WHAT HAPPENED: Georgia second-baseman Mike Bell hit a two-run home run to lead the Bulldogs to a 2-1 win over Tennessee on Friday night in front of 1,542 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The Bulldogs improved to 13-9 overall, 1-3 in the SEC. The Vols fell to 9-9, 1-3.
Bell’s home run came in the second inning and the Vols never erased the deficit. Tennessee left fielder Christin Stewart doubled in shortstop A.J. Simcox in the third inning, but the Vols left the bases loaded that inning and also left runners in scoring position in both the fourth and the sixth inning.
WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Bell was 2-for-3, but his home run was all the scoring Georgia would need thanks to left-handers Jared Walsh and Bo Tucker.
Walsh struck out eight batters and seven innings, pounding the zone with fastballs and getting his usually wild curveball to fall in for strikes. He scattered five hits and walked four batters, but pitched well out of jams.
Tucker never saw a jam. He stepped in in the eighth, spotted his fastball and got the Vols to wave at his curve, striking out all six batters he faced.
Tennessee senior right-hander Bret Marks found a groove after Bell’s home run. He gave up a single later in the second inning, but then retired 20 of the next 22 batters he faced including 12 straight at one point. He threw 47 pitches in the first two innings, but threw just 73 in the last 6 1/3, including a combined 19 from the fourth through the seventh. He said he never felt focused and that he lacked command of his pitches most of the game but still got by throwing the ball across the plate.
WHY IT HAPPENED: Tennessee came in with an offensive game plan and Walsh made it extremely difficult to execute. The Vols planned to sit on Walsh’s fastball believing he’d struggle to get his curveball over the plate. He usually didn’t, and the Vols often found themselves battling from behind in counts. He did have some control trouble with four walks and three hit batsmen, but the Vols never did figure him out. When they got men on base, they didn’t execute, leaving 10 men on including five in scoring position.
Tucker they simply couldn’t touch. He pounded the zone with fastballs and when he brought out the curveball, the Vols could do little but foul it off and never actually put a ball in play.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN: This is a series in which the Vols desperately need to make headway. If they don’t win this series, they could find themselves in a major conference hole by the end of the month. After this series, the Vols play road series at No. 4 Vanderbilt, the defending national champion, and Ole Miss, which also reached Omaha last year. Tennessee could’ve really used a sweep, which is now impossible, and they have to win the next two games just to be above .500 overall.