Dawgs get vital win towards Baseball crown

NASHVILLE - After getting blanked for eight innings Saturday, eighth-ranked Georgia found a little ninth-inning magic and then defeated 16th-ranked Vanderbilt 4-2 in 10 innings at Hawkins Field.

Coming in Saturday, Georgia (32-17-1, 18-7-1 SEC) was 0-15 when trailing after eight innings. However, the Bulldogs tied the contest in the ninth with a pair of runs and then pushed across two more runs in the 10th for the victory over the Commodores (37-14, 15-10 SEC). Georgia now holds a three-game lead in the race for the Southeastern Conference title with four games to play. The Bulldogs are 2-2-1 in extra inning games this season, all coming in SEC action.

Vanderbilt jumped in front 2-0 in the fourth and the game remained that way until the ninth. Junior third baseman Pedro Alvarez led off the frame with his sixth home run of the season. Ryan Flaherty followed with a base hit, went to third on a flare single by Alex Feinberg and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Shea Robin. The Bulldogs threatened to score in the third, fourth and fifth innings but redshirt freshman Caleb Cotham pitched out of trouble each time and was aided by pickoff in the third as well. In the fifth, senior Ryan Peisel reached with a two-out single and senior Matt Olson drew a four-pitch walk to bring up junior shortstop Gordon Beckham. On a 3-2 offering, Beckham was called out on strikes.

Bulldog junior right-hander Stephen Dodson provided a strong start, going seven innings and allowing a pair of runs on five hits with one walk and two strikeouts. Georgia turned to sophomore left-hander Alex McRee to start the eighth. After allowing the first two Commodores to reach on a base hit and a walk, McRee battled back to retire Alvarez on a soft liner to Beckham and then got Flaherty to bounce into a double play. Cotham tossed seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits with three walks and seven strikeouts.

In the top of the ninth, Bryce Massanari led off with a base hit off Drew Hayes and Lyle Allen blooped a single. After retiring Robbie O'Bryan, pinch-hitter Joey Lewis lined a single to load the bases. Second baseman Miles Starr bounced a high-chopper to Alvarez at third who stepped on the bag and then an errant throw allowed pinch-runner Adam Fuller to score. Then with two outs, Peisel smacked game-tying run-scoring single up the middle to make it 2-2. Sophomore Dean Weaver pitched a scoreless ninth to send it into extra innings. Vanderbilt sent Russell Brewer in to start the tenth. Beckham greeted him with a single up the middle. Poythress executed a hit-and-run with a RBI-double off the wall in left to give the Bulldogs a 3-2 edge. A balk moved Poythress to third. After retiring Fuller, Allen delivered a sacrifice fly to bring Poythress home for a 4-2 lead.

In the bottom of the 10th, Georgia senior All-America closer Joshua Fields came in to close it out but not before a little more drama. He issued a four-pitch walk to the number nine hitter Brad French. Then he went 3-0 on David Macias before retiring him on a sliding catch by Matt Olson in shallow right field. Fields struck out Dominic de la Osa for the second out. Alvarez reached on a five-pitch walk to bring up Flaherty. Fields struck him out for his SEC-leading 14th save and extending his SEC career record tally to 37. Weaver notched the win to improve to 4-1 while Brewer dropped to 4-1.

"Our guys battled all day today, and they never gave up," said Georgia coach David Perno. "We stayed positive in our dugout, and we knew somehow we were going to win. Stephen (Dodson) was tremendous out there, the bullpen did a great job too, pitching out of some jams. We turned some double plays and got some key pinch-hitting. Rich (Poythress) got the big RBI hit off the wall, Ryan Peisel came through as did Bryce Massanari and Gordon Beckham. It was great day for us up and down the lineup, and I'm really proud of everybody for hanging in there and getting the job done."

The rubber game of the series will be at Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. Vanderbilt plans to start junior right-hander Nick Christiani (5-2, 3.64 ERA) while the Bulldogs will counter with junior left-hander Nathan Moreau (2-2, 4.81 ERA).

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