The Bulldogs (23-19, 7-12 SEC) broke a 3-3 tie in the eighth, getting a clutch two-out, run-scoring single from Jason Jacobs. Junior left-hander Rip Warren recorded the final four outs to save it for senior Sean Ruthven (2-4) who had his best outing of the year and won for the first time since Opening Day in Februrary. The Crimson Tide dropped to 31-14 overall, 12-8 in the SEC. The Bulldogs are now 3-4 in the current eight-game roadtrip, all against nationally-ranked opponents.
Georgia grabbed a 1-0 advantage in the third. For the second day in a row, third baseman Adam McDaniel was hit by a pitch in his first at bat. Shortstop Matthew Dunn put down a sacrifice bunt to move him to second. Then, right fielder Bobby Felmy delivered a run-scoring single off Alabama left-hander Wade LeBlanc.
Alabama missed a couple early scoring opportunities. In the first with two on and one out, Ruthven got cleanup hitter Evan Bush to ground into an inning-ending double play. In the third, second baseman Rocky Scelfo led off with a base hit, stole second and then with one out advanced to third on a wild pitch. However, Ruthven retired the next two hitters to keep them off the scoreboard.
Georgia extened its lead to 3-0 in the fifth. McDaniel led off with a walk. After Dunn flew out, Bobby Felmy smacked a double to left. McDaniel came home on a sacrifice fly by Kyle Keen. With two outs, Joey Side cracked a double off the left field wall to bring Felmy home.
The Crimson tied tied the game with one swing of the bat from first baseman Zac Welch with two outs in the sixth. Ruthven retired the first two hitters and then Bush drew a walk on a 3-2 offering. The call brought Georgia coach David Perno out of the dugout to have a conversation with home plate umpire Darrell Arnold. Alabama head coach Jim Wells had done the same in the fifth after McDaniel reached on a walk. On a 1-2 pitch, Welch launched a three-run home run to right to make it 3-3.
In the seventh, the Bulldogs were retired quickly including a sterling diving stop by Welch on a line drive off the bat of Felmy. The Crimson Tide had a chance to take the lead in their half of the frame getting a two-out triple from Emeel Salem. Ruthven walked Rice and then Scott to hit into a fielder’s choice to send it to the eighth still tied.
The Bulldogs reclaimed the lead in the eighth on clutch-hitting by Jason Jacobs. Keen led off with a base hit. LeBlanc struck out Side and Morris flied out to deep center. Keen stole second. On a 2-2 pitch, Jacobs lined a base hit up the middle to bring Keen home and put Georgia out in front 4-3. Ruthven retired the first two Alabama hitters in the eighth before giving way to Warren. For Ruthven, it was his longest outing since going 8.1 innings in a win over sixth-ranked Ole Miss last year (April 23). On Saturday, Ruthven allowed three runs on six hits with four walks and six strikeouts in 7.2 innings for the win. LeBlanc was lifted after eight innings, surrendering four runs on seven hits with a walk and nine strikeouts. He dropped to 3-3 on the year.
“The resiliency of this club is unbelievable,” said Perno. “We had one hiccup, the three-run home run but we found a way back after that. Alabama is so tough here at home (25-5 this year). Sean (Ruthven) and Rip (Warren) did a tremendous job. Our team has hung in there and been able pick themselves up and battle.”
“We needed to control the momentum in the eighth, and we did by getting that run on a two-strike, two-out hit by Jason (Jacobs) to bring Kyle (Keen) home.”
“Rip has made a huge difference this week, getting saves in his last two outings, the one against Ga. Tech at Turner Field and now here today. He’s done it against two ranked teams on the road. He’s had a fine season and been a big boost to our bullpen.”
The rubber game of the series wraps up Sunday at 3 p.m. ET. Georgia will start junior left-hander Will Startup (4-3, 3.22) while the Crimson Tide has not announced a starter.