ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia blew late leads in both Saturday and Sunday’s losses at Vanderbilt, but the Bulldogs allowed an early advantage to slip away almost immediately in Tuesday’s 10-5 loss to Clemson.
The Bulldogs built a 3-1 lead in the first when Hunter Cole scored on a wild pitch and Colby May drove in two with a double. But Clemson struck right back for three runs in the second -- including a two-run homer by Richie Shaffer -- and steadily pulled away for a lopsided win over the 18th-ranked Bulldogs.
Clemson (12-11) scored in every inning but the third and ninth, with Georgia (17-9) committing three errors and all but two of the Bulldogs’ eight pitchers allowing at least one run.
“That kind of stuff that we did this weekend, it’s a hangover effect. It really is,” said Georgia coach David Perno, whose team gets a visit from No. 7 Kentucky this weekend. “We’re down, guys are tired and they played great and we didn’t play well. It’s that simple. It’s not that we didn’t expect it. It’s baseball. It’s still early and if we play like that this weekend, then I’ll be concerned.”
Clemson is off to a rocky start this season, but the Tigers looked like the ranked team on Tuesday. Their outfielders made three highlight-reel diving catches -- including left fielder Jay Baum’s game-ending catch of a Kevin Ruiz liner that saved two runs -- and right fielder Brad Felder also robbed Levi Hyams of a home run with his back against the fence.
Hyams (2-for-5) and May (2-for-3, two RBIs) were the only Bulldogs to account for multiple hits and Georgia’s offense totaled just eight against the Tigers’ five pitchers.
“We didn’t get the bats going at the right time,” May said.
Freshman Cole (1-for-3, two runs) blasted a solo home run to straightaway center -- his fourth of the season -- in the sixth, but that only cut the Georgia deficit to 8-4. Cole also committed two costly errors.
“That’s just a lack of focus on my part out in the outfield,” Cole said. “I’ve got to clean that up and we’ve just got to back up the pitchers. You’ve got to credit Clemson as well for making some great plays out in the outfield to take away some hits.
“It’s just tough -- one of those games where we’re hitting some hard, and some we’re not, and just can’t bounce back when they’re putting up runs every inning. That’s kind of tough.”
With the third consecutive loss, Georgia matches its longest losing streak of the season, but Perno preached patience afterward. The Kentucky series is a far greater concern for his Bulldogs than the outcome of a midweek non-conference game.
“Everybody’s going to pitch like that once in a while,” Perno said of Georgia’s six walks allowed. “We haven’t done that all year. We didn’t throw any of our guys. We held [Bryan] Benzor, we held [Blake] Dieterich. We put [Chase] Hawkins in for a short stint. We’re still finding things out and we know what’s at stake this weekend and we’ll be ready.”