Dawgs take series from State

STARKVILLE - Georgia shortstop Gordon Beckham hit his SEC-leading 15th home run in the top of the 10th and the Bulldog bullpen tossed 7.2 scoreless innings to beat Mississippi State 5-3 Sunday to win their third straight conference series.

A crowd of 6,426 at Polk-Dement Stadium saw a thriller as Georgia (15-10, 6-3 SEC) won its first extra inning game since 2006 after going 0-6 last season and 0-2 in extra innings this year. MSU (11-15, 2-7 SEC) won game one of the series Friday 3-2 in 10 innings. However like they did at Arkansas two weeks ago, Georgia rebounded from a game one loss to win the series with victories on Saturday and Sunday.

Georgia jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first courtesy of a couple of State errors, a wild pitch and then a run-scoring single by junior shortstop Gordon Beckham. However, MSU responded in the second inning to grab a 3-2 edge, collecting four hits off of Bulldog starter Nathan Moreau. Shortstop Russ Sneed's run-scoring single made it 2-1 and then Grant Hogue's two-out, two-run single put MSU ahead. With one on and one out in the third, Georgia lifted Moreau and handed the ball to senior Nick Montgomery. He quickly got the Bulldogs out of the third.

Georgia wasted a leadoff double by catcher Bryce Massanari in the fourth. Centerfielder Matt Cerione followed and popped up a bunt attempt, second baseman Michael Demperio flew out to right and then designated hitter David Thoms bounced out to third. Montgomery kept it a 3-2 contest, tossing 3.1 scoreless innings before Georgia looked to sophomore Dean Weaver for the final out of the sixth. With a runner at second, Weaver struck out Jet Butler. He pitched a scoreless seventh and then sophomore Alex McRee got the call for the Bulldogs with the game tied 3-3.

In the top of the seventh, Beckham led off with a base hit and with two outs notched his team-leading eighth stolen base. MSU brought in John Lalor against Massanari who smacked a run-scoring single to center to make it 3-3. MSU starter Ricky Bowen tossed 7.1 innings and allowed a pair of unearned runs with four walk and four strikeouts but got a no decision.

"We had a quick trigger on Nathan (Moreau) but we felt with a fresh bullpen, we'd be in good shape and they definitely came through," said Georgia coach David Perno. "We got some good two-strike hitting from Bryce Massanari and Gordon (Beckham) hit the big home run in the 10th to put us ahead and Joshua (Fields) closed it out like he has done his whole career."

In the 10th with one out, Beckham launched his 15th home run of the year and 40th of his career off MSU reliever John Lalor to put the Bulldogs back in front 4-3. Rich Poythress followed with a double and then with two outs, Massanari delivered a run-scoring single to make it 5-3. In the 10th, Fields came on notched his sixth save of the year and 29th of his career. McRee earned the win to move to 3-1 with two scoreless innings.

"We're right in it at 6-3 in the league, and now we had to take care of business at home," said Perno. "Today was a little bittersweet for us in the last time we'll play against Coach Polk and Mississippi State. We all thanked him for what he's done for college baseball, he's been great for the game and helped me a lot."

Polk announced Friday he would be retiring at the end of this season. Before Sunday's game when lineups were exchanged at home plate, the entire Bulldog team walked out and shook Polk's hand and praised him for what he's meant to SEC and college baseball.

Georgia will be back in action Tuesday when it plays host to Clemson. First pitch at Foley Field will be at 7:06 p.m., and the game will be televised live by CSS.

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