Extreme highs, lows for Georgia Bulldogs over weekend

Georgia's Kyle Garland set the U.S. collegiate record for the decathlon Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark., with 8,720 points. (Photo courtesy of UGA Sports Communications)

Credit: Photo courtesy of UGA Sports Communications

Combined ShapeCaption
Georgia's Kyle Garland set the U.S. collegiate record for the decathlon Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark., with 8,720 points. (Photo courtesy of UGA Sports Communications)

Credit: Photo courtesy of UGA Sports Communications

ATHENS — It was a weekend of extraordinary highs and excruciating lows in UGA Athletics.

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On Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark., Georgia junior decathlete Kyle Garland destroyed the collegiate record with 8,720 points during the USATF Combined Events Championships. The total – 181 more than the former college record of 8,539 by Texas A&M’s Lindon Victor in 2017 – was the seventh best in U.S. history and earned Garland a spot on Team USA for the World Championships in Eugene, Ore., this summer.

Garland posted six personal bests in his 10 events, including his final three to end the competition. The Philadelphia native is now No. 2 in the world for 2022 behind UGA alum Garrett Scantling, who won the meet with a mammoth 8,867 points. Garland’s mark also is, of course, the school record, which Karel Tilga had owned since recording 8,484 from the 2021 Spec Towns Invitational.

Also, the No. 13-ranked Georgia women’s tennis team advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament with a 4-0 win over No. 23 Wake Forest. With the victory, the Bulldogs head to Durham, N.C., to take on No. 3 Duke on Friday. The winner of that match advances to the 2022 NCAA Championships in Urbana, Ill.

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, that’s where the good news ended this weekend. The baseball team dropped two of three games to Vanderbilt, the softball team lost two of three against Ole Miss and the men’s tennis team experienced yet another early exit from the NCAA Tournament.

In baseball, No. 16 Georgia had a huge offensive day Saturday with 12 hits and three home runs – including two by catcher Fernando Gonzalez – to notch a 13-7 win and even the series at a game apiece. The game saw pitcher Jonathan Cannon return to full strength, throwing 110 pitches through seven innings to notch the win.

But on Sunday, the Bulldogs ran into a pitching buzz saw by the name of Carter Holton. The Vanderbilt freshman right-hander – a Savannah native – struck out five in six scoreless innings while scattering four hits to set up a 4-0 Commodores’ victory.

The loss puts Georgia in a tough spot with regard to seeding for the SEC Tournament. While remaining in second place in the SEC East, the Bulldogs (32-16, 13-11 SEC) fall into a tie for fourth place overall with Auburn. They face a road trip to No. 1 Tennessee (42-6, 20-4) this weekend, then host Missouri for the final three-game set May 20-22.

Likewise, Georgia’s No. 18-ranked softball team faces an uphill climb after dropping two of three to Ole Miss at Jack Turner Stadium in the final regular-season series over the weekend. On Saturday, the Bulldogs (40-15, 12-12) got two home runs from sophomore Jayda Kearney – including a grand slam in the seventh inning – to set the school mark for homers in a season with 100. But Georgia still lost 10-8.

After dropping a 4-2 decision to the Rebels on Sunday, coach Tony Baldwin’s first UGA softball team fell to the No. 9 spot in seeding for this week’s SEC Tournament in Gainesville, Fla. Georgia’s opponent in the opening round Wednesday is Ole Miss (38-16, 12-12).

Meanwhile, the difficulties for the proud men’s tennis program continued. Facing No. 28 Florida State in the second round, No. 11 Georgia dropped a 4-3 decision. Owners of six outdoor tennis national championships, the Bulldogs were playing without graduate Tristan McCormick, part of Georgia’s No. 1 doubles team and a top-three singles player all season, due to injury. Their season ends with an 18-8 mark.

“It hurts, it stings. Our guys gave it all they had, it just wasn’t meant to be,” coach Manuel Diaz said.