ATHENS — Ranked No. 2 in the nation, it might not seem possible for Georgia baseball to soar even higher.
But that’s exactly what happened on Tuesday afternoon when previously sidelined players Patrick Sullivan and Mason Meadows returned to the lineup for a 12-2 win over Georgia Tech.
“To be able to get them in, and get them out cleanly, they played well, and now they have some confidence moving forward,” UGA coach Scott Stricklin said. “Patrick has been out three weeks. Mason has been out two weeks, so playing nine innings was going to be difficult for them.
“It’s a really comforting feeling to be able to move some guys around now that we have everybody back.”
Meadows, a preseason All-SEC pick at catcher, thought his season could be over after suffering facial fractures when he fouled a pitch off into his face in a March 24 game against LSU.
“I went to the hospital on Sunday and got a CAT Scan and the doctor told me ‘You’re definitely going to need surgery,’ “ said Meadows, who played the first six innings versus Tech. “Then I went in to see a surgeon on Tuesday expecting to go under the knife in the next couple days. That’s when he came in and he was like, ‘Mason, I think it’s a miracle.’
“He told me then he was about 75 percent sure that I wasn’t going to need surgery, then I came back a week later, and he’s like ‘You’re good to play.’ “
Atlanta Braves’ catcher Tyler Flowers — like Meadows, from Roswell, Ga., — sent the custom style mask he designed to UGA for Meadows to use, aiding in the return.
A week earlier Sullivan had suffered a concussion in the field and was out indefinitely.
“It has been frustrating to watch, but it’s also been exciting because we’ve played really well,” said Sullivan, who cheered his teammates on as they went 8-4 with him sidelined. “We’ve had a lot of guys banged up and people have stepped up. It shows we have a lot of good players.”
Sullivan, still with some sensitivity to light, marked his return by hitting a home run in his first at-bat and playing errorless ball at first base.
“For Patrick to come in and hit a home run like that, and then hit a ball in the opposite gap, I mean he barreled it up,” UGA coach Scott Stricklin said. “Just had some positive at-bats and made a couple of plays and he looked comfortable.”
Georgia coach Scott Stricklin said it might have been the team’s best all-around performance of the year, as the Bulldogs improved to 28-6 — their best start since 2009.
Georgia, which also sits atop the SEC with a 9-3 league mark, heads to Knoxville for a three-game series against Tennessee.
The Bulldogs’ pitching staff has a 2.83 ERA, which ranks eighth in the nation, and the defense is on pace to set a school record for fielding percentage at .981.
Georgia baseball C Mason Meadows