ATHENS — Georgia needed to get a lot out of its starting pitcher on Sunday, and Tim Elliott delivered.
The junior right-hander carried a no-hitter in the fourth inning and went the distance to record the Bulldogs’ first nine-inning, complete-game victory of the season. Georgia pitchers had thrown two other complete games this season, but they were 8- and 7-inning affairs.
“Definitely number one for me,” Elliott said of where the performance ranked in his career. “Especially the position we’re in right now, that definitely puts it on the top of my list. I’m really happy right now.”
It was all the top-seeded Bulldogs (46-16) could have hoped for. With the win, Georgia stays alive to face No. 3 seed Florida State tonight at 6 p.m. The Seminoles (38-21) beat the Bulldogs 12-3 in Saturday night’s winner’s bracket matchup.
Since the Seminoles remain undefeated in this double-elimination tournament, Georgia would have to beat them again tomorrow night to advance to next weekend’s super regionals.
It’s possible. The Bulldogs came out of the loser’s bracket to win a home regional in 2008 when Nick Montgomery threw a complete-game shutout against Georgia Tech for an 8-0 victory. Georgia went on to beat the Jackets 18-6 to win the regional, and then dispatched N.C. State in the Super Regional the next weekend to advance to the College World Seties.
Sunday’s performance continued Elliott’s strong late-season work for the Bulldogs. Georgia has won the last four games that he started. Normally the team’s mid-week starter, Elliott was pushed into a weekend role with the late-season back injury to C.J. Smith He improves to 7-3 on the season.
“He’s just really reliable, and we know what we’re going to get,” Georgia coach Scott Stricklin said. “It’s been fun to watch him grow up. He pitched a little as a freshman, as a sophomore he pitched a little more and gave us some mid-week help but just wasn’t there. But he just kept getting better and better and better. Here lately he’s been one of our best guys. …
“He was getting anybody out today. He was outstanding.”
For a while, Elliott was perfect. Even when he gave up his first hit in the fourth inning, the Bulldogs quickly wiped it away with a 4-6-3 double play. He had unleashed only 47 pitches through five innings and finished having thrown only 95 pitches.
More importantly, nobody else on the team threw one.
“Guys were really excited,” Stricklin said. “Once he got through the sixth inning, you look up at the pitch count and everybody knew we were going C-G out here. He never got in trouble. He was locked in and the guys were energized by that.”
The Bulldogs will start freshman Cole Wilcox in the nightcap and have their full bullpen at their disposal, minus Elliott and Emerson Hancock, Saturday night’s starter.
Not that they needed it, but the Bulldogs also produced a lot of offense, Aaron Schunk especially. The star third baseman hit two more homers Sunday — including a grand slam in the eighth inning — and finished with six RBI. That pushed his team-leading totals to 15 home runs and 58 RBI.
Georgia hit four home runs in the game, including Cam Shepherd, John Cable and Connor Tate.
That was great but, thanks to Ellliott, one was all the Bulldogs needed.