Feb. 22, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. ---- Ninth-ranked Georgia defeated Georgia State 4-1 at Foley Field Wednesday in front of a crowd of 1,658 that included former Bulldog All-American and current Chicago White Sox star Gordon Beckham.
Georgia (4-0) was led early by freshmen pitcher Pete Nagel who made his first career start and tossed five shutout innings. Nagel was incredibly effective, allowing just one hit with a walk and three strikeouts.
Freshman left fielder Hunter Cole was the first player to reach base in the game, leading off the bottom of the second inning with a single. GSU freshman Max Schmitz held the Bulldogs through the first three frames. Cole recorded the first stolen base of his career during the next at bat. After Colby May was walked, Peter Verdin grounded out to short to end the inning and strand runners at the corners as Schmitz got out of the jam.
The Bulldogs were able to get on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning as Jared Walsh scored on a bases loaded walk to Verdin. Walsh recorded the first hit of his career on a hard hit grounder to first. Schmitz walked May to load the bases, then walked Peter Verdin two batters later to bring in the run, ending Schmitz's day. Hunter Cash came in relief for Georgia State, and was able to hold the Bulldog lead until the seventh inning.
Meanwhile, junior Brian Benzor followed Nagel but the Panthers managed to tie the contest. He surrendered a leadoff single to Caden Bailey who then went to second on a Kyle Farmer throwing error. Bailey took third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on an RBI- single by Kody Adams to tie the game at 1-1.
The Bulldogs regained the lead in the bottom of the seventh inning on a fielder's choice groundout by Conor Welton that scored Brandon Stephens to make it 2-1. Stephens led off the inning by reaching second on an error by left fielder Landon Bennett. Stephens advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Peter Verdin. Second basemen Levi Hyams smashed a two-run homer to put Georgia up 4-1.
"When you have big innings, and pitch the way we did tonight then you're going to win ball games," said Bulldog coach David Perno. "Our pitchers were on a roll, and we got a big swing from Levi (Hyams) which helped to erase some mistakes we made. It's still early and we have plenty of time and a lot to work on, but I like where we're headed."
Benzor, Ross Ripple and Blake Dieterich closed out the game swiftly for Georgia out of the bullpen, collectively retiring the last 11 batters faced. Benzor was credited with his first win of the season, allowing one run on two hits in two innings pitched. Ross Ripple pitched a perfect eighth inning, striking out two to set up Blake Dieterich for his first save of the season. Dieterich made short work of the ninth inning, striking out two and retiring the side in order to seal the 4-1 victory. The Panthers dropped to 3-2.
"(Ross) Ripple was the best arm that we had at the time and he did a great job for us," Perno added. "He delivered a lot of hard stuff off the mound which contrasted well with (Brian) Benzor who doesn't quite have as much velocity. Our bullpen was really on their game tonight and so was Pete (Nagel). We had great pitching all around."
The Bulldogs return to action Friday against Winthrop at 5:30 p.m. here at Foley Field for the first of a three game series.