Dawgs come back to knock off ETSU

ATHENS - Seventh-ranked Georgia rallied back from a seven-run deficit to defeat East Tennessee State 9-8 Tuesday at Foley Field as Gordon Beckham scored the winning run on a two-out, walk-off wild pitch.

The Bulldogs (24-12) trailed 8-1 going to the bottom of the sixth inning before scoring eight unanswered runs over the final four innings to beat the Bucs (9-27). Beckham (3-for-5, 3R, 1 RBI) led off the bottom of the ninth with a base hit and then recorded his team-leading 11th stolen base. ETSU reliever Ben Andrews retired Rich Poythress (2-for-3, 2 RBI), and on Bryce Massanari's flyout, Beckham advanced to third. After an intentional walk to Lyle Allen (2-for-3, 2 RBI), Georgia sent up pinch-hitter Robbie O'Bryan. On a 1-2 offering, Andrews' pitch bounced to the backstop and Beckham raced home for the victory.

Georgia sophomore Steve Esmonde tossed three scoreless innings to improve to 2-0 while Andrew got the loss to fall to 2-3. Esmonde now has pitched eight scoreless innings over his last two outings. Bulldog head coach David Perno said he was pleased about the comeback.

"We didn't play very well early in the game, but I was proud of how we hung in there and battled back," said Perno. "We had some tough early innings, but our hitters came through, and it was great to see Steve (Esmonde) shut them down the last few innings. That was big and allowed us to start our comeback and ultimately get the win."

ETSU took advantage of a pair of Bulldog errors to grab a 3-0 advantage in the first off junior right-hander Stephen Brock. Right fielder Derek Trent collected his ninth home run of the year, a two-out, three-run shot over the scoreboard in right field. In the second, ETSU chased Brock following a two-run home run from shortstop Chris Rankhorn, the first of his career, to build a 5-0 lead. At that point, the Bulldogs turned it over to junior left-hander Stephen Ochs. The Bulldogs got on the scoreboard in the second when Rich Poythress led off with a double and scored following a throwing error by ETSU pitcher Matt McGahey on an infield single by Lyle Allen. The Buccaneers notched their third home run of the game in the fourth inning as Anthony Russell's two-run blast off Ochs made it 7-1. For Russell, it was his team-leading 15th home run.

In the top of the sixth, Jacob Fabry greeted junior right-hander Will Harvil with a double and he would eventually score on a two-out, infield single by Danny Petro to make it 8-1. In the bottom of the frame, Georgia cut the deficit to four by scoring three runs on two hits and chasing Matt McGahey. Beckham lined a run-scoring single and Allen delivered a two-run single to cap the scoring. Georgia had a chance for more but Dustin Plumlee came on with the bases loaded and retired Matt Cerione and pinch-hitter Matt Olson on shallow flyouts.

McGahey gave the Bucs five innings, surrendering three runs on two hits with three walks and three strikeouts. Georgia closed the gap to 8-6 in the seventh, scoring a pair of runs off Plumlee. With one out, Michael Demperio started the rally with a base hit, Beckham followed with a double and Poythress's two-run double made it a two-run deficit. Esmonde, the fourth Bulldog pitcher on the night, came on in the seventh and blanked the Bucs the rest of the way.

Georgia finally caught ETSU in the eighth, scoring a pair of runs on two hits and an error. Cerione's fielder's choice with runners at the corners made it a one-run contest. Then, Olson's base hit to right got past Trent and rolled to the wall, allowing Cerrione to score the tying run. Chas Byrne came in for ETSU and kept it a tie game.

Georgia will be back in action Wednesday at Foley Field when it plays host to Georgia State (18-15) at 5 p.m.

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