March 14, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. --- The No. 18 Georgia Bulldogs used a 22-hit attack including three home runs to power past Alcorn State 23-6, Wednesday at Foley Field.
The Bulldogs (13-5) were led by freshmen Hunter Cole, who went 4-for-5 with a home run and four RBI, and Justin Bryan who smashed a grand slam. Meanwhile, Alcorn State (3-13) was highlighted by Rodney Warren who went 4-for-5, including a home run and Jann Butler added a three-run blast.
Georgia senior Chase Hawkins earned the win in relief with 1.1 scoreless innings after starter Taylor Hicks surrendered three runs on eight hits in two innings and Ross Ripple followed with three runs on three hits in 2.2 innings. Braves starter Mike Peters got the loss after giving up seven runs in the first frame. In all, six Bulldog pitchers and five Alcorn State hurlers saw action. Freshman Ben Ancheff made his Bulldog debut and pitched a scoreless frame in the seventh.
The Bulldogs built a 7-0 lead in the first inning. The surge started when Levi Hyams (3-for-5, 2 RBI) crushed a long double to center field to bring in Nelson Ward (1-for-4, 3 RBI). The next six runs were all scored with two outs on the board. Cole hit his second career home run to bring the score to 3-0.
Freshman Heath Holder (3-for-3, 1 RBI) singled to drive in Jonathan Hester and then advanced to third base off of two wild pitches; Holder was brought in when Peter Verdin (3-for-3, 2 RBI) doubled. Ward rounded out the scoring push when he singled to right field and drove in Powell and Verdin.
Alcorn State responded when Butler hit a three-run home run to make it 7-3. Georgia increased its advantage in the second after Cole doubled to bring in Kyle Farmer and Powell singled to bring in Cole. Farmer had three doubles on the night. Verdin also hit a single and brought in Holder as the Bulldogs used a three-run inning to bring the score to 10-3.
The Braves recorded another home run in the fifth when Warren nailed one to left field and brought the score to 10-4. Alcorn State added to the score when Eduardo Gonzalez was driven in off a sacrifice fly by Perales and Joshua Powell crossed home after Curt Powell made a throwing error from third.
The Bulldogs scored in the fifth inning when Cole singled to drive in Hyams. Georgia scored again in the sixth inning when Hester hit a home run, the second time that the lead-off batter hit the ball over the fence. The next three runs all came with the bases loaded, as Holder scored off an error by Hickman, Hyams singled to bring in Powell and Verdin crossed home on a fielder's choice. Ward scored on a pass ball and Farmer came home off another Hickman error to bring Georgia's lead to 17-6.
Brandon Stephens scored and increased the Bulldogs' advantage to 18-6 when May doubled in the eighth inning. Bryan's grand slam put the score at 22-6 and Welton was brought home by Hyams on a single to right field for the final.
The 23 runs marked the most by the Bulldogs since 2009 when they defeated Ohio State 24-8 in an NCAA Regional game at Florida State.
"The timing couldn't be better; we needed a game like this," said Georgia coach David Perno. "Our hitters have been working hard, and they had a big night. Several young guys got a chance to play, and they responded so we feel like we're creating depth going in to SEC play. Everybody should have some confidence now at the plate, and I liked what I saw from most of the pitchers. We stretched Ross a little bit, and then I thought Chase, Ben Ancheff, Bryan Benzor and Blake Dieterich shut them down the final 4.1 innings."
The Bulldogs open SEC play on Friday with a three-game series with Tennessee. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m.