Dawgs rally past WCU

CULLOWHEE, NC - Down 6-4 in the eighth inning, Georgia exploded for eight runs to propel them for a 12-7 road win over Western Carolina Wednesday at Childress Field.

The Bulldogs (16-26) batted around in the eighth, scoring eight runs on nine hits as the Catamounts turned to their weekend starters and then closer but to no avail. The explosion started with a pair of freshmen pinch-hitters. Luke Stewart led off with a double followed by a single by Joey Lewis. Then on an 0-2 pitch, junior Travis Parrot came through with an RBI-double. Freshman Mike Freeman tied the game at 6-6 with an RBI-groundout. After two outs, Georgia added five more runs to build a 12-6 lead as Stewart and Lewis went 2-for-2 in the frame. Overall, Georgia pounded out 16 hits and have a total of 31 hits the past two games, avenging losses to WCU and Georgia Tech this week. WCU had won 14 of its past 15 games and now drops to 27-13.

"We didn't give up a big inning and we got two of them," said Georgia coach David Perno. "It was a very resilient effort, back-to-back road game victories. I knew it would be tough early and we got off to slow start but then came on in those two big innings. We're starting to play with some confidence and that's great to see and now need to carry it over in to conference play."

Senior Adam McDaniel notched the win with two scoreless innings as the Bulldogs employed five pitchers. The Catamounts turned to weekend starters Tyler Sexton and Corey Martin and then closer Greg Holland and the Bulldogs touched them for eight runs. Sexton fell to 6-1.

A sacrifice fly by Blake Murphy gave the Catamounts a 1-0 lead in the second and then in the third, a two-out, two-run double by Steve Strausbaugh off of freshman Alex McRee made it 3-0. Second baseman Kenny Smith connected for his team-leading 14th home run to start the bottom of the fourth for a 4-0 lead.

Georgia took advantage of a pair of errors by third baseman by Nick Liles to tie the contest in the fifth, scoring four runs on four hits. With one out and the bases loaded, junior third baseman Ryan Peisel delivered a two-run single to cut the deficit in half. Senior Jonathan Wyatt reached on a walk to load the bases again, chasing WCU starter Tyler Johnson. Chris Masters came on and got Gordon Beckham to pop out for the second out. Then, Rich Poythress grounded one to third that Liles couldn't handle, allowing a run to score. Junior Matt Olson tied the game with a run-scoring single to left and Wyatt tried to score too but was called out on a close play at the plate.

The Catamounts answered by retaking the lead in their half of the fifth, scoring two runs on two hits and an error by shortstop Gordon Beckham. Smith's RBI-double off of freshman Steve Esmonde made it 5-4 and another sacrifice fly by Murphy pushed the lead back to two at 6-4.

Neither starter figured in the decision. McRee gave up four runs on five hits with three walks and six strikeouts in 3.2 innings. Johnson surrendered four runs (only one earned) on four hits with three walks and six strikeouts before leaving with one out in the fifth.

Georgia continues its five-game road trip Friday in Lexington, Ky., with the start of a Southeastern Conference series with Kentucky (27-12-1, 7-10-1). First pitch will be at 6:30 p.m.

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