All Even: Dawgs force a Winner-Take-All

ATHENS – Florida State threw its best pitcher against Georgia on Sunday evening. In response, the Bulldogs threw everything they had at the Seminoles. Score one for the committee approach. Georgia, the NCAA Tournament's No. 7 seed, beat Florida State 7-1 and stayed alive in the Athens Regional with a mostly seamless pitching performance from Jason Leaver, Rip Warren and Josh Fields.

The Bulldogs (44-20) started the day on the ropes but beat Jacksonville 15-8 Sunday afternoon and then the Seminoles (44-20) in the nightcap to set up today's winner-take-all regional final at Foley Field.

"At this point, it's about will; it's about grit; it's about team," Georgia coach David Perno said. "It's about everything this team is about."

The Bulldogs, who won for the 20th time in the last 24 games, are now 13-2 in NCAA Regional elimination games.

"That was a game Georgia just beat us," Florida State coach Mike Martin said. "They just got it done."

The Seminoles beat Georgia 6-4 Friday night to earn their advantageous position, but they couldn't finish things off Sunday. Starting pitcher Bryan Henry, who led Florida State with a 2.65 ERA entering the game, gave up a three-run home run to Josh Morris in the seventh inning that gave the Bulldogs a 5-1 lead.

It was Morris' 23rd home run of the season, tying the Bulldogs' single-season record also held by Andy Osbolt. Morris extended his school career record to 51 long balls.

"Fifty-one was a big one," Perno said. "Fifty-two needs to be even bigger. That's the plan."

Morris drove a fastball that he described as "about a foot outside" through the patch of Leyland Cyprus trees that looms over Georgia's left field wall.

"The ball was where it was supposed to be, outside," Henry said. "He's just a big, strong guy."

Still, it was Georgia's pitching staff that did the heavy lifting. Having used their top three starters just to get into Sunday evening's game, the Bulldogs started Leaver, a freshman left-hander who opened just one game during the SEC season.

He responded like a veteran, holding Florida State scoreless for the first five innings. He found his first trouble in the sixth as the Seminoles loaded the bases with no outs and appeared poised to erase a 2-0 deficit.

Perno then went to Warren, who pitched three scoreless innings against the Seminoles on Friday. He again had the Florida State's number, retiring the Seminoles' Nos. 4, 5 and 6 hitters and allowing just one run to cross the plate.

(Florida State was the home team Sunday due to the regional's pre-determined rotation.)

"That was a good opportunity, wasn't it?" said Martin, whose team left 11 runners on base. "I thought Georgia's pitchers made very good pitches when we had some chances."

Leaver got the win to improve to 3-2 on the season.

After Warren pitched two scoreless innings, Perno went to first team All-SEC closer Josh Fields, who was pitching for the first time in eight days. He struggled with his control, walking four, but didn't allow a run.

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