ATLANTA — Nothing lifts the spirits of a struggling team faster than blowing out a rival by a historic margin.
Georgia hammered in-state nemesis Georgia Tech 17-0 on Tuesday at Turner Field to take some sting out of the Bulldogs’ stumbling start to conference play. It was the most lopsided Georgia victory in the series since the Bulldogs won 25-1 in 1899.
“I’ll take it,” Georgia outfielder Hunter Cole said. “It was a great win and we needed that. We needed a lot of hits and it showed up tonight. It was contagious. We faced a great team in Vanderbilt this past weekend with great arms. It really prepared us for tonight. The first couple of us got hits and it just kept on rolling.”
Georgia mauled Georgia Tech’s pitching for a season-high 23 hits and 17 runs. The Bulldogs also drew eight walks and took advantage of two Georgia Tech errors. Georgia’s pitchers combined to allow five hits and no runs with 13 strikeouts and one walk to complete their second shutout of the season. It also gave a little payback for Georgia’s seniors who were on the team when Georgia Tech beat the Bulldogs 25-6 at Foley Field in 2010.
“That feels pretty good, I like that a lot,” Georgia pitcher Bryan Benzor said. “That’s the best part, they’re probably our biggest rival and there’s nothing better than beating them. Even if the season’s not going the way you want it too, it’s always nice to come here and give them a little (tail)-whipping I guess.”
Georgia had its most productive night of the season at the plate, led by what the Bulldogs hope is a breakout game by outfielder Justin Bryan who was 3 for 5 with four RBI. His bases-loaded single sparked a five-run third that gave the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead.
“It’s a good feeling, it definitely erases the taste from our mouth from last year here (12-5 loss at Turner Field),” Bryan said. “It was electric tonight. It was like fall ball all over again. That’s how we were hitting in fall ball but we haven’t been able to do that this spring. It’s definitely good to see that offense again. Hopefully it will stick around this time. It felt good because I’ve had a lot of opportunities that by. So to get a bases-loaded knock in a situation like this, definitely builds you up.”
Georgia third baseman Curt Powell was 4 for 5 with two RBI and Cole was 4 for 5 with two RBI. Jared Walsh, Zack Bowers and Daniel Nichols each had two hits. Nichols added two RBI.
“The ball looked like a beach ball,” Cole said. “You can see the ball really well in here. It’s a beautiful park and it’s a great opportunity to come in here and play and have a good time and use it to our advantage. It’s a good confidence booster to beat Tech. They’re one of the best teams in the ACC right now. They swing the bats well and score a bunch runs so to not only get a bunch of runs but to get a shutout was really impressive. You’ve got to tip your hat to our pitchers.”
Benzor (3-2) pitched the first three innings for Georgia, giving up two hits and no runs with four strikeouts and now walks to pick up the win on a staff day. Ross Ripple, Blake Dieterich, Mike Mancuso and Patrick Boling combined to allow three hits and one walk before turning the game over to Jarrett Walsh in the ninth. Walsh struck out two in a perfect ninth to finish the win.
“I was shocked,” Georgia coach David Perno said. “We just haven’t seen that this year. ... We had production from Justin Bryan who hadn’t done much all year. He really did a great job tonight, so did Bowers, just everybody. It’s contagious and guys just started feeling it. We haven’t had this boost of confidence in probably six weeks. We were a pretty good team at one time this year. We had a pretty good stretch where we were hitting it and pitching it and defending the field. It’s kind of bounced around, our struggles have. Hopefully they are behind us and we’ll see a lot more of this down the stretch.”
Georgia Tech’s Jonathan King (3-3) gave up seven hits and four runs in two innings to take the loss. Kyle Wren had Georgia Tech’s only multi-hit game with two singles.