Fields stars in Dawgs win over #1 Arizona

ATHENS - Senior Joshua Fields collected two hits including a home run and then struck out the side in the ninth for a save as Georgia defeated top-ranked Arizona 9-7 in the season opener.

The Bulldogs (1-0) jumped on Arizona ace Preston Guilmet with four runs in the first and built a 6-2 lead by the third. However, the Wildcats (0-1) closed the gap to 6-5, scoring three runs in the fourth frame off Bulldog starter Trevor Holder.

Guilmet was lifted after four innings, marking his shortest stint in two seasons but his defense let him down at times. He got the loss, allowing eight runs but only four were earned with three walks and three strikeouts. Holder earned the win, going five innings and scattering five runs (three earned) on six hits with two walk and four strikeouts.

In the fifth, Georgia took an 8-5 lead. After back-to-back walks to Rich Poythress and Matt Olson, Fields put down a bunt and reached safely for his first hit as a designated hitter this season. Sophomore catcher Joey Lewis (1-for-2, 3 RBI) earned an RBI with a bases-loaded walk and junior Adam Fuller picked one up on a fielder's choice.

In the seventh, the teams exchanged solo blasts. Arizona first baseman C.J. Ziegler connected for one off of Justin Earls while Fields smashed one off Daniel Schlereth for a 9-6 lead. The Wildcats pushed their final run across in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Jon Gaston (2-for-4, 2 RBI).

In the ninth, Fields touched 98 miles per hour plus showcased a sharp breaking ball in striking out the side following a leadoff walk to Ziegler.

"We just relaxed out there and had fun tonight," said Fields. "We didn't want to start out 0-6 like last year, we wanted to come out and get a W and we did. Everyone contributed and I was able to help so I'm excited about that.

Bulldog head coach David Perno said he was encouraged with the way his team performed in the opener.

"I was happy for the whole team and especially for Joshua," said Perno. "He made the decision to come back for his senior year, and it was a great opening night for him. I want the best for him because his heart is in the right place.

Fields was a second round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves last June and opted to return for his final year. Along with being a preseason All-America selection as a closer, Fields has added designated hitter duties this year. He hasn't hit since his freshman year when he collected 31 at bats. Tonight, Fields hit his second career home run. Also, Georgia senior Ryan Peisel collected three hits on the night including a solo home run in the second.

The series continues Saturday with first pitch slated for 2 p.m.

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