March 7, 2014
ATHENS-----Georgia came back from a four-run deficit twice on Friday to defeat Buffalo 11-10 in front of 1,482 fans at Foley Field.
Junior shortstop Nelson Ward recorded his second three-RBI game of the season to lead the Bulldogs (8-6) to their sixth straight victory while Buffalo dropped to 6-2. Jared Cheek (3-2) picked up the win after holding the Bulls to one run over the final 2.2 innings on one hit and one strikeout. The Bulls outhit Georgia 14-11 but made five errors on the night. Cheek has earned a win in each of his last three appearances.
"Nelson Ward is just a gamer. He's the guy you want up in crucial situations," Georgia coach Scott Stricklin said. "(Brandon) Stephens has done great as well. We were able to find some ways to get it done although it certainly wasn't pretty. Jared Cheek was the star on the mound for us tonight."
After putting up one run in the first, Buffalo added three more in the second following Tyler Mautner's two-run single. Bulldog starter Ryan Lawlor was relieved after 1.1 innings after giving up four runs on four hits, two walks and no strikeouts.
Georgia responded with two outs in the second on a bases-loaded single by Ward. The hit scored two, and a third scored on an error charged to Bulls' second baseman Tanner Robinson, making it 4-3.
Buffalo put up three more in the third, giving the Bulldogs a 7-3 deficit, but Ward's RBI groundout capped a five-run fifth for the Bulldogs to take an 8-7 lead for the first time in the game. Georgia sent 10 batters to the plate and the five runs were a product of two hits, two walks and three errors.
Jess Posey added a sacrifice fly in the sixth to give Georgia a two-run cushion, but the Bulls quickly evened it up at 9-9 with two in the top of the seventh.
The Bulldogs surged ahead again in the bottom half of the inning on a sacrifice fly by Jared Walsh to make the score 10-9, and a wild pitch by Bulls' pitcher Kevin Hughes extended the lead to 11-9.
Welton finished 3-4 with two runs scored on the night and is now 11-22 over his last six games. Both Ward (2-3) and Cole (1-4) reached base to remain the only two Bulldogs to reach in all 14 games.
Hughes picked up the loss for the Bulls despite big offensive outputs from first baseman Mautner (2-3, 4 RBIs) and right fielder Nick Sinay (2-4, 3 RBIs). The five errors on the night led to four unearned runs. Buffalo starter Mike McGee went four innings, allowing four runs (two earned), four hits and six walks with four strikeouts.
"We put pressure on their defense," Stricklin added. "Buffalo is always going to swing the bat. We knew that coming in. There had been some rain and we knew it was going to be moist and it just went our way."
Georgia returns to action Saturday in day two of the Georgia Bulldog Invitational against North Florida at 1 p.m. In the second game Saturday, Buffalo will face Western Carolina at 5 p.m.
In the first game here Friday, North Florida improved to 5-6 after defeating Western Carolina 4-2 in 10 innings. Alex Merritt hit a two-run single in the top of the 10th off of Catamount Tyler Powell to give the Ospreys the win.
North Florida's Bryce Danielson (1-0) picked up his first win of the season after pitching 4.2 scoreless innings. Osprey starting pitcher David Trexler went 5.1 innings, giving up two runs on seven hits with a walk and three strikeouts but did not factor in the decision. Colton Davis (1-1) was charged with the loss for the Catamounts (8-3) after giving up two runs on one hit with a walk and a strikeout over one inning.
Western Carolina pitcher Jeremy Null provided a strong start, throwing 8.1 innings, giving up two runs on seven hits with a walk and five strikeouts. Powell came in with two of Davis' runners in the 10th and got an out before giving up the deciding single to Merritt. Alex Barr then came on to get the last out.
Western Carolina's right-fielder Dykota Spiess finished 3-5 with his second home run of the season in the sixth inning.