Doggone Bulldogs: Two-run double in 8th sinks Hogs

By: Bob Holt
Published: Friday, May 24, 2019
Georgia pitcher Aaron Schunk (right) and catcher Mason Meadows celebrate following a 3-1 victory over Arkansas during an SEC Tournament game Thursday, May 23, 2019, in Hoover, Ala.
Photo by Ben Goff
Georgia pitcher Aaron Schunk (right) and catcher Mason Meadows celebrate following a 3-1 victory over Arkansas during an SEC Tournament game Thursday, May 23, 2019, in Hoover, Ala.

HOOVER, Ala. -- A perfectly placed double by Patrick Sullivan helped lift Georgia to a 3-1 victory over the University of Arkansas baseball team Thursday night in the SEC Tournament at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.

Sullivan, the Bulldogs' left-handed-hitting junior first baseman, poked a 2-2 fastball from Razorbacks right-hander Jacob Kostyshock down the left-field line for a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the eighth inning that put Georgia ahead 3-1.

"He had ton of run on his ball, so I was on top of the plate," Sullivan said of Kostyshock. "Really, I was just trying to battle.

"I kind of caught it off the end, but I got lucky and it found a hole. I'll take it."

The ball fell in front of freshman left fielder Christian Franklin, who looked as if he was undecided whether to dive for the ball. He then jumped too high after it hit the ground and didn't field it cleanly as Aaron Schunk scored from third base and Cam Shepherd from second.

"He's made some incredible catches for us this year leaving his feet," Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said of Franklin. "I don't feel like he felt like he could get to it, so he didn't want to dive and the ball get by him."

The Bulldogs likely would have scored two runs, Van Horn said, if Franklin had dove and the ball got by him.

"So probably in that case, time of the game, I would have liked to see him leave his feet just to see what [would] happen," Van Horn said.

Kostyshock's pitch on Sullivan's double was away, Van Horn said, but a little too high.

"It needed to be down," Van Horn said. "If he gets it down, he gets a strikeout and he'd tell you that.

"He pitched pretty good, though. Almost got out of the jam."

Schunk started Georgia's eighth inning rally with a leadoff double and advanced to third on a groundout by LJ Talley. Kostyshock struck out John Cable swinging, then intentionally walked Cam Shepherd, who stole second base.

"Kind of looked like they were going to get out of that jam," Georgia Coach Scott Stricklin said. "Then Patrick found a way to get that ball to drop. That was a big at-bat, and that's [a] big win for our program."

The Razorbacks (41-16) got the tying runs on base in the ninth inning when Jack Kenley hit a two-out single off Ryan Webb and pinch-hitter Zack Plunkett singled off Schunk -- who came in from third base to pitch -- sending Kenley to third.

Jacob Nesbit got a 3-0 count against Schunk, who came back to strike him out swinging to earn his 12th save this season.

"The go-ahead run's at the plate and Schunk goes to 3-0, then gets strike one, 3-1 slider strike two, 3-2 slider strike three," Stricklin said. "That's his go-to pitch and he's able to throw it 3-1 and 3-2 with the game on the line."

Van Horn said he thought Schunk balked.

"We felt like we had a run in there, we could have advanced," Van Horn said. "But they didn't call it and [Nesbit] ended up striking out two pitches later.

"It was good to see us battle there in the ninth. We were just one big hit away."

The No. 5 Razorbacks play Ole Miss (35-24) in an elimination game at 3 p.m. today with the winner staying alive to play No. 6 Georgia (44-14) on Saturday.

Arkansas will need to win three games the next three days to claim its first SEC Tournament championship.

"I'm just worried about tomorrow and we'll go from there," Van Horn said. "I have to get through tomorrow first. I don't even know who or when or how many we have to play after tomorrow."

Arkansas junior right-hander Isaiah Campbell, the team's No. 1 starter, pitched five scoreless innings against Georgia, then came out of the game so he'll be ready for NCAA regional play next weekend.

Georgia freshman right-hander Cole Wilcox started and threw 6 1/3 innings, holding Arkansas to 1 run, 3 hits and 4 walks with 5 strikeouts.

"Cole can throw a slider a changeup behind in the count, and he's throwing 98 miles an hour [on his fastball]," Stricklin said. "But it's It's not just fastball, fastball, fastball.

"When you throw that hard, you're tempted to just try to throw it by people. In this league you can't do it. You've got to still be able to pitch. Cole can really pitch."

After the Razorbacks got runners on first and second base against Wilcox in the seventh inning when Kenley reached on a throwing error by Shepherd -- a shortstop who made his third error this season and first against an SEC team -- and walk to Nesbit, Georgia went to Webb, and he got Franklin to ground into a double play.

Georgia tied it 1-1 with a run in the seventh inning off Kole Ramage. Shepherd hit a leadoff single, went to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Sullivan and scored on pinch-hitter Connor Tate's double.

"Connor came up with the big hit," Stricklin said. "I thought that gave us some life. It was a huge hit for us to tie it up, and then the bullpen took over."

Arkansas took a 1-0 lead in the third inning with the help of two wild pitches by Wilcox. Nesbit hit a one-out double and went to third on a wild pitch. Franklin followed with walk. Nesbit then scored on a wild pitch.

Franklin advanced to second base on the wild pitch and got to third on Trevor Ezell's groundout, but he was left on base when Wilcox struck out Casey Martin looking.

The Razorbacks were 2 of 11 with runners on base and managed five hits. Their top four hitters --Ezell, Martin, Matt Goodheart and Dominic Fletcher -- were a combined 0 of 15 with seven strikeouts.

"Well, I'd like to see base hits," Van Horn said when asked about Arkansas being 0 of 6 with runners in on second or third base. "I don't know what else I can tell you.

"Obviously, we needed to do a better job, but I just need to see some guys hit the ball hard with runners in scoring position."

Sports on 05/24/2019

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