CARROLLTON, Ga. - The 2018 West Georgia baseball team is developing a flair for the dramatic, as the Wolves produced a come-from-behind win for the third time in four games thus far this season, taking down 22nd-ranked Georgia College in the 2018 home opener at Cole Field on Tuesday afternoon by an 8-4 score.
The game was the first of four this week against a ranked opponent, as the Wolves will take on Gulf South Conference member West Alabama later this week in a non-conference three-game series. Head coach Skip Fite announced just after the game that the UWA series has been moved and will now begin with a single game on Thursday at 4 p.m., followed by a doubleheader on Friday beginning at 1 p.m.
But in Tuesday's home opener, the Wolves used a five-run sixth inning to power past a team that came into the game having outscored their opponents by a combined 28-0 on the season thus far. But before that, Georgia College used the long ball to build an early 4-1 lead.
The Bobcats used a walk, an error and a base hit to jump on the board in the top of the first, taking a 1-0 lead on a single from Nate Schmal. West Georgia responded in the bottom of the second with a run in small-ball fashion. Logan Taylor led off the inning with an infield single, followed by a single from Nick Poskey to give the Wolves a pair of baserunners with no outs.
Christopher Michals then put down a solid sacrifice bunt to move the runners over and Dalton Gilliam grounded out to second base to allow Taylor to score with the Wolves' first run of the game. The game remained tied for the next inning before a three-run inning in the fourth gave the Bobcats a commanding 4-1 lead.
West Georgia came right back in the fifth inning, as senior catcher Price Peters belted a two- run home run to left center, pulling the Wolves to within a run at 4-3. That was one of two big momentum swings for the Wolves in the fifth, as Fite brought in Wes Bucher in relief of starter Jordan Schmits, who allowed four runs on four hits in his first outing in a West Georgia uniform. Bucher was lights out for the second-straight outing, working five shutout innings, allowing just four hits and striking out four. Bucher has now faced 31 batters in 8.2 innings of work on the year, allowing a .161 batting average and he has allowed no runs on just five hits with nine strikeout and no walks.
"I would really have to give it to our pitching staff and the way they are throwing right now," Peters said. "They have been keeping us in the game throughout the first four games, and that gives our hitters a chance to go up there and make a difference with each swing."
In the sixth, three of the first four batters reached base, loading the bases for Peters. The senior delivered a sacrifice fly to right field, allowing Taylor to score from third to tie the game at 4-4. Tucker Breen reached on an error to load the bases again and second baseman Brian Dansereau came through with a clutch single, scoring two and giving the Wolves a 6-4 advantage. Ben Utley and Cade Marlowe each added an RBI single to the fracas, and when the dust cleared at the end of the inning, West Georgia held an 8-4 lead.
That was all that Bucher would need, as Georgia College managed just two baserunners over the final three innings of the contest, but did not threaten to score again. In the final inning, Bucher induced three straight groundouts, including a comebacker to himself to record the final out of the game.
Utley and Taylor each had multiple hits in the game, with Utley going 3-for-5 with an RBI to lead the UWG offensive. Taylor was 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored and Dansereau added two RBI to the tally. The big stick came from Peters, who was 1-for-3 with three RBI and a run scored, and he drew his sixth walk of the season.
West Georgia returns to the diamond on Thursday afternoon, taking on the 24th-ranked West Alabama Tigers in non-conference action. First pitch for the three-game series will be at 4 p.m. on Thursday.