Tyler Maloof notched his SEC-leading seventh save.
March 18, 2011
COLUMBIA, S.C.----Alex Wood, the Southeastern Conference's reigning pitcher of the week, provided another stellar performance Friday in beating fourth-ranked South Carolina 4-2 in front of a crowd of 8,069 at Carolina Stadium. A week earlier in Los Angeles, Wood defeated 2010 College World Series finalist UCLA and ace Gerrit Cole, and tonight, he knocked off the defending CWS champions with 8.1 strong innings in the SEC opener for both clubs. Wood improved to 2-2 and junior Tyler Maloof notched his SEC-leading seventh save as the Bulldogs evened their record 9-9. USC dropped 12-4.
"Alex is turning into a giant slayer, and we're so pleased for him," said Georgia coach David Perno. "He's gritty, tough, poised and confident out there. He can handle the moment. Offensively, we got a couple early runs and South Carolina didn't play well defensively tonight and that's rare. We have to play well defensively to win and we did tonight. They were several guys that made great plays."
Georgia jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first off ace left-hander Michael Roth who entered the contest 4-0 with a 0.99 ERA. Junior Levi Hyams extended his hitting streak to 10 games with one-out single and then scored on an RBI-double by junior centerfielder Zach Cone. With two outs, Kyle Farmer reached on an errant throw by shortstop Peter Mooney and Cone was able to score on the play to make it 2-0. Georgia got a break in the bottom of the frame when Christian Walker lifted a two-out fly ball to right field that was ruled not to have left the park after the umpires conferred, and he had to settle for a triple. It appeared to hit a railing above the fence and then bounced back into right field. Wood then struck out third baseman Adrian Morales to end the first. In the third, Georgia took advantage of a couple of Gamecock errors to add a run. Sophomore third baseman Curt Powell reached on a single and advanced to second on an error by Roth. A base hit by Hyams moved him to third and he scored when Cone bounced into a double play.
The Gamecocks cut the deficit to 3-1 in their half of the third. Second baseman Scott Wingo reached on a bunt single, took second on a walk to Jackie Bradley Junior and scored on a two-out single by Morales. USC looked for more after putting runners at the corners with two outs but Wood retired designated hitter Jake Williams. Georgia flashed the leather to end the fifth as Hyams made a leaping catch of a liner by Bradley Junior. Then in the sixth, the Gamecocks put two on with one out and Wood came off the mound to make a nice play on a slow roller to record an out and Powell made a play on a chopper and his throw was scooped up nicely by first baseman Jonathan Hester to end the inning and maintain a 3-1 edge.
Georgia threatened in the seventh with two men in scoring position after Verdin led off with a bunt single, a one-out walk walk to Hyams, and a failed by pickoff attempt by reliever John Taylor. However, Taylor struck out Cone for the second out. USC intentionally walked Davidson to load the bases for Farmer, and Taylor struck him out to bring the crowd to their feet. Meanwhile, Wood cruised the seventh and eighth before some drama in the ninth. The Bulldogs added an insurance run in the top of the ninth on an RBI-single by Hyams, scoring Verdin who led off with a single and took second on a bunt by Powell.
With one out in the ninth, catcher Brady Thomas connected for his second home run of the year to make it 4-2. Then Wood walked Robert Beary on four pitches and after starting off Mooney with a ball, Perno turned to Maloof to close it out. He struck out Mooney for the second out. Then, he got ahead of Wingo 1-2, and then the Gamecock second baseman smashed one to deep right field that Verdin ran down and caught at the base of the wall.
The series continues Saturday with first pitch slated for 4 p.m. The Bulldogs will start junior right-hander Michael Palazzone (2-1, 3.13 ERA) while the Gamecocks will counter with junior left-hander Steven Neff (2-0, 3.07 ERA). ##