April 2, 2011
ATHENS, Ga. --- Junior Michael Palazzone provided 8.2 strong innings and the Bulldogs hit a pair of home runs to post a 4-3 win over 24th-ranked Mississippi State here Saturday to clinch another Southeastern Conference series.
Georgia (13-14, 5-3) has won four straight SEC games and improved to 8-9 against ranked teams this season. Last week, they took a series from ninth-ranked LSU. MSU fell to 19-8 overall, 4-4 in the SEC.
It was a pitcher's duel until two outs in the fifth when State pushed across a run off of Palazzone. Designated hitter Trey Johnson smacked a double and shortstop Jonathan Ogden followed with a base hit up the middle to make it 1-0. MSU right-hander Chris Stratton had allowed just two hits with one walk and five strikeouts up to that point.
With one out, Georgia shortstop Kyle Farmer reached on a base hit and went to second a wild pitch. Zach Cone followed with a single to the left side that Ogden was able to keep from going in the outfield as Farmer had to stay at second. Then on a 3-1 count, sophomore designated hitter Brett DeLoach brought the crowd of 2,496 to their feet when he smashed a three-run home run to left field. It was his first home run of the season and third of his career. Junior first baseman Jonathan Hester followed by hitting the first pitch from Stratton over the centerfield fence to make it 4-1. It was Hester's third home run of the year and marked his first SEC hit of the year. He was 0-for-16 in league play until that at bat. It was the first back-to-back home runs by the Bulldogs since last season's Furman contest on March 24 when Colby May and Cone did it.
"It's been pretty neat to rally behind our starting pitchers like we have the last few games," said Georgia head coach David Perno. "We've got a little bit of a softball staff going and hopefully you'll see more of the same tomorrow. (Michael) Palazzone did a fantastic job and I wanted to leave him in to get the complete game but we felt like we needed to turn the ball over to (Tyler) Maloof for matchup purposes. Tyler came in and got the last out. Palazzone has repeatedly given us the innings that we have needed and it's great to have your Friday and Saturday starters able to go deep into games and give you great innings."
Palazzone improved to 4-1 overall including 2-0 with a 1.16 ERA in three starts against top 25 SEC teams. He has not allowed a walk in his last 25 innings pitched, a span of four games. This streak began in his final 1.2 innings against Southern California in Los Angeles and has continued versus fourth-ranked South Carolina and at home against the Tigers and Bulldogs.
In the eighth, Ogden connected for a one-out triple off the centerfield wall. Right fielder Jaron Shephered notched an RBI on a groundout to first to make it 4-2. State closed the gap to 4-3 with an unearned run in the ninth. Maloof came on with one on and two out and struck out Adam Frazier for his SEC-leading 10th save. Maloof is 10-for-10 in save opportunities this year.
The series concludes Sunday with first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m.