The team, featuring some of the top rising seniors from around the state, got a big boost from Cherokee’s Austin Pharr in a pair of victories Tuesday, which helped Georgia improve to 6-2 in the Junior Sunbelt Classic.
In a morning game against Arizona, Pharr went 2-for-3 with a home run in a 6-3 win. The homer was his second of the tournament.
Georgia jumped to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first behind singles by Gainesville’s Luke Maddox and Pope’s Braden Zarbnisky, a sacrifice bunt, a wild pitch and a double by Greenbrier’s Adam Sasser.
Arizona capitalized on an error in the top of the first and had tied the game at 2-all when all the damage was done.
But in the bottom of the inning, Pharr swung at the first pitch he saw and placed it over the fence in right field for a 3-2 lead that Georgia never surrendered.
Georgia’s lead grew in the fourth when Pharr led off the inning by reaching on an error. A single by Jefferson’s Jake Franklin moved Pharr to third, and he scored when the next batter, Lee County’s Nick Bush, hit a sacrifice fly.
In the bottom of the fifth, Georgia got even more insurance by stringing together a walk, singles by Redan’s James Nelson and Pharr and a fielder’s choice. By the end of the inning, Georgia led 6-2.
Arizona scored on a solo homer in the sixth, but the score stood at 6-3.
In addition to Pharr, who drove in two runs, Zarbnisky went 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs.
Evans’ Kyle Anderson earned the win for Georgia. He struck out 10 and allowed one earned run on five hits and three walks in a complete game.
Pharr also played a key role in Georgia’s second victory of the day, an 8-0 win over Oklahoma Blue in 4½ innings.
Georgia started off slow with just one run in the bottom of the first, but a three-run second made up for it.
Nelson led off with a double before Pharr drove him home with a single. Pike County’s Tristan English followed with a double to move Pharr to third, and Pharr scored when Bush hit a sacrifice fly for the first out of the inning. An error allowed Walton’s Luke Manzo to reach base safely as English scored for a 4-0 lead.
The third inning was nearly as big as Georgia tacked on three more runs.
Westminster’s Connor Stutts singled to start the inning before Nelson homered on a 0-2 count. With Georgia up 2-0, Pharr drew a walk and stole second before scoring on a single by Manzo. North Gwinnett’s J.D. Dutka doubled to plate Manzo, who accounted for the final run of the game.
Oklahoma Blue failed to score in either of the next two innings, and the game ended by the mercy rule.
Sasser earned the victory after pitching four innings. He gave up two hits, walked one and struck out four. Franklin pitched the final inning, striking out one.
Georgia will play one final game today before returning home. The opponent has not been determined.