Dawgs continue SEC winning streak

BATON ROUGE - Georgia won its 10th straight Southeastern Conference game with a thrilling 9-8 win over LSU Saturday before a crowd of 3,766 at Alex Box Stadium.

The Bulldogs, now 27-12 overall and leading the SEC at 14-3, got a four-hit game from sophomore Matt Cerione, two more blasts from the NCAA home run leader in Gordon Beckham and then survived a seven-run rally by LSU in the eighth inning. Beckham now has 19 home runs on the year, and the Bulldogs are on a seven-game winning streak while the Tigers fall to 23-16 (6-11 SEC). Georgia now has clinched only its second ever series here in Baton Rouge, the only other coming in 2000 (2-1).

Beckham launched his 18th round-tripper with two outs in the first for a 1-0 Bulldog lead. Georgia has outscored its opponents 54-19 in the first inning this season. In the fourth, the Bulldogs took advantage of a Tiger miscue to score an unearned run for a 2-0 advantage. Beckham led off the inning with a grounder to third baseman Michael Hollander that turned into a two-base error. He went to third on a flyout by Bryce Massanari and scored on a groundout by freshman Lyle Allen.

Georgia junior Stephen Dodson provided seven strong innings, marking his fourth straight SEC outing he did that but ended up with a no decision. He allowed just one unearned run on seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts. Sophomore left-hander Justin Earls came on for Dodson to start the eighth and never finished the inning, allowing seven runs on three hits with four walks and left with two outs in favor of sophomore Dean Weaver as the Tigers rallied back to tie the contest at 8-8.

With one out in the top of the ninth, Cerione reached on an infield single for his career-high fourth hit of the game. Sophomore Michael Demperio moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Then, senior Ryan Peisel lined a single headed to right field that was knocked down by Ryan Schimpf. The ball squirted just far enough away to allow Cerione to come flying home with the go-ahead run as Georgia reclaimed a 9-8 advantage.

"That was as good a performance from Matt (Cerione), going 4-for-4, he made two plays in the last inning against the wall, and hopefully that confidence will continue," said Georgia coach David Perno. "He ran the bases well, and of course, Gordon continued to do great things, and Dean came on and got it done for us. It went bad for Justin (Earls) but Dean and the guys picked him up and that's what you hope to see.

"We kept our poise, and that was the key," Perno added. "Stephen Dodson was excellent and the only time LSU scored it came on an error and the four walks there in the eighth. We're going to get better, we've always improved over the course of the season, and I see that happening again."

In the bottom of the ninth, Weaver retired the Tigers in order including a couple of nice running catches by Cerione in center. Weaver improved to 3-1 while Jared Bradford took the loss to fall to 6-4.

In the fifth, Georgia extended its lead to 5-0. With two outs, Matt Olson's grounder to first baseman Matt Clark was misplayed, allowing Cerione to score and extend the frame. Then, Beckham crushed his 19th home run, a two-run shot over the left field wall. It marked the fifth time this season that he has hit two home runs in a game and the sixth time in his career. In the sixth, Georgia added a run on three hits with Cerione notching his third single of the day and Demperio collecting an RBI. The Tigers opted to intentionally walk Beckham to load the bases and then retired Poythress on a groundout as the Bulldogs carried a 6-0 lead at that point. The Tigers got on the board in their half of the sixth. Hollander reached on a leadoff error by Peisel and went to third on a base hit by Blake Dean. With one out, DJ LeMahieu lined a run-scoring single to center to make it 6-2. Then, Dodson got a nifty inning-ending double play by second baseman Michael Demperio to send it to the seventh. Georgia carried an 8-1 lead to the bottom of the eighth before the Tigers came storming back, tying the game on a three-run triple by Hollander.

The series concludes Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. The Bulldogs will start junior left-hander Nathan Moreau (1-1, 4.03 ERA) while the Tigers have not announced a starter. A replay of Sunday's game will be available on CSS at 9 p.m. ET.

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