Diamond Dogs Enjoy Record-Setting Season In 2009

Georgia won its first 14 games in 2009 including a three-game sweep at Arizona, breaking the 98-year old record for the best start in program history.  On March 9, unbeaten Georgia was ranked No. 1 in the regular season for the first time in school history and the Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 five different weeks throughout the year. The Bulldogs were in sole possession of first place in the SEC with four series to play, stumbled down the stretch but still advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time in school history. In annual non-conference tilts, Georgia swept No. 17 Clemson and split two games against Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs beat the Jackets at Turner Field for the fifth straight year and won the first two games in the SEC Tournament, beating No. 7 Ole Miss and College World Series participant Arkansas before being eliminated by LSU to finish in a tie for third.  After Georgia played host to a regional in 2008, the Bulldogs made their first back-to-back appearances in a regional since the 2001-02 seasons as the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tallahassee Regional. After a 24-8 romp over No. 3 seed Ohio State in the opener, Georgia fell to Florida State then had its season end with a loss to the Buckeyes. The Bulldogs, who finished the season with a 38-24 overall record and a 15-15 mark in league play, made their fifth NCAA postseason appearance under David Perno, more than any other coach in program history.

For the second straight year, Georgia set school records for total attendance and average attendance at Foley Field. A total of 93,360 fans were in attendance for 32 home dates for an average of 2,917 fans per game. The 2009 Bulldogs attracted five of the top 10 largest crowds in Foley Field history including the largest crowd of 4,461 for the 4-0 win over No. 25 Mississippi State on March 21.

The Bulldogs hit 109 home runs in 2009, breaking the record of 105 home runs set by the 1987 team. Previously, Georgia had hit more than 78 home runs just once in the David Perno era (96 in 2008). Georgia entered the 2009 season averaging 63 home runs per season under Perno. Junior first baseman Rich Poythress accounted for 25 home runs, which is second most in a single season. Senior catcher/designated hitter Bryce Massanari and junior catcher/DH Joey Lewis each hit 19 home runs including 13 by Massanari in SEC games, which was tied for second most in the league. Massanari hit .305  and was named second team All-SEC and to the All Ping!Baseball Team.

Poythress was the team's triple crown winner with a .376 average, 25 home runs and a single season school record and SEC-leading 86 RBI. He became the first player in Georgia history to record two 70 RBI seasons and finished his career second on Georgia's career RBI list with 185. He had 25 multiple hit games, 22 multiple RBI games and four multi-home run games including two games with three home runs, the second player in Georgia history to accomplish that feat. Poythress was named National Player of the Week after he went 6-for-7 with four home runs, two doubles and nine RBI in two games against Tennessee. His 2009 honors include Louisville Slugger All-America, NCBWA District IV Player of the Year, Rivals.com All-America, All Ping!Baseball Team, NCBWA Second Team All-America, First Team All-SEC and SEC All-Defensive Team. He was also a semifinalist for Golden Spikes Award and the Dick Howser Trophy. Poythress was drafted in the second round with the 51st overall pick by the Seattle Mariners.

Freshman Colby May emerged as one of Georgia's leading hitters and finished second on the team with a .339 average. He started all 62 games at third base and hit 11 home runs with 42 RBI and was voted Freshman All-SEC by the league's coaches. May was joined by fellow freshmen Johnathan Taylor, Levi Hyams, Zach Cone and Chase Davidson in the opening day starting lineup. Taylor, Cone and freshman outfielder Peter Verdin hit above .300 for the season, and Cone ended the year by hitting a team-high .417 in the postseason.

Senior pitcher Trevor Holder, who was drafted in the 10th round by the Florida Marlins in 2008, was selected in the third round by the Washington Nationals in the 2009 draft after leading the Bulldogs with seven wins this season. He finished his career with 22 career wins, tied with former Bulldog Cris Carpenter for fourth on the all-time UGA wins list. Sophomore Justin Grimm went 4-4 with a 4.15 ERA including a 2-0 mark and a 2.61 ERA in the postseason. The Bulldogs were led in the bullpen by junior Dean Weaver, who had 10 saves, and Will Harvil, the SEC's regular season appearances leader with 37. Jeff Walters, Cecil Tanner and Michael Palazzone combined to go 8-1 and Justin Earls had 33 appearances out of the Georgia bullpen.

With 45 wins in 2008 and 38 in 2009, Georgia has won 83 games in the last two seasons, the program's second highest win total in consecutive years. The Bulldogs have also won 35 SEC games in the last two seasons, which is tied for the most league wins in consecutive years in Georgia baseball history.
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