Vanderbilt wallops Georgia in SEC opener

HOOVER, Ala. -- Alex Wood walked the tightrope and fell, hopping from one jam to another in Georgia’s opening-round game against Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament. Meanwhile, the Commodores played a skilled game of trapeze in the field, showing off some slick fielding on their way to a 4-1 win Tuesday night at Regions Park.

Vanderbilt didn’t commit a single error and cut off a key threat in the fifth inning on a diving stop from first baseman Conrad Gregor, who fired the ball home to stop the Georgia baserunner in his tracks. The run would have tied the score and given UGA the momentum heading into the final third of the game. Instead, Vanderbilt continued to make plays and rode a wave of momentum the Bulldogs couldn’t turn back.

The game ended on a spectacular diving catch in left field from Jack Lupo, who had to lay out to haul in the final out.

“Our defense has gotten progressively better throughout the year,” said VU reliever Brian Miller, who threw 3.2 innings of scoreless baseball. “We’re starting to play some of the best defense at the best time of the year.”

Wood lasted only 4.2 innings for the Bulldogs, trotting off the field with runners on the corners and two outs. He allowed five hits and three earned runs. The bullpen was able to hold off the threat and keep the game within striking distance.

The Commodores did not score the rest of the night, but neither did the Bulldogs. UGA was able to scrape together a few more hits, pulling even with VU at six apiece.

After the game, VU head coach Tim Corbin was complimentary of Wood and pointed to a 16-minute delay because of a change in umpires as a possible reason for getting to the UGA starter in the third inning. The Commodores worked Wood for 92 pitches before he was forced to leave the game.

“That break that occurred in the game may have helped us a little bit and slowed him down,” Corbin said of Wood. “We just made him throw a lot of pitches and got him out of the game. ... We were glad just to get him out.”

On Wednesday, Georgia will face Auburn. Game time is still to be determined.

VU starter Drew VerHagen got in 4.1 innings of work before leaving the game. He allowed one earned run on five hits.