Nine-Run Ninth Rallies Georgia Past Auburn 14-11
May 8, 2011
AUBURN, ALA.-----Kyle Farmer’s grand slam capped a nine-run ninth inning to power Georgia past Auburn 14-11 Sunday at Plainsman Park.
The Tigers (25-22, 11-13 SEC) were looking for a series sweep and jumped ahead 8-0 in the first. Auburn’s early outburst came off junior left-hander Craig Gullickson who failed to get out of the first inning. He allowed eight runs on seven hits before leaving with two outs as Georgia looked to sophomore Bryan Benzor. Shortstop Casey McElroy had a pair of RBI-singles in the frame, and the big blast came from centerfielder Creede Simpson who connected for a three-run home run as the Tigers sent 13 to the plate in the first inning. Sophomore right-hander Slade Smith was the beneficiary of this early support and went six innings in his first league start of the year.
Georgia (25-23, 14-10 SEC) had a chance to climb back in the contest, loading the bases with one out in the fourth. However, it managed just one run on a two-out walk to Jonathan Hester that made it 8-1. Benzor provided a solid relief effort, pitching a career-high 3.1 shutout innings before the Bulldogs turned to senior John Herman to start the Tiger fifth. Also, Georgia junior catcher Carson Schilling entered the game at that point. The Tigers got the run back in that inning. Herman issued a two-out walk to Cullen Wacker and then Justin Hargett smashed an RBI-double to center. Then, Georgia brought in sophomore Earl Daniels.
Georgia trimmed the deficit to five after scoring three runs on two hits in the sixth. Farmer reached on a leadoff walk and scored on an RBI-double by Zach Cone. The Bulldogs went to their bench and sent up pinch-hitter Chase Davidson. He crushed a two-run home run off Smith to make it 9-4. It was his fourth home run of the year and Georgia’s first pinch-hit blast since Peter Verdin delivered against Winthrop in 2009.
In the seventh, Auburn turned it over to its bullpen as Zach Blatt came on for Smith. Georgia put two on with two out and Blatt struck out Cone to keep it 9-4. Smith allowed four runs on five hits with four walks and seven strikeouts in six innings. A leadoff walk in the seventh led to the Tigers 10th run. Auburn loaded the bases in that inning but sophomore Blake Dieterich got Fradejas to pop out and struck out Dan Gamache to avoid another big frame. A leadoff walk to Davidson in the eighth led to Georgia’s fifth run.
The Bulldogs made one of their all-time great comebacks in school history in the ninth. Pinch-hitter Lance Martin and Farmer reached on walks. After retiring Cone, Davidson blasted his second home run of the contest, a three-run shot to centerfield off Dillon Ortman to close the gap to 11-8. It was Davidson’s first two-home run game in his career, and the first by a Bulldog since Cone last year against Furman. The Bulldogs loaded the bases of Ethan Wallen on a walk to Hester, pinch-hitter Curt Powell was hit by a pitch and Schilling lined a base hit to left. After a walk to Kevin Ruiz forced in Georgia’s ninth run of the day, the Tigers went to the bullpen again in left-hander Sean Ray. Hyams stepped up with the bases loaded and one out with the Bulldogs trialing 11-9. Hyams fell behind 1-2 and then worked a walk to bring in another run, and Martin came up for the second time in the inning. Ray struck out Martin on a 1-2 pitch, and it was all up to Farmer. He smashed a 1-0 offering over the green monster in left for a grand slam, the first by a Bulldog since 2009. For Farmer, it was his seventh home run of the year and gave him a team-leading 48 RBI for the year. Suddenly, the Bulldogs led 14-11 courtesy of a nine-run outburst. Cone was retired to send it to the bottom of the ninth.
“Bryan Benzor did a super job out of the bullpen ,and we were trying to break through offensively, they walked us a lot, and we couldn’t put together a big inning until the ninth,” said Georgia coach David Perno. “Then, we got the right guys up those big situations, especially Kyle Farmer with the grand slam to give us the lead. Chase came up big too, with two home runs. We used everybody today, a lot of parts. This is an exciting team to be around, and this one was a lot of fun and will make the bus ride home a lot shorter.”
In the bottom of the ninth, Auburn got a leadoff single from Wacker. Maloof then struck out Hargett and got Fradejas to bounce into game-ending double play. Maloof got the win to improve to 2-1 while Wallen fell to 4-4.
The Bulldogs will return to action Wednesday at 5 p.m. when they play host to Mercer. The Bears are 29-17 this season. Earlier this year, Georgia posted an 8-6 win over Mercer in Macon.