No. 25 Georgia Splits DH with No. 10 Kentucky
March 31, 2012
ATHENS, Ga.--- The 25th-ranked Bulldogs split a double-header with No. 10 Kentucky Saturday at Foley Field, winning game one 7-6 and dropping the second 9-8. A season-high crowd of 3,100 saw plenty of offense Saturday.
Georgia (18-9, 4-3 SEC) handed Kentucky only its second loss of the year as they fell to 25-2, 5-2 in the SEC. Georgia tallied the first runs of the contest in the second inning. After two singles by Brett DeLoach and Conor Welton, senior Peter Verdin smacked his second triple of the season down the right field line to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 advantage. In the third, freshman Hunter Cole added to the lead with a solo homerun to left field. Cole has a team leading five homeruns on the season and extended his hitting streak to ten games.
The Bulldogs added insurance runs thanks to a bases loaded RBI single by designated hitter Kevin Ruiz, a bases loaded walk by Welton, and a sacrifice fly by Verdin increasing Georgia's lead to 6-0. Kentucky pitcher Taylor Rogers tossed 5.1 innings, surrendering six runs off of nine hits while striking out five batters and was relieved by Sam Mahar.
Kentucky made it an even contest in the seventh after a seven hit inning where the team batted around and scored six runs. Kentucky had five singles and a double by Thomas McCarthy. Outfielder Austin Cousino smacked a three-run homerun to right field. Brian Benzor gave up two runs after replacing Alex Wood.
Alex Wood threw 6.1 innings and gave up four runs off of seven hits while recording five strikeouts. The Bulldogs fought back and added a run thanks to a deep double to center by DeLoach that scored Curt Powell who reached base with a walk to start the inning. Georgia took the lead for good, 7-6 after seven frames.
Bryan Benzor recorded the win (4-1). Sam Mahar received the loss (1-1) after relieving Rogers. Blake Dietrich earned his fifth save, shutting the Wildcats out in the final two innings.
The Bulldogs fell short in a shootout that included 28 hits and 11 pitching changes, as Kentucky won 9-8 to move its record to 26-2 overall, 6-2 in the SEC.
Georgia (18-10, 4-4 SEC) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first when Curt Powell scored from first base on a two-out Hunter Cole double to the center field wall. Cole extended his hitting streak to 11 games and would have crossed home plate himself if not for a spectacular diving catch from Kentucky left fielder Lucas Witt to put Brett DeLoach out and end the inning.
The Bulldogs added one run in each of the next two innings on singles from Brandon Stephens. In the second he hit a chopper into left field to plate Colby May, and in the third he scored DeLoach after Kentucky starting pitcher Jerad Grundy left the game.
Kentucky surged back in the fourth to take a 4-3 lead. After sitting his first batter, Georgia's Pete Nagel gave up three consecutive hits to load the bases. He yielded the mound to Chase Hawkins, who allowed A.J. Reed to score on a walk. Michael Williams then blasted a bases-clearing double before Hawkins could retire the side.
In the bottom of the frame, Georgia tied it at 4-4 on a two-out RBI single from DeLoach (3-5, 2 RBI). Curt Powell scored from second in a close play at the plate. The Bulldogs then had runners at the corners but were unable to get anything else, with Colby May striking out to end the inning.
The Wildcats used their next at-bat to retake the lead, as Thomas McCarthy led off with a towering solo homer. Jay Swinford, who replaced Hawkins to start the fifth inning, then forced three straight outs to keep the tally at 5-4.
Georgia answered in the sixth, picking up two runs to go ahead, 6-5. Kyle Farmer and Cole both walked with no outs, and DeLoach followed with a liner to score Farmer and put Cole at second. A wild pitch advanced both runners, and, after winning pitcher Alex Phillips (4-0) took over the mound, Conor Welton knocked a grounder to short that brought Cole home.
Things swung back Kentucky's way in the next inning, as the Wildcats added three runs for the fourth lead change of the game. Austin Cousino led off with a walk, after which losing pitcher Luke Crumley (1-2) came in to relieve Earl Daniels. Crumley forced fly outs from his first two batters, and then threw a wild pitch that put Cousino on second. Reed singled to drive in Cousino and was followed by Cameron Flynn, who blasted a home run to make it 8-6.
Georgia got one run back during its turn. Pete Verdin opened up with a triple, his second of the day, and tagged up on a Farmer fly ball to put the score at 8-7, in favor of Kentucky, after seven.
Both teams got a runner across in the eighth, with J.T. Riddle coming home for the Wildcats and May for the Bulldogs, setting what would be the final tally at 9-8. The ninth was the only inning in which neither team scored at least one run.
"I thought we did some good things today; we responded well after their big inning in the first game, and in the second, we just didn't play well enough to win," said Georgia coach David Perno. "Blake Dietierch was excellent in game one, but overall the bullpen had a tough day against a very good Kentucky lineup. We need to get a few guys going there as well as a couple of guys at the plate. I thought the bottom of the order was very productive."
Georgia will finish up its series with Kentucky on Sunday at 2 p.m.
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