As the Georgia baseball team gathered around its dugout prior to the game, a video appeared on the jumbotron that was familiar to the Bulldogs and their opponents.
It was a clip of Brandon Stephen’s walk-off single from last year’s matchup against Georgia Tech. And as their catcher was being mobbed on the big screen, a light cheer escaped the Bulldogs’ dugout.
It was a nice little jab at their in-state rivals, but that was about all the Bulldogs had over the Yellow Jackets on Tuesday night at Foley Field. Georgia Tech got out to an early lead and never trailed as it topped the Bulldogs 13-6.
“Just to come out and get some runs early gave us some confidence,” Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall said. “I think the key thing for me was once they came back at us, we kept scoring. Sometimes when a team comes back at you that hard, you put your head down, and before you know it you’re behind.”
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A.J. Murray got the Yellow Jackets on the board with an RBI single in the first, and two batters later, Connor Justus increased the lead to three with a two-run double to center field. Bulldogs starter Ryan Aviando struggled with his control in his 2-2/3 innings of work, and Georgia Tech was able to get to him in the second, as well.
After refusing a run in the first following a leadoff triple by Stephen Wrenn, the Yellow Jackets put up three more runs in the second, thanks to a long three-run home run by Matt Gonzalez.
The junior left fielder finished the game 3-for-4 with four RBI.
“He threw me a first-pitch curveball for a strike, so I thought he was going to come back with something off-speed,” Gonzalez said. “He threw me a fastball, and it was right over the middle of the plate. I had some quick hands and just got to it.”
Georgia Tech starter Devin Stanton wasn’t much better than Aviando, as he gave up five runs in the second . After walking the first two batters, Stanton allowed four straight singles, while Nick King and Skyler Weber each chipped in two-run doubles to make it a one-run game.
“We had the momentum,” Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin said. “At 6-0, we claw back, and it’s 6-5. We have all the momentum on our side with two outs, and we don’t make a play. Next thing you know, it’s 9-5, and that’s a huge swing right there.”
The Yellow Jackets’ bullpen carried them the rest of the way as Matt Phillips, Tanner Shelton, Matthew Gorst and Joe Wiseman combined for eight innings of work, allowing just one run on five hits.
None of the bullpen pitchers allowed more than two hits, with Georgia’s only other run coming on a passed ball.
“I was impressed with everyone that we brought in,” Hall said. “I think Phillips came in and got out of a tough jam and limited the damage. I felt that Shelton was really good and then Joe Wiseman hasn’t pitched much. We got the lead and were going to put our closer in and then we got the big lead and put Joe Wiseman in. “
Georgia Tech added three runs in the eighth and finished the game with 13 hits to rebound from its weekend sweep to Louisville.
Georgia and Georgia Tech will face off two more times this season with one game being held at Georgia Tech and the other at Turner Field. The Yellow Jackets took the season series last season with their lone loss coming at Foley Field but were excited to change it up this year.
“Anybody who knows anything about baseball, this is a huge rivalry, and you are not going to get game one every time. It’s definitely a big win,” Gonzalez said.