Then Josh Morris stepped to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning. Three innings and three Morris plate appearances later, the No. 11 Bulldogs had completed a six-run rally, their biggest comeback of the season, and secured a 10-9 victory in front of 1,498 fans in Foley Field.
“We’re not going to go away,” said senior outfielder Bobby Felmy, who had the game-winning two-RBI single in the bottom of the eighth. “A lot of teams would have rolled over there. Even when we were down by all those runs, you could tell by looking in the dugout, guys still had their head high like, ‘We can’t be beat.’”
Georgia (37-16, 17-11 SEC) still must beat Kentucky today and Sunday to claim a share of the Eastern Division title and possibly the overall SEC regular season crown. The Bulldogs are one win away from tying the school’s modern record of 14 in a row, set by the 1990 national championship team.
“You’ve got to be proud of these kids,” said Coach David Perno, who was ejected for the first time this season in the second inning.
The Wildcats (41-12, 19-9) are trying to complete the only worst-to-first run in SEC baseball history, and it looked like they were going to do it after scoring four first-inning runs and two more in the second.
Kentucky led 8-2 when Morris came to bat in the sixth, but he quickly trimmed that lead to 8-4 with a two-run home run that cleared the scoreboard in right field. The next inning, after Kentucky had gone ahead 9-4, he came up with the bases loaded and hit his 20th home run of the season over the center field wall.
Morris, who set a career-high with six RBI and extended his UGA career home run record to 48, saw seven straight sliders on his grand slam at-bat, he said.
“I was guessing slider the last one, and I got it,” he said. “If he had thrown me a fastball, I would have been in trouble.”
The Wildcats had seen enough of Morris by the eighth, so they intentionally walked him, loading the bases for Felmy, who hit a single up the middle on an 0-2 pitch to put Georgia ahead.
“It kind of made me mad when they did that because it’s like they respect Mo, but they think they can get me out,” Felmy said.
Closer Josh Fields closed it out moments later for his SEC-leading 14th save of the season. Rip Warren (7-2) pitched the eighth inning and got the win.
Perno watched the comeback from his team’s training room, which has a plexiglass window overlooking the field. Angry after the officiating crew reversed a call that gave Kentucky’s Ryan Strieby a second-inning home run, was thrown out in the bottom of the inning when Kyle Keen was thrown out at first base. A television monitor in the press box showed Strieby’s ball clearly was a home run. Keen’s play could have gone either way.
“I watched every pitch,” he said. “I’m not going to get rung up that early if I can’t watch the rest of the game. I felt like we needed to change something. It just wasn’t going our way at that time so I was like, ‘I’ll leave it with you.’”
The last time Perno was ejected was in a dramatic 2004 NCAA Regional game against Clemson in which Georgia rallied to win 7-6 in extra innings and eventually advance to the College World Series.
“We battle for him, and he goes out there and battles for us,” said Morris. “It gets us going.”