Diamond Dawgs Shut Out Mercer

ATHENS - Georgia pitcher Johnny Dobbs still has bad memories of coming out of the bullpen last week against Vanderbilt. After pitching the Bulldogs to a 13-0 win over Mercer on Wednesday afternoon, he won't have to worry about that anymore.

"We needed to solidify a mid-week starter," Georgia coach David Perno said. "We hadn't had anybody step up into that role, and I think he did that today."

Georgia (20-10) won its fourth straight in front of 1,742 fans at Foley Field. It was the second shutout inflicted by the Bulldogs and the fourth suffered by the Bears (14-24) this season.

"I think Georgia is playing as well right now as they have under David," first-year Mercer coach Craig Gibson said. "It's a tough time to play in Athens."

Dobbs was a starter and closer at Chattahoochee Valley Community College in Phenix City, Ala., before joining the Bulldogs this year. He had made only eight relief appearances and pitched 141/3 innings prior to Wednesday's game.

In a March 28 game against Vanderbilt, he gave up four runs and didn't record an out in a 12-8 loss.

"I try to think about that a lot and use it as motivation," he said. "Today felt great after that rough outing."

Knowing he probably won't be coming out of the bullpen anymore might feel even better. Dobbs will get the start next Wednesday against Georgia Tech, Perno said.

"I talked to him before the season, and I had the image of him being a reliever," Perno said, "and he always asked that question: What about a start? What about a start? Well, now he's got them."

Dobbs (3-2) was perfect for 41/3 innings before he surrendered a single to designated hitter Andrew Einert. He finished with seven strikeouts and four hits allowed in six innings.

"He's a frontline guy," Gibson said. "I don't know why he hasn't had more innings.

Georgia put the game away early, by sending 10 batters to the plate and scoring six runs in the bottom of the first inning. The big blow was a bases-loaded double by catcher Derek Smith that drove in three. Mercer starter Brian Jones also walked home a run.

Jones, the Bears' ace who entered the game with a 3.24 ERA, took the loss and fell to 6-4. He gave up solo home runs to Joey Side and Smith in the third and gave way to Philip Morrison for the fourth inning.

"(Smith) is a senior and he's throwing well. We felt like he deserved the start," Gibson said. "We just didn't play very well behind him." Smith, the Bulldogs' reserve catcher, was 2-for-3 with four RBI and three runs scored before being pulled in the seventh inning.

"Every chance I get, I have to take advantage of it," he said.

The Bears showed signs of life just once, in the sixth inning, when Ty Megahee, Chase Swanson and Rick Byrd singled consecutively to load the bases with no outs. However, Dobbs responded by striking out Mercer's Nos. 2, 3 and 4 hitters -- Roger Alvarez, Daniel Hurst and Josh Thompson. (Alvarez, Hurst and Thompson were 0-for-10 overall.)

"That was big crunch time," Gibson said. "(Dobbs) just bowed it, and we didn't respond. We had our chance."

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