No. 9 Georgia Edges Winthrop 2-1

Feb. 25, 2012

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Athens, Ga--- Peter Verdin's clutch hitting coupled with Michael Palazzone and Bryan Benzor's pitching performance helped ninth-ranked Georgia edge Winthrop 2-1 Saturday at Foley Field.

The Bulldogs improved to 6-0 in a game that lasted just one hour and 54 minutes as Georgia's pitching held the Eagles to three hits. Palazzone started off strong, allowing just one hit through the first four innings.   The Eagles grabbed a 1-0 lead in the fifth when Tyler Donovan knocked a two-out RBI single into right field, scoring Chad Smith. Meanwhile Winthrop starter Eric Ruth was nearly perfect, allowing no hits and just one base runner up to that point.

However in the fifth inning, the Bulldogs used hustle to get something going on offense.  Junior Brett DeLoach led off the inning by speeding down the first base line and reaching on an infield single.  Two batters later, freshman second baseman Nelson Ward picked up the third RBI of his career as he stretched a blooper to left field into a double, scoring DeLoach to tie the game.

From there, the pitcher's duel resumed.  Both starting pitchers pitched seven impressive innings and gave up just three hits and one run.  Palazzone finished with four strikeouts, while Ruth ended up with six as neither factored in the decision.

Georgia scored the go-ahead run in the eighth off Eagle reliever Tyler Klitsch.   Sophomore catcher Brandon Stephens led off the inning with an infield single to third.  Next, Curt Powell strategically faked a bunt to lure Winthrop's third baseman, Leighton Daniels out of position, and then smashed a ball past him.  With runners on first and second, Verdin came through and ripped a single into left field, scoring Stephens for a 2-1 advantage. Verdin had a fine day defensively with four putouts including three sliding catches down the line.

In the top of the ninth, Benzor (2-0) pitched a 1-2-3 inning for his second victory of the year.  Klitsch (0-1) got the loss as the Eagles fell to 0-6.

"Today was a good day for the pitchers, Michael got it going for us and their starter threw a lot of strikes and was ahead in the count all day," said Georgia coach David Perno. "We scratched across a late run and Bryan (Benzor) took care of the final two innings. We were missing Farmer in the lineup, and that hurt us offensively. "

Bulldog junior shortstop Kyle Farmer was out due to a sore knee and hamstring. Senior Levi Hyams got the start at shortstop while Ward took Hyams spot at second. Saturday marked the first game since March 24, 2010 that Hyams played shortstop when he filled in for Farmer. Farmer had started the last 101 games at shortstop. Hyams registered one putout and five assists. Overall, Georgia's defense is fielding .991 for the year with just two errors.

The series concludes Sunday with first pitch slated for 1 p.m.

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