#4 USC Edges Georgia 2-1
March 19, 2011
COLUMBIA, S.C.----Fourth-ranked South Carolina scored a run in the eighth and one in the ninth Saturday to edge Georgia 2-1 in front of a crowd of 8,105 at Carolina Stadium.
The game ended on an infield single by Scott Wingo off sophomore Patrick Boling, scoring Adrian Morales who led off the bottom of the ninth with a base hit. Wingo outraced Boling to the bag at first as Jonathan Hester made a diving stop of his grounder and flipped it to Boling. Earlier in the frame, Morales had moved to second on a single by Jake Williams and took third on a sacrifice bunt by Evan Marzilli. Matt Price pitched the top of the ninth to pick up a victory to even his record to 1-1 while Boling dropped to 0-1.
Georgia junior pitcher Michael Palazzone was brilliant in blanking the Gamecocks for a career-high 7.2 innings before losing the shutout bid. It ended his scoreless innings pitched streak at 14 dating back to last week's win over Southern California in Los Angeles.
"Michael was phenomenal, and it's a tough loss for us, and we've had a few of those this year," said Georgia coach David Perno. "It's tough to win an SEC game with five hits. The only run we scored was in an inning when we didn't get a hit. We have to get more offensive production, and the ball that fell in the eighth for their triple was in the air too long not to be caught. We didn't' take charge out there on that play, and it cost us."
In the first, Palazzone set the tone by pitching around a throwing error by catcher Joey Delmonico. Right fielder Adam Matthews reached with a one-out single, stole second and went to third on the errant throw. However, Palazzone battled back to strikeout first baseman Christian Walker and got catcher Brady Thomas to fly out to end the threat.
Georgia (9-10, 1-1 SEC) manufactured its lone run in the third without the benefit of a hit to take a 1-0 lead on Steven Neff. Delmonico drew a leadoff walk and moved to second when Peter Verdin was hit by a pitch. Curt Powell put both Bulldogs in scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, and second baseman Levi Hyams' RBI-groundout brought Delmonico home. In the fourth, Thomas lined a one-out single to left center and tried to stretch it in to a double but was thrown out by Zach Cone who fired a strike to Hyams covering the bag. USC threatened again in the fifth putting two on with two out and Palazzone responded by striking out Matthews to maintain Georgia's 1-0 edge.
South Carolina (13-4, 1-1 SEC) tied the game with two outs in the eighth. After Palazzone struck out the first two Gamecocks, Matthews connected for a triple to the gap in right field that dropped between Davidson and a diving Cone. Then, Walker followed with a game-tying RBI-double. It ended Palazzone's outing. Georgia looked to Boling. On a 3-2 count, he threw high to Thomas but a balk was called and the Gamecocks opted to take the balk as Walker moved to third. Boling came back to strike out Thomas and send it to the ninth tied 1-1.
Georgia tried to answer in the top of the ninth. Hyams started it off by extending his hitting streak to 11 games with a base hit off Price. He struck out Cone for the first out before Davidson smacked a single to right. Price struck out Farmer and got Hester to bounce out to extinguish the threat.
The series concludes Sunday at 1:30 p.m. The Bulldogs will start junior left-hander Craig Gullickson (1-1, 4.50 ERA) while the Gamecocks have not announced a starter.