Walk-off HR advances UGA in SEC baseball tourney

After not winning a game in the SEC Baseball tourney in eight years, it’s understandable that Georgia felt pressure to win their opener in the 2019 Tourney Wednesday.

But the Bulldogs met the challenge.

After earning a first-round bye, 7th ranked Georgia advanced out of the second round with a 2-0 win over No. 13 Texas A&M, thanks to a two-run, walk-off home run by junior shortstop Cam Shepherd.

The Bulldogs (43-14) were getting no-hit until one out in the eighth when freshman Randon Jernigan lined a single to left. He was the only Bulldog in the lineup without a hitting streak as Aggie freshman left-hander Chris Weber was in control. The Bulldog pitching staff was equally as good as Tim Elliott, Justin Glover and Zak Kristofak held Texas A&M to just a pair of hits in nine innings. After Jernigan’s base hit, the Aggies looked to Joseph Menefee.

In the bottom of the ninth, graduate designated hitter John Cable reached with a two-out single to bring up Shepherd. He delivered a two-run shot for his seventh home run of the year including his sixth in the last 12 games.

It was Georgia’s first walk-off on a home run since 2008 when shortstop Gordon Beckham hit a three-run blast to beat Georgia State.

Talking about the winning homer, Shepherd said, "I put a good swing on it, and I thought I got enough of it, and when I saw him get to the wall and time his jump, my head dropped a little bit. Then, I saw he didn’t have it, and it did go out, I got really excited and saw all my teammates come running out of the dugout.”

Menefee fell to 3-2 and the Aggies dropped to 37-20-1. Earlier in the contest, Shepherd made one of the best defensive plays of the year on a ball hit up the middle by Huner Coleman. It looked to be a base hit but the All-SEC Defensive shortstop snagged it, spun around and threw him out.

Kristofak pitched the final two innings to improve to 5-0. Elliott provided 5.1 innings, allowing a pair of hits with three walks and four strikeouts. Glover inherited a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the sixth and got Zach Deloach to ground one to first baseman Patrick Sullivan who fired home to catcher Mason Meadows. He stepped on the plate and threw a strike back to Sullivan to complete a double play.

Georgia Head Coach Scott Stricklin said, "It was a well-played game by both teams and excellent pitching. We finally broke through in the eighth with a hit and then got our second one with two outs in the ninth before Cam’s big home run to end it. It was a great swing and a clutch play by a clutch player.”

Up next, the Bulldogs play Thursday at 5:30 p.m. ET against the winner of Arkansas and Mississippi State as they face each other Wednesday afternoon.