ATHENS, GA.---Ryan Webb and Ben Harris combined on a two-hit shutout and freshman Fernando Gonzalez smashed a grand slam to lead No. 20 Georgia to a 4-0 win over Auburn Thursday at Foley Field.
Georgia (27-14, 10-9 SEC) put a runner in scoring position in four of the first five innings, however Jack Owen and the Tigers kept it a scoreless contest. Meanwhile, Webb faced the minimum through six innings with six strikeouts for the victory. Auburn’s lone hit came from Kason Howell in the third, and he was erased when Judd Ward lined into a double play. Harris took care of the final three frames, allowing one hit and struck out four for his second save. Owen dropped to 1-3, allowing two runs on four hits in five innings.
In the bottom of the sixth, Garrett Blaylock drew a leadoff walk. Connor Tate followed with a base hit to extend his on base streak to 21 games. Auburn (17-21, 3-16 SEC) then turned to Mason Barnett as Riley King attempted to bunt before the count got to 2-2, and then he struck out. Freshman Corey Collins followed and drew a walk to load the bases for Gonzalez. He hit the first pitch he saw over the right field fence for a grand slam. It was his second career home run, and the first grand slam by a Bulldog since Cam Shepherd blasted one at Georgia Tech in a 12-0 victory last season. The Tigers put runners at the corners with one out, and then the Bulldogs turned a double play to maintain their 4-0 edge.
The game that took just 2:23 to complete as Georgia posted its first SEC shutout since blanking LSU 2-0 in 2019. Tonight marked the Bulldogs fifth shutout of the year and second combined two-hitter. Tate extended his on base streak to 21 games while Blaylock extended his on base streak to 18 straight.
The series continues Friday with first pitch slated for 7:02 p.m., and the game will be available on SEC Network+ and can be heard on the Georgia Bulldog Sports Network.
Georgia’s Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach Scott Stricklin
On Fernando Gonzalez’ grand slam…
“Well, the real relief was that I didn’t make the decision to pinch hit for him because I almost did. Garrett Spikes was on my tongue to say ‘Hey, go get a bat.’ You know, Barnett has a lot of success against right-handed hitters. He hits 95, 96, with a good breaking ball, and it’s tough on righties. Lefties have a lot more success. So as my dad would call that ‘out-thinking yourself.’ I almost out-thought myself. And I did it two different times. When he was on deck, I almost told Spikes to get a bat, and I didn’t. And then when Corey walked, I almost called Fernando back. I mean I was ready to do it and get Spikes in there to be left on right. Sixth inning, Fernando was catching really well, I didn’t want to do it that early. But I decided not to, I didn’t out-think myself, I let it happen, and Fernando rewarded me for letting him stay in.”
#13 Fernando Gonzalez | C
On his grand slam…
“It’s one of those games that one swing can change it. I’m happy he didn’t pinch hit for me.
#55 Ryan Webb | LHP
On whether he knows he’s going to have a good outing during warm ups…
“Honestly it depends on right when the game starts. There are times where I’m in the pen and I feel really good, then I’ll get in and I’ll give up three home runs. It just depends. I felt really good out there tonight. My changeup was really good, and I feel like my fastball command is the best it’s been in the last month. I felt really, really good tonight.”