando Gonzalez re-aggravated a wrist injury, Stricklin said, and is questionable for Friday.
There wasn’t much mystery in Thursday night’s game with Missouri taking control early.
Luke Mann blasted a grand slam in the third inning — after hitting a solo home run in the first inning —to give the Tigers a 7-1 lead.
Georgia, despite a three-hit performance from Parks Harber and two hits from Ben Anderson and Cole Tate, could not rally.
Harber, a sophomore from The Westminster School in Atlanta, brought the right mindset into the game and it carried over into his performance.
“For any team, you want to get hot at the right time and play your best baseball in May and June,” Harbet said. “We need a big weekend. We want to keep playing baseball in Athens.”