After struggling to put up big numbers on the scoreboard, especially compared to their performance in the Athens Regional and Athens Super Regional, the Georgia Bulldogs (44-23-1) found their offensive firepower and beat Stanford 10 – 8 on Saturday. The win puts Georgia in the national championship series beginning on Monday.
"We just could not stop them," Stanford head coach Mark Marquess. "They're just a better team than we are, and I want to congratulate coach Perno and his staff."
The Dawgs jumped out early on the Cardinal (41-24-2) and never looked back, putting one run on the board in the 2nd inning and following that up with three runs in the 3rd and two more in the 4th for an early 6-1 lead going into the bottom of the 4th.
Georgia put 9 runs on the board by the end of the 5th, and effectively cruised the rest of the way, at least until the 9th, tacking on an additional run in the 8th to give them 10 total for the game.
"For us, today was just about getting our offense going. Getting some clutch hits early," said Georgia head coach David Perno.
Leading 10-4 going into the 9th, usually reliable Joshua Fields was apparently determined to make sure the game had drama just as Georgia's previous wins had, as he allowed four runs, including a three-run home run that was crushed into the left field bleachers.
Perno said that for some reason Fields seems to not pitch as well when the game is not a save situation, but noted that he hasn't lost a game in this type of situation either.
"He needed to throw. He needed to get out there," Perno said
The early offensive output stands in stark contrast to previous games against Miami and Stanford, when every run scored was hard fought. On Saturday it seemed likely that Georgia could score at will, which was extremely valuable as its opponent eventually put eight runs of its own on the board.
"I was shocked that we swung the bats as well as we did against (Stanford starter Jeremy) Bleich with four days off. I thought the key was Joey Lewis early breaking us through," Perno said.
With two outs, Lewis, who went 2 for 5, drove in the first run of the game to give Georgia an early 1-0 lead. He later drove home two more, also with two outs.
Rich Poythress also had an outstanding day at the plate for Georgia, going 4 for 5 with three doubles, which tied a College World Series record, and four RBI.
"I haven't swung the bat this well so far. It was just one of those things where I got some good pitches to hit," Poythress said.
Starter Nathan Moreau only went 2.1 innings, but was backed up with extremely effective relief pitching from Dean Weaver, Alex McRee and Joshua Fields, who closed out the 9th. Weaver got the win.
"They did a great job pitching," said Cardinal catcher Jason Castro. "Both their right handers and their left handers that they threw today did a great job executing their pitches when they needed to."
Georgia's coach was equally effusive with praise for his bullpen.
"Weaver and McRee were tremendous. Our bullpen was phenomenal," Perno said.
He also noted that when Moreau started to struggle, he didn't have any second thoughts about going to the pen.
"It's who we are," he said. "We had a streak in league play where we went 40 innings and our bullpen didn't give up an earned run."
Georgia will play either Fresno State or North Carolina on Monday at 7 pm EST in the first game of a three-game series to determine college baseball's national champion. Trevor Holder will start for the Dawgs.