Georgia exploded for 12 runs on nine hits in the seventh and eighth innings to overcome a 4-3 Longwood lead and cruise to a series victory in Sunday’s finale at Foley Field. The Bulldogs capitalized on every opportunity in the closing innings to flip the script on Longwood’s upset bid and finish off a 15- win.
The Lancers led as late as the seventh-inning stretch, but the red and black strung together five singles aided by three hit batsmen and a walk to put an eight-spot on the scoreboard and take control of the rubber match.
Senior Brandon Vick gave Longwood (5-8) a quality start as the southpaw turned in his best performance of the season in a return to the Sunday spot. The 6-5, 205-pound veteran had struggled in his previous three starts, but earned the save in Friday’s win and continued to flash improvement in six solid innings scattering seven hits and allowing just three runs.
With Vick rolling on the mound, Longwood twice built a lead in the middle innings. Freshman Michael Osinski blasted his first-career home run, a two-run shot to left field to stake a 3-1 lead in the top of the sixth.
An inning later, the Lancers retook the lead on an RBI-single off the bat of Travis Biddix which scored Brandon Harvell and made it a 4-3 game in favor of the blue and white.
But the Bulldogs (10-5) rallied and buried the Lancers with a huge seventh inning, which saw 12 Georgia batters step to the plate. The red and black flipped a 4-3 deficit into an 11-4 lead and cruised through the final innings, including a four-run eighth, to take the series.
“It was great to see Brandon give us a much needed strong start,” said head coach Ryan Mau. “He commanded his fastball to both sides of the plate and was very effective with his change. We played solid defense behind him turning key double plays and scrapped offensively to put us ahead. Unfortunately, we didn’t have an answer in our bullpen again and the game got away from us late.”
For the eighth time this season, Longwood opened the game with a run in the first inning. Colton Konvicka led off with an infield single before advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt and Connar Bastaich single. A batter later, Brandon Delk, who finished 2-for-3 on the day, grounded out to third to score Konvicka and push Longwood out front at 1-0.
With an early lead, starter Brandon Vick looked more like his old self after a rocky start to the season. The left-handed hurler set the Bulldogs down in order in the first before working out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam by inducing a 5-4-3 double play to end the second. The tight-rope escape seemed to settle Vick, who would produce his first quality start of the season, finishing with a line of three runs on seven hits in six solid innings. Unfortunately, the Lancers could not cash in on the strong outing.
In the top of the sixth, Longwood silenced the Foley Field crowd when shortstop Michael Osinski launched his first home run as a Lancer over the left field wall with two outs. The blast plated Delk who reached on an infield single to open the inning and jolted Longwood into a 3-1 lead. The rookie Osinski also had a single in the second inning to finish the day 2-for-4 and notch his third multi-hit and multi-RBI performance in the past four games.
“Mike really found his swing this past week and is now playing with a ton of confidence,” said Mau. “He made the plays and put on solid at-bats all weekend long and it was exciting to watch him connect for his first career homer.”
Longwood also found two-hit days from Konvicka and Harvell who each scored a run as well. Konvicka went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles while Harvell finished 2-for-3. Sliding over to third base this weekend, Harvell reached in 7-of-8 plate appearances on Saturday and Sunday while scoring a run in each of the three games. The sophomore also had a hit in each of the three games in Athens this weekend.
“Harvell really stepped up this weekend filling in at third for us,” said Mau. “He played sound defense and found his way on base all weekend long.”
Unfortunately, Georgia knocked around the Longwood bullpen for the second consecutive day. In the eight-run seventh, the Bulldogs loaded the bases off of Mitchell Kuebbing with a single, hit-by-pitch and a walk. Three runs would be charged to Kuebbing who took the loss to fall to 0-3 on the season.
When Ryan Jones came on in attempt to shut down the threat, the Bulldogs took their first lead of the day when first baseman Zach Bowers flared a bloop-single to left scoring two runs. The the hit-by-pitch bug bit Jones as he plunked a Bulldog batter before another two-run single blew the game open.
Dylan Caruso and Allen Ellis combined to finally end the inning but not before Georgia hung an eight on the board and took a commanding lead. An inning later, Georgia swept away any comeback thoughts with four more runs on four hits including a solo home run as the Bulldogs tagged a fifth and sixth Longwood reliever with a run.
Freshmen Josh Covey struggled to find the strike zone and was forced to come over the plate in hitter’s counts. The rookie yielded a home run and double before giving way to Zach Potojecki who finished off the inning for the Lancers. Potojecki allowed a pair of hits and a run in his inning of work.
While it was not the result the Lancers were looking for, Longwood still showed flashes of promise and growth, taking a game from a Southeastern Conference opponent and leading in all three games.
“We were in all three games and had a good opportunity to win a series against a tough SEC opponent on the road,” said Mau. “It was a great challenge for us as we continue to prepare for conference play next weekend.”
Longwood will return to action Tuesday with a 3 p.m. contest versus Norfolk State at Buddy Bolding Stadium. The appearance will be the first home game of the season for Longwood who has opened the season with 13 consecutive games away from Farmville.
“After 13-straight away games, we are eager to open up back in Farmville this week,” Mau said. “Tuesday brings another in-state challenge and an opportunity for us to figure out our bullpen before Big South play.”