April 26, 2011
ATLANTA, GA. --- On a night when injured Bulldog Johnathan Taylor returned briefly to watch his team in action, Georgia responded with a 6-4 win over ninth-ranked Georgia Tech Tuesday in front of a crowd of 18,156 at Turner Field.
Powered by a five-run outburst led by junior shortstop Kyle Farmer (2-for-5, 3 RBI), the Bulldogs improved to 7-2 all-time in the "Spring Baseball Classic" against the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech (30-11) had won the two on-campus meetings earlier this year, but on Tuesday, the Bulldogs picked up their SEC-leading 11th win over a ranked opponent. Bulldog junior Tyler Maloof notched his SEC-leading 14th save, pitching a scoreless ninth frame.
Taylor, a 5-8, 181-pound native of Acworth, Ga., is currently a patient at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. He suffered a serious neck injury on March 6 in an outfield collision during a game against Florida State. Tuesday marked the first time he was back around in his teammates since the accident. He met with the team before the game and watched the first four innings from the Bulldog dugout before returning to the Sheperd Center.
"We had an opportunity to spend some time with J.T. before the game, and he looks great and is doing great," said Georgia coach David Perno. "The last time we all saw him together was very emotional because he was in intensive care right after the accident. Tonight, it was nice to see his smile again and the guys had a chance to visit. He's got a magnetic personality. It's going to be a long haul, and we're all in this together. It was just a wonderful night.
"We did a great job and this was a huge win for us," Perno added. "We got the big inning in the fourth and made it stick. That's becoming the key for us. The last eight and two-thirds we didn't walk anybody, and that was big. Tonight was about putting guys in the right situations and getting the job done."
Georgia went to the bullpen with one out in the second after junior right-hander Ben Cornwell staked the Yellow Jackets to a 2-0 lead. He gave up a one-out double to Daniel Palka, issued a four-pitch walk to Zane Evans and then Mott Hyde drew a walk to load the bases. Brandon Thomas followed with an infield single to score the first run. A wild pitch allowed the second run to score and Cornwell was lifted in favor of sophomore Bryan Benzor. He got Kyle Wren to groundout to first and then Tech's base runners got caught in a run down and Hyde was thrown out at the plate to end the frame.
Georgia tried to answer in the top of the third after a couple of two-out walks to Levi Hyams and Conor Welton. However, freshman right-hander Matt Grimes retired shortstop Farmer on a first-pitch fly out to right field.
The Bulldogs chased Grimes in the fourth. Georgia pushed across its first run in the frame when junior left fielder Zach Cone drew a leadoff walk, stole second (11-for-11 on the year), went to third on a one-out base hit by Kevin Ruiz and scored when Jonathan Hester extended his hitting streak to seven games with an RBI-single. Then with two outs, third baseman Curt Powell kept the inning going with a bunt single to load the bases for Hyams. The junior second baseman smashed a two-run single to right to put the Bulldogs in front 3-2. It extended Hyams' hitting streak to a career-best 12 games. Tech turned to freshman DeAndre Smelter. Welton worked a walk to load the bases for Farmer. The Southeastern Conference RBI-leader added two more to his total with a two-run single to make it 5-3. Farmer has 43 RBI on the season. Cone came up for the second time in the inning and was hit by a pitch to load the bases for designated hitter Brett DeLoach who bounced into a fielder's choice to end the five-run outburst. Grimes' final line was 3.2 innings pitched, surrendering five runs on five hits with three walks and seven strikeouts.
"It was really exciting to see J.T. again, he gave us a lot of life, a lot of energy and we wanted to come out and get him a win," said Hyams.
Tech got a run back in the bottom of the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Hyde, scoring Palka who reached on a one-out single and went to third on a double by Zane Evans. Farmer made a running over-the-shoulder catch in shallow left to keep Georgia in front 5-3. After retiring the first Tech batter in the fifth, Georgia brought in senior John Hermam. Benzor gave the Bulldogs a career-high three innings and allowed just one run on two hits with no walks and two strikeouts. In the sixth, Tech closed it to 5-4 with a solo home run from Daniel Palka,his eighth of the year. Herman provided 1.2 innings before turning it over to sophomore right-hander Earl Daniels to start the bottom of the seventh.
With two outs in the eighth, Farmer delivered again with an RBI-single to make it 6-4, scoring Hyams who was on after a base hit and went to second on a stolen base. Georgia junior left-hander Blake Dieterich pitched the eighth and Maloof took care of the Jackets in the ninth.
The Bulldogs return to SEC action Friday for the first of a three-game series with 14th-ranked Arkansas (28-11, 9-9 SEC). First pitch at Foley Field is slated for 6:30 p.m.