Dawgs win SEC season opener with walk

ATHENS - A bases-loaded walk to junior Matt Olson gave Georgia a 4-3 walk-off victory over 20th-ranked Auburn Friday at Foley Field in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

With the win, the Bulldogs (6-11, 1-0 SEC) snapped a three-game losing streak while the Tigers fell to 18-4, 0-1 SEC. Junior Joshua Fields pitched two scoreless innings for his first win of the year while Tiger closer Scott Shuman dropped to 4-1.

With the score tied at 3-all in the top of the ninth, Fields retired the first two Tigers before Bruce Edwards lined a single to left and Luke Greinke drew a walk. Catcher Josh Donaldson, the league's RBI leader, followed and Fields went right after him. Donaldson flew out to center. In the bottom of the frame, freshman Mike Freeman led off with a walk. It marked the fifth straight inning that Georgia's leadoff batter reached via the free pass. Pinch-runner Miles Starr then stole second base on a close call that brought Auburn head coach Tom Slater out of the dugout. Next, Senior Jonathan Wyatt (0-2, 2 RBI) drew a walk. Then, Shuman got Ryan Peisel to bounce one back to him for the first out. The Tigers opted to intentional walk Gordon Beckham to load the bases. Shuman lost Olson on a 3-1 offering as Starr walked home with a victory.

"Auburn has been very good all year with their strikeout to walk ratio, and we've been the opposite," said Georgia coach David Perno. "Our hitters had a much better approach tonight, they were patient and it paid dividends. We finally won a close game and that's good to see. "

Four Auburn pitchers combined to walk nine Bulldogs with only two strikeouts while three Georgia hurlers recorded seven strikeouts and only one walk.

The Tigers built a 2-0 advantage in the third with a couple of two-out RBI from Greinke and Donaldson off Georgia sophomore Nathan Moreau. Georgia got one run back in the third on a RBI-groundout by Wyatt. The Tigers went up 3-1 in the fourth when Ross Smith singled and later scored. Georgia turned to Nick Montgomery in the fifth, and he tossed three scoreless innings before giving way to Fields in the eighth. Georgia got a run in the sixth and tied the game in the seventh on a sacrifice fly from Wyatt. The Bulldogs threatened in the eighth, putting two on with one out when Auburn looked to Shuman in relief of Justin Bristow. He came on and struck out Luke Stewart and got Travis Parrot to groundout to keep it at 3-3.

The series continues Saturday with a 2 p.m. start. Georgia will start sophomore Trevor Holder (0-1, 3.86) while the Tigers counter with sophomore Paul Burnside (4-0, 3.86).

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