They made the most of it.
Georgia (41-23-1) used a 9 run 1st inning to end any hope of an North Carolina State (42-22) victory and assure a trip to Omaha before starter Nick Montgomery (4-2) even worked up a sweat – quite a feat considering the 100 plus temperatures.
Georgia head coach Dave Perno wanted this result on Saturday to avoid a potential momentum shift to his opponent, but he was encouraged by his team's late rally yesterday and hoped it would carry over into today. State's head coach Elliot Avent thought it wouldn't make any difference. In this opinion, as in the series outcome, Perno prevailed again.
"Yeah, their coach didn't think so, but I'm glad we did (finish strong yesterday). We had a good feeling. Everybody was very confident. There was a lot of calmness and focus from our guys. We were going to be tough to beat today. Especially at our home field," Perno said.
The Bulldogs sent fourteen men to the plate in the 1st, notching 9 hits and facing three different Wolfpack hurlers.
"(Starter) Eryk (McConnell) just wasn't getting ahead," said Wolfpack first baseman Pat Ferguson. "Like coach said, good hitters can do some damage when pitchers don't get ahead and don't throw strikes early."
"Some damage" was enough for Georgia to coast until the 6th inning, when State found some life in the batter's box and blasted two home runs, drawing the margin to a bit more manageable 9-3.
Georgia would respond.
Following Gordon Beckham's first home run of the afternoon, Joey Lewis came through with a pinch hit 2 run homer that cleared the cypresses beyond the left field fence. The next batter, Lyle Allen, was plunked square between the shoulder blades on the first pitch.
"I was a little disappointed in that. It was just unfortunate. It was blatant. It was obvious that he threw at him and you put us in a tough situation because our guys are going to back each other," Perno said.
"We were just counting outs at that point. I promise you. All of a sudden he hits him and that woke the bats back up."
In their next at bat, Georgia tacked on an additional 5 runs to increase the lead to 17 to 3, with home runs by Ryan Peisel, Beckham, and Bryce Massanari leading the charge.
"When you see a guy get hit like that. I think it just woke up a sleeping dog as coach would say," Massanari said. "But after they did that, we just wanted to pour it on them and let them know they had no shot."
The Wolfpack would get those 5 runs back over the course of their last two at-bats, but the final outcome was never in doubt – as it had been secured some thirty minutes into the game's beginning.
In Omaha the Dogs will face the winner of tonight's game between Arizona and Miami. While Georgia has played Arizona this year, it was at the season's outset and Perno said a tough task awaits his team no matter who it faces.
"Pick your poison," he said. "Whoever you play this time of the year, it's going to be a tough game."
Regardless, the Bulldogs will have a shot at finishing off an impressive spring season for Georgia athletics with a national championship in baseball. The team will learn tomorrow whether it plays its first game Saturday or Sunday in Omaha.
This is Georgia's third trip to Omaha in the last five seasons.
Beckham, a member of the 2006 College World Series squad, has just one thing in mind for his second trip to Nebraska.
"Obviously I want to go out there and win," Beckham said. "That's my goal."