Mercer arrived in Athens having won five consecutive to come out of the loser's bracket and win the Southern Conference tournament in Greenville, S.C. The Bears also had won four of its past five games against Georgia, the last win coming in 2017.
But Georgia squashed any notion of an upset very quickly. The Bulldogs' first five batters reached against Mercer starter Tanner Hall (8-6), including Aaron Schunk, who clubbed his first home run of the night. Georgia would bat around, with leadoff hitter Tucker Maxwell hitting a grand slam his second time at the plate. That staked the Bulldogs to an 8-0 lead.
Hall was the teammate of Georgia starter Tony Locey -- and UGA quarterback Jake Fromm -- when the two pitchers helped Houston County win a state baseball championship in 2016.
Locey’s night started markedly different. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound junior gave up a leadoff hit. But with 11 pro baseball scouts lined up in the concourse behind home plate with their radar guns trained on his pitches, Locey struck out the next five batters in a row. He went on to strike out two more against one walk and left the game in the fifth inning holding a 13-0 lead.
Locey improved to 11-2 on the season, and the Bulldogs improved to 14-1 in games that he has started this season.
The NCAA was the big winner in Friday’s results. The outcome sets up another anticipated postseason matchup between Georgia and FSU, and Seminoles' skipper Mike Martin has been around for pretty much all of them. The storied programs have battled seven times in NCAA regionals, with the Bulldogs winning four of them.
The Seminoles won the last matchup in 2009, but Georgia beat them 3-2 in the 2006 Athens Super Regional to advance to College World Series.
Martin, a Hall of Fame coach, has announced that he's retiring at the season's end. This is his 40th at FSU.