Sweep! Dawgs only 1 game back for SEC

STARKVILLE, MISS.---Georgia claimed an 8-6 victory in 11 innings over Mississippi State for its 12th straight win and a school record 10th consecutive Southeastern Conference victory. The Bulldogs (33-15, 15-9 SEC) are a game behind Florida and Arkansas in the overall race for the SEC title while MSU drops to 28-21 overall, 8-16 in the SEC.

Also, Georgia completed a three-game sweep in Starkville for the first time in school history with a dramatic come-from-behind win. In the 11th, Georgia got back-to-back hits from Josh Smith and Justin Holmes and then Marshall Szabo was hit by a Jon Crosby pitch to load the bases. Josh Morris broke the 6-6 tie with a sacrifice fly to center and designated hitter Derek Smith delivered a sacrifice fly to right to give the Bulldogs an 8-6 lead. Redshirt freshman Josh McClaughlin sent MSU down in the bottom of the inning to complete the sweep. Georgia became only the fifth team to ever sweep MSU in Starkville.

"I give all the credit to the players and my staff as they have done a tremendous job throughout this series and in this streak," said Georgia coach David Perno. "I think one thing that has helped us throughout this streak is that our guys understand what it's like to lose. We were 5-9 three weeks ago going into the Sunday game at LSU. We knew we had to win that game to get back in the race, and we did. We definitely prefer winning, and our guys have been very poised throughout this recent stretch."

Sophomore Mitchell Boggs earrned the win in relief of Paul Lubrano to go to 2-1 on the year while McLaughlin notched his first career save. Lubrano pitched in to the eighth, scattering five runs on 10 hits with two walks and six strikeouts. MSU reliever Jon Crosby fell to 1-1, allowing two runs on three hits with two strikeouts.

Georgia took a 1-0 lead in the first. Josh Smith singled to start the game and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Holmes. With two outs, freshman first baesman Josh Morris brought Smith home with a run-scoring double down the left field line. In the second, Holmes connected for his seventh home run of the year including his third of the series to make it 2-0.

Miss. State took a 4-2 lead in the third, taking advantage off a misplay by the Bulldogs that was not ruled an error. Joseph Hunter led off with a base hit and then Paul Lubrano struck out the next two MSU batter. Lubrano appeared to pick off Hunter attempting to steal second. Lubrano tossed to Morris with Hunter running, and he fired to Holmes covering, but on his slide Hunter knocked the ball out of Holmes' glove. Steve Gendron followed with a run-scoring single to get MSU on the board. Brad Corley singled to right and then catcher Craig Tatum launched a three-run home run to left to put MSU out in front 4-2. Georgia made it a one-run game again in the sixth. Marshall Szabo led off with a base hit, took second on a walk to Morris and advanced to third on a fielder's choice by Joey Side who was attempting to bunt. Clint Sammons hit a slow roller to second that allowed Szabo to score.

MSU got the run back in the bottom of the frame courtesy of a bloop double by Tyler Scarbrough and then a run-scoring single by Hunter gave MSU a 5-3 advantage. Georgia answered right back and took its first lead in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on four hits, all with two outs. Jonathan Wyatt singled, took third on hit-and-run when Smith singled to center. Wyatt scored on sacrifice fly by Holmes after a remarkable diving catch in center by Hunter. MSU lifted Brett Cleveland in favor of Jaime Gant. Szabo drew a walk to put runners at the corners. Then on an 0-2 pitch, Morris tied the game wtih a single to center, scoring Smith. Georgia looked to pinch-hitter Derek Smith who gave the Bulldogs a 6-5 lead with an RBI-double down the left field line. The Bulldogs had a chance to add to their lead in the ninth. With runners and second and third and one out, MSU brought in Jon Crosby who struck out Morris and Smith to keep it a one-run affair.

MSU sent the game into extra innings with a two-out, run-scoring double by Brad Jones, plating Gendron who reached on a one-out single off Boggs. Georgia escaped a huge jam in the bottom of the tenth. Thomas Berkery singled and then Hunter put down a nice bunt down the first base line that Boggs misplayed and threw away allowing Berkey to get to third. With the Bulldog infield in, pinch-hitter Tyler Jones bounced one to second allowing Szabo to turn a double play. Then, Bogg struck out Jeffrrey Rea to send it to the 11th.

"It was a tough play, Marshall was very aware on that and we got two outs, then a strikeout to get out of that situation which you rarely see," said Perno. "Things weren't looking good there for us, and I know Miss. State figured the odds were in their favor, and it turned out good for us and bad for them."

Earlier in the contest, Szabo made one of the most remarkable plays by a Bulldog infielder in recent history as he went back on a soft liner by Brad Corley in medium right field and snatched it bare-handed for an out.

Georgia returns to action Tuesday at 7 p.m. against Ga. Tech at Turner Field in Atlanta. The Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets have split the first two meetings this season with each team winning on the other's home field. All tickets are $10 with proceeds going to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. The game will be televised live by Fox Sports Net.

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