Dawgs beat South Carolina 6-4

COLUMBIA - Georgia defeated seventh-ranked South Carolina 6-4 Friday in front of a sellout crowd of 5,403 at Sarge Frye Field.

The Bulldogs (23-32, 11-18 SEC) notched their 11th win over a ranked opponent this year and snapped an 11-game losing streak in Columbia to the Gamecocks who dropped to 39-16 overall and 16-13 in the SEC. The Bulldogs won six of the seven meetings last year against the Gamecocks but had struggled here in Columbia since 1998. Junior Nathan Moreau (6-2) won his fourth straight start including three over ranked opponents and the Bulldog bullpen pitched four scoreless innings to preserve the victory. Georgia sophomore Gordon Beckham (3-5, 3 RBI) provided a key home run, a two-run shot in the fourth for a 5-3 lead.

Georgia looked to get out to a fast start in the first but managed only one run despite loading the bases with nobody out. Junior Ryan Peisel led off the game with a walk, went to second on a base hit by Jonathan Wyatt (4-for-5) and scored on a single by Beckham (3-5, 3 RBI). Rich Poythress drew a walk to load the bases. Then, USC ace Arik Hempy struck out Matt Olson, got Matt Robbins to pop out and struck out Joey Lewis. USC tied the contest in its half of the first, on a one-out, solo home run by third baseman James Darnell off of Moreau. It was his 18th blast of the year.

Georgia went right back after the Gamecocks in the second as Peisel added a two-run double for a 3-1 advantage. After a bunt single by Wyatt put runners at the corners with nobody out, Hempy shut down the Bulldogs the rest of the inning. He got Beckham to pop out and Poythress to bounce into a double play. The Gamecocks threatened in their half of the second, loading the bases with one out. However, Moreau did some nifty pitching of his own, striking out Reese Havens and USC home run leader Travis Jones. The Bulldogs missed a scoring opportunity in the third, putting runners at the corners with one out. However, Travis Parrott lined into a double play to keep it a 3-1 contest.

Georgia's lead was short-lived as the Gamecocks tied the contest in their half of the third when designated hitter Phil Disher connected for a two-run home run, his 14th of the season. The Gamecocks leads the nation in home runs, and Disher's shot was the 102nd for USC. In the fourth, Georgia played a little long-ball of its own. With two outs, Wyatt lined a single to left. Beckham followed with a two-run shot to put Georgia back in front 5-3. For Beckham, it was his team-leading 13th home run. Hempy, who entered the game with an SEC-best 1.14 ERA in league action, was lifted after the first two Bulldogs reached to start the fifth. He allowed six runs on eight hits with a career-high five walks and got the loss to fall to 5-2.

The Bulldogs added a run in the fifth on an RBI-groundout by Lewis but USC responded again with a home run, a solo shot from Justin Smoak, his 18th home run to make it a 6-4 game.

Freshman left-hander Justin Earls came on for Moreau to start the sixth. USC put two on with two outs before he retired Smoak. Earls tossed two innings, McDaniel got the first two outs of the eighth before turning it over to closer Joshua Fields with the bases loaded. Fields got Smoak to line out and then closed it out in the ninth for his seventh save.

"We didn't allow any big innings and that was big and Nathan Moreau competed well as did our bullpen with Justin Earls, Adam McDaniel and then Joshua Fields closing it out," said Georgia coach David Perno. "Our kids regrouped and played well and that says a lot with basically nothing to play for in terms of reaching the postseason. Nathan never gave up the lead, and we had so many chances to build a big lead for him. We've played better here in the second half of the year again, and I'm proud of how they have finished strong."

The series concludes Sunday with first pitch slated for 4:06 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised live on SEC-TV and Fox Sports Net South. Georgia will start sophomore right-hander Trevor Holder (2-3, 4.34 ERA) while the Gamecocks go with either freshman right-hander Blake Cooper (7-1, 3.48 ERA) or junior right-hander Harris Honeycutt (7-5, 3.79).


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