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March 2, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. ---- Alex Wood struck out a career high 14 batters and allowed just two hits in eight innings to lead eighth ranked Georgia to a 4-1 victory over Western Illinois Friday at Foley Field.
Wood was perfect through the first three innings, recording six strikeouts. Austin Cowen broke up the perfect game with two outs in the fourth inning with a single into right field. Wood did not allow another hit until the eighth inning when Ryan Cowhey led off the inning with a single into left field. He struck out every WIU starter at least once.
Wood's 14 strikeouts were the most by a Bulldog since 2006 when Brooks Brown tallied 14 in a 3-0 shutout against Tennessee. Georgia improved to 9-1 while the Fighting Leathernecks dropped to 3-5.
"Alex was dominating tonight, he had everything going," said Georgia coach David Perno. "He was able to throw a power fastball to both sides of the plate; he had his breaking ball and threw a few change-ups too. Western had a good approach against him, but Alex was special tonight."
The Bulldogs missed a scoring opportunity in the second inning as they had two runners in scoring position with just one out. Colby May led off the inning with a walk, then Brett DeLoach reached on a single in the next at bat. Brandon Stephens advanced both runners in the next at bat on a sacrifice bunt, but Western Illinois Rich Mascheri was able to force Conor Welton to line out to second, and Peter Verdin to ground out to short to escape the inning unscathed. The WIU left-hander entered the game with a 0.60 ERA in 15 innings this season, allowing just one run.
Junior shortstop Kyle Farmer broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the third with his first home run of the season. Farmer jumped on the first pitch he saw and drove the ball over the left field fence. Farmer ended the day 3 for 4 with one RBI and two runs scored.
Wood is now 3-0 on the year while Mascheri fell to 1-2. The WIU senior allowed four runs on nine hits in six innings.
"We had a good night, and it's nice to get back in the win column," said Wood. "I had all three of my pitches going tonight, and it was a lot of fun. Our team plays great defense, and the bats came alive too."
Georgia extended its lead the next inning, after DeLoach reached base on a one out single. Later in the frame, Welton drove him in on a two out RBI single for a 2-0 lead.
In the fifth inning, Curt Powell led off the inning with a single into left field. Farmer followed Powell with a single that advanced Powell to third, and Farmer took second on the throw. After Mascheri retired the next two Bulldogs, May delivered a two run single on a line drive into center field to extend Georgia's lead to 4-0. May finished the day 2 for 3 with a walk and two RBIs.
Junior Brian Benzor entered the game in relief of Wood at the start of the ninth inning. After striking out Steve Kedroski, Benzor gave up a solo home run to Matt Igara to spoil the shutout. The home run was also Igara's first of the season and just the third hit of the game for the Fighting Leathernecks.
Georgia returns to action Saturday at 3 pm for game two of the weekend series against Western Illinois.