Texas A&M video creates sticky situation for Georgia pitcher

Georgia pitcher Christian Mracna (45) delivers a pitch during Georgia’s game against Texas A&M at Blue Bell Park in College Station, Texas, on Saturday, April 27, 2024. (Kari Hodges/UGA Athletics)

Credit: Kari Hodges/UGAAA

Credit: Kari Hodges/UGAAA

Georgia pitcher Christian Mracna (45) delivers a pitch during Georgia’s game against Texas A&M at Blue Bell Park in College Station, Texas, on Saturday, April 27, 2024. (Kari Hodges/UGA Athletics)

ATHENS — One of Georgia’s pitchers is accused of doctoring the baseball during the Bulldogs’ win over No. 1 Texas A&M on Saturday night in College Station. But with only inconclusive video taken from the fans phone in the grandstands, there’s no proof that he did anything wrong.

From the Bulldogs’ perspective, all Christian Mracna did was come through in a big moment against the SEC’s best team. Mracna pitched the last two innings to earned the save in Saturday’s 5-4 win over the Aggies at Blue Bell Park. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound graduate transfer from George Mason struck out six of the seven batters he faced with no walks and one hit allowed. The loss was just the second at home this season for A&M and allowed Georgia to avoid a sweep in the three-game series.

Not long after the game was played, video was posted on social media showing Mracna crouching in the corner of the bullpen with his back to the grandstands and allegedly fiddling with his glove. Later, other posts used TV footage claiming that Mracna reached for the leather strings on his glove with the fingers on his right hand whenever he was presented with a new baseball. The website Barstool Texas A&M circulated two videos on Twitter/X and Instagram, one from the bullpen and the other from the mound. They appeared under the headings of “Interesting” and “Here it is.”

Asked about it Tuesday in a text message from an Associated Press reporter in Texas, A&M coach Jim Schnossnagle admitted he was suspicious of Mracna using a foreign substance to help him grip the baseball, which is a violation of NCAA rules.

“Certainly appears that way,” Schlossnagle told the AP. “It’s part of the game. ... Wish we would’ve caught it.”

The AP reported that the SEC office is aware of the accusation and has seen the videos. However, when contacted by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday, the league would not confirm it has had interactions with either school.

“We do not comment on communications with schools related to officiating,” spokesman Ben Beaty said via email.

UGA officials also declined comment.

The No. 17-ranked Bulldogs (32-12, 10-11 SEC) were on the road at Kennesaw State on Tuesday night. Mracna did not pitch in the 9-3 victory. That is not unusual as he is a regular contributor in Georgia’s weekend rotation for conference games.

A first-year transfer, Mracna has been effective as a starter and a reliever for the Bulldogs. He enters the third-to-last weekend of the regular season with a 3-2 record and 4.00 ERA in 13 appearances, 10 of them starts. He has 57 strikeouts and 22 walks in 36 innings and has allowed 33 hits, three of them home runs. Saturday was his most dominant performance.

Mracna originally is from Lake Worth, Florida. He signed with Belmont Abbey out of Trinity Christian Academy but the season was canceled because of COVID-19. Mracna then transferred to Northwest Florida State College for the 2021 season, before settling at George Mason for his past two seasons. He was 4-1 with 4 saves and a 3.09 ERA last year.

Using any foreign substance – including spit – or intentionally damaging the baseball was outlawed in pro baseball in 1920. Currently, MLB calls for immediate ejection and 10-game suspension.

NCAA policy calls for a four-game suspension. Vanderbilt pitcher JD Thompson was discovered to have a foreign substance on his forearm in a game against Florida on April 21. Thompson did not pitch against Mississippi State last weekend.

Georgia plays host to Vanderbilt in a three-game series that begins Friday.