Mikey White’s run-scoring single in the 11th inning rallied Alabama past Georgia 7-6 Friday in front of a Hoover Metropolitan Stadium crowd of 3,247.
The Bulldogs (19-16, 5-8 SEC) scored a run in the ninth to force extra innings and then took a 6-4 lead in the 10th, but Alabama responded with three runs over the final two innings off closer Jared Cheek. George Salem led off the bottom of the 11th with a double and scored on White’s walk-off single to take game one of an SEC series. The Tide improved to 17-15 overall and 5-8 in the SEC.
“We had opportunity after opportunity to score runs all night, and it was a good game to watch if you were in the stands but tough if you were in the dugout,” Georgia coach Scott Stricklin said. “Overall, we didn’t execute enough to win. We didn’t stop fighting and rallied to tie in the ninth and take a lead in the 10th off their best bullpen guys, but we didn’t do enough of the little things to win.”
The Bulldogs had a 3-2 lead going to the seventh and Alabama scored a pair of unearned run to surge ahead 4-3. With a runner at second and one out in the eighth, Casey Hughston lined a ball to second baseman Mike Bell who smothered it, but his underhanded throw to first was too high and he reached on the error. Salem was aboard after a leadoff walk and moved in to scoring position with a stolen base. Freshman left-hander Bo Tucker struck out Kyle Overstreet for the second out. However, Cody Henry (3-for-4, 3 RBI) continued a big night with a two-run double and a 4-3 lead.
In the ninth, Georgia tied the game on a sacrifice fly by senior Jared Walsh off Tide closer Thomas Burrows. The first three Bulldogs reached in the frame to set the table for Walsh. In the inning, Georgia executed a double steal to put runners at second and third for senior Brandon Stephens (3-for-6, 2 RBI). Georgia tried to score the go-ahead run on a shallow fly ball to center but instead it resulted in a double play to keep it 4-4.
The Bulldogs left 14 men on base Friday starting in the second when it loaded the bases with one out. Alabama left-hander Taylor Guilbeau came back to record strikeouts of Bell and DJ Smith to keep it a scoreless contest. Alabama responded by taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the frame courtesy of a run-scoring single by Chance Vincent. Bulldog right-hander Sean McLaughlin kept it 1-0 by eventually striking out the side as the Tide stranded a pair in scoring position. The Bulldogs tied the game in the top of the third. Nick King drew a leadoff walk, collected his 13th stolen base of the year and raced home on a two-out RBI-single from Stephens.
For the second straight inning, the Tide managed to hit one over the head of right fielder Skyler Weber, this one resulted in a two-out, RBI-triple for Henry and a 2-1 edge. The Bulldogs answered in the fifth to take their first lead of the night with a two-out rally of their own. Stephen Wrenn got it started with a base hit to extend his on base streak to all 35 games this season. Walsh drew a walk and Stephens came through again with his second two-out, RBI-single to tie the contest. Then, Daniel Nichols made it 3-2 Georgia with a run-scoring single.
Neither starter figured in the decision as both teams bullpen combined to allow seven runs. Junior right-hander Sean McLaughlin started for the Bulldogs and struck out a career-high 9 in 6.1 innings while Guilbeau went six innings and allowed three runs on six hits with five walks and five strikeouts. Ultimately, Mitch Greer (1-1) picked up the win with 1.1 scoreless innings of relief while Cheek (2-2) surrendered three runs on five hits for the loss.
In the 10th, freshman Keegan McGovern lined an RBI-double off Tide closer Thomas Burrows to put Georgia back in front 5-4. Later with two outs and the bases loaded, Wrenn notched an RBI on a walk for a 6-4 lead. However in the bottom of the inning, the first three Tide hitters reached including an RBI-single by J.C. Wilhite and a game-tying sacrifice fly by Vincent to push it to the 11th.
The series continues Saturday with first pitch slated for 4:05 p.m. ET.