Feb. 29, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. ---- Eighth ranked Georgia fell for the first time this season, 5-3 at the hands of Western Carolina Wednesday in front of a crowd of 1,319 at Foley Field.
The Catamounts (5-3) jumped out 1-0 in the first inning. Aaron Attaway led off the game with a single on the first pitch, and Dykota Spiess followed with an RBI double into left field. This run ended a 22 inning scoreless streak by the Bulldog pitching staff.
Georgia freshman Pete Nagel was able to settle in after allowing each of the first three batters to reach base, retiring the next three batters including two strikeouts.
Georgia (8-1) recovered quickly after back-to-back singles by Conor Welton and Curt Powell to lead off the inning. After a pop out by Kyle Farmer, Levi Hyams loaded the bases for Hunter Cole with just one out. Cole capitalized on the situation, driving in Welton, and beating out an infield single as the Bulldogs tied the game.
Western Carolina's pitcher Adam Curtis was able to get Brett DeLoach to ground into an inning ending double play in the next at bat to avoid a big inning and keep the game tied after one.
The tie was short lived, as Ross Heffley of Western Carolina hit his first home run of the season in the third inning to put the Catamounts back on top, 2-1. Heffley's homer was also the first home run allowed by the Georgia pitching staff this season.
Georgia tied the game again in the bottom of the third as Farmer drove in Curt Powell on an RBI double into right field, making it 2-2. Peter Verdin gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the game in the bottom of the fourth. He drove in Colby May, who reached earlier in the inning on a walk and advanced to second on a fielder's choice. He would score on an RBI double into left field to put Georgia on top 3-2.
Western Carolina battled back in the next inning, however, tacking on three runs to regain a 5-3 lead. The first base runner of the inning reached base on an error by Farmer, then after Pete Nagel ended his day on a strike out, Earl Daniels walked the only two batters he faced to load up the bases.
Ross Ripple came in to finish out the inning, however, he allowed an RBI single to Ross Heffley, then walked Jacob Hoyle to bring in the second run of the inning. The final run came in the next at bat as Tyler White hit a sacrifice fly into centerfield to bring in Dykota Spiess and put WCU up 5-3. Ripple struck out Adam Martin to end the inning. Georgia senior Chase Hawkins pitched three scoreless innings and junior Bryan Benzor pitched a perfect ninth.
"That fifth inning was all around the only poor inning we had from an execution standpoint," said Bulldog head coach David Perno after the game. "We called on our stellar bullpen and unfortunately a couple of our guys didn't have it in them tonight. It happens, guys are going to have tough outings we just have to be able to help those guys out and make up for their mistakes. I thought Chase and Bryan did a good job to close out the game."
After the fifth inning, the Bulldogs bullpen retired 14 straight batters to end the game. However, the Georgia's offense was blanked the rest of the way by the Catamount bullpen. Curtis went 6.2 innings for the win and move his record to 2-0.
Preston Hatcher picked up his second save of the season, recording the final five outs. Western Carolina's pitchers allowed just two base runners in the final four innings. Daniels took the loss for the Bulldogs to fall to 0-1.
Georgia returns to action Friday March 2, at 6 pm here at Foley Field for the first game of a three game series against Western Illinois.