Levi Hyams hit two home runs in Sunday's 7-6 win.
May 15, 2011
LEXINGTON, KY.-----Levi Hyams hit two home runs and drove in four while Tyler Maloof collected his NCAA-leading 16th save to lift Georgia past Kentucky 7-6 Sunday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
With the victory, Georgia (26-26, 15-12 SEC) clinched a spot in the eight-team Southeastern Conference Tournament, May 25-29 in Hoover, Alabama.
On Sunday, the Bulldogs grabbed their first lead of the series in the second inning, exploding for four runs on four hits. Junior right fielder Chase Davidson got it started with a leadoff double. He went to third on a base hit by designated hitter Brett DeLoach. First baseman Jonathan Hester made it 1-0 with a sacrifice fly. After freshman catcher Brandon Stephens struck out, sophomore third baseman Curt Powell delivered an RBI-single. On a 1-0 pitch, Hyams extended the lead to 4-0 with a two-run blast to right field.
Kentucky (24-28, 7-20 SEC) cut the deficit in half in the third inning. Right fielder Neiko Johnson notched his second home run of the year. Taylor Black followed with a double and scored on a one-out single by third baseman Thomas McCarthy that closed the gap to 4-2. In the fifth, a leadoff walk to Hyams led to another run. He moved in to scoring position on a two-out single by Zach Cone. Then Davidson lined a 3-2 pitch to centerfield to bring Hyams home for a 5-2 advantage. That hit chased Kentucky starter Jordan Cooper as the Wildcats looked to Nick Kennedy who got them out of further trouble. Cooper allowed five runs on nine hits in 4.2 innings pitched.
Sophomore Blake Dieterich and the Bulldogs thwarted a Wildcat rally attempt in the fifth, loading the bases with one out. After a mound visit by Georgia coach David Perno, Dieterich battled back to strikeout catcher Michael Wlliams on three pitched. Then on a 3-1 count to designated hitter Braden Kapteyn, he got him to bounce into an inning-ending fielder’s choice to keep it 5-2.
In the sixth, Georgia reverted to its second inning formula for a rally. With two outs, Powell kept the inning going with a base hit hit and Hyams followed with his second, two-run home run of the contest. He blasted this one off Kennedy to give the Bulldogs a 7-2 lead. It was his fourth home run and gave him a career-tying four RBI in the game and 34 for the year.
Georgia turned to sophomore Earl Daniels to start the bottom of the frame in relief of Dieterich who allowed two runs on eight hits in five innings of his first career SEC start. It was Dieterich’s first start of the year after leading the team with 24 relief appearances. The Wildcats greeted Daniels with a leadoff triple from Luke Maile and a run-scoring double by Lucas Witt. McCarthy continued to haunt the Bulldogs, smacking a two-out two-run double in the frame as he improved to 10-for-13 in the series. By the time the inning finished, Kentucky had scored four runs on five hits and pulled back within one at 7-6. Sophomore right-hander Bryan Benzor started the seventh for the Bulldogs who also inserted junior Peter Verdin in right field for Davidson.
In the eighth, Hyams came up with one on and two out. With a 3-1 count, home plate umpire Todd Henderson called a strike on inside pitch that Hyams had to move out of the way to avoid being hit. It brought Perno out of the dugout and shortly thereafter he was ejected by Henderson. Hyams would draw a walk on the next pitch. After a pitching change to bring in Alex Phillips, Welton singled to load the bases for Farmer. However, he lined out to McCarthy at third. Benzor did a nice job in relief, pitching two innings, retiring all six Wildcats he faced.
Georgia carried a 7-6 lead to the bottom of the ninth and sophomore closer Tyler Maloof came on to face the heart of the Wildcat order in Wright, McCarthy and Williams. Verdin, who made a leaping catch at the wall for the first out of the Kentucky eighth, made a diving catch on a liner by Wright for the first out of the ninth. Maloof struck out McCarthy for the second out. Then, he got Williams to bounce one back to him that he fielded and tagged him for the final out. For Maloof, he is now 16-for-16 in save situations this season, which ranks in a tie for first nationally.
“I’m very proud of the team, I’ve never felt better about winning just one game in a series, but we had to have this one for a lot of reasons including clinching a spot in the SEC Tournament,” said Perno. “Blake did a fine job in his first start and Bryan (Benzor) and Tyler held the Wildcats the final three innings and we made some fine defensive plays too. Now, we have to have a winning week to finish the regular season and get some momentum going to the SEC Tournament and have a chance to keep playing further in the postseason. ”
Georgia begins a four-game home stand Tuesday when it plays host to Kennesaw State (28-21) at 5 p.m. Then, the final SEC regular season series opens up Thursday at Foley Field as the Bulldogs battle top-ranked Vanderbilt (42-7, 20-6 SEC).