It wasn’t a great day in Athens. Georgia, where the hometown team, who appeared in excellent shape to take home the NCAA Regional Championship on Monday afternoon, dropped two consecutive games to Duke, eliminating them from NCAA playoff contention and allowing Duke to advance to the super regionals to take on Texas Tech.
Georgia, who had won a blowout vs. Campbell on Saturday and a game with Troy on Sunday, couldn’t figure out Duke on Monday as they fell in game one by a final of 8-5 and in game two by a score of 8-4. The Bulldogs, who had more pitchers rested than Duke, who had to play one more game than Georgia, yet all seemed to struggle while Duke’s pitching — particularly their bullpen — kept the Dawgs’ bats silent, especially in the second half of both contests.
In game one, Georgia would jump out to an early 4-1 lead, courtesy of a four-run second, but would only tack on one other run (in the 4th) before Duke opened the floodgates, scoring seven unanswered and slamming the door on Georgia, 8-5.
The large, energetic crowd in Athens would be silenced in the second half of game one, as well as game two. Georgia would again take a 2-0 lead in the second inning, courtesy of a triple and error, but Duke, who had already provided Georgia with a painful comeback in game one, took the air out of game two with a five-run third. The Bulldogs never really threatened again after the Blue Devils’ big inning, scoring once in the fourth and seventh, however, it wouldn’t be enough, as Duke would go on to win by a final of 8-4.
Duke will advance to the NCAA Super Regionals, where they will face Texas Tech. Georgia would’ve hosted a super regional, had they won the regional, but now hosting rights will go to Texas Tech. This will be Duke’s first-ever super regional in program history.
Georgia’s impressive season comes to a disappointing end as they finish 39-21 overall on the year, including 18-12 in conference. This was UGA’s best season in 10 years — since they advanced to the College World Series Finals in 2008. That was the last time Georgia hosted a regional and the last time Georgia won a regional. Evidence of a Georgia slump was seen in the SEC tournament, when the Dawgs were handily eliminated in just three games. After a blowout win in game one of the Regionals, it had appeared Georgia had put the disappointing tournament behind them. Unfortunately, a lackluster offense and uncharacteristically poor pitching haunted UGA again in the final games of the Regional round.
Despite the finish, Georgia’s successes should not be diminished. This team has made extraordinary strides in the 2018 campaign and despite losing a couple prominent seniors (namely Keegan McGovern), the 2019 squad will be remarkably similar and should again be a force to be reckoned with in the SEC. For now, let’s give a tip of the cap to the Dawgs for a great season! (Now let’s go root for Florida Atlantic to beat Florida in their Regional final — that should bring solace to some sad UGA fans, am I right?)