May 19, 2011
ATHENS-----Michael Palazzone retired 19 of the final 20 batters he faced to notch his third complete game and his ninth win of the season as the Bulldogs defeated third-ranked Vanderbilt 5-4 Thursday at Foley Field.
Palazzone (9-3) has six wins over ranked foes this season and improved to 7-2 in the SEC. The Bulldogs moved their record to 28-26 overall and 16-12 in the SEC.
Vanderbilt (42-9, 20-8 SEC) started the scoring in the top of the 2nd when Curt Casali knocked an RBI-double into right center field bringing home Mike Yastrzemski. Later in the inning, with runners on corners, Riley Reynolds knocked a single into right field giving Vanderbilt a 2-0 lead. Tony Kemp added another run for Vanderbilt with a drag bunt that brought home Connor Harrell.
In the bottom of the frame, Georgia quickly responded with a lead-off homer from Chase Davidson off Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray that sailed over the batter's eye in center field. It was his sixth home run of the year.
In the 3rd inning, Vanderbilt answered when Aaron Westlake hit his 12th home-run of the season to put its lead back to three, 4-1.
Georgia responded in the bottom of the 3rd with a lead-off home run, this time by Peter Verdin, his first of the season. Verdin was wearing the number two jersey in honor of teammate Jonathan Taylor who sustained a neck injury earlier this season. Before Thursday, Gray had allowed just two home runs on the year in 89.1 innings.
Georgia made it a one-run game in the bottom of the fourth when Verdin tallied his second RBI of the night with a two-out hit into left center field bringing in Curt Powell from second.
In the bottom of the 6th, after loading the bases with two outs, Hyams drew a walk allowing Powell to score from third and tie the game, 4-4..
In the bottom of the 7th, Georgia took a 5-4 lead after Farmer scored from third on a wild pitch by Vanderbilt relief pitcher Will Clinard. He got the loss to fall to 1-2. Gray went six innings and was touched for a season-high four runs on nine hits with three walks and six strikeouts.
In the top of the 9th, Palazzone retired the side for the victory. One interesting note on Palazzone. After throwing 30 balls through the first four innings, he threw just six more over the final five innings.
"I just can't say enough about Palazzone. He was just phenomenal," said Bulldog head coach David Perno. "When Michael settled in we were able to grab the momentum. When you're at home, and you can keep the game close, our guys believe in themselves and can do special things."
Georgia will try to clinch its final home series of the season Friday with first pitch slated for 7 p.m at Foley Field.