Dawgs one win away from national title

OMAHA, NE – Think there would no be drama? Unlikely heroes? Big time players making big time plays?

Then you obviously haven't been following the College World Series, or the Georgia Bulldogs, or the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2008 College World Series.

"It was just a great college baseball game. I think that's what you expect in the national championship series," said Georgia head coach David Perno.

What you might not have expected was the Georgia offense to struggle against a depleted Fresno State pitching staff for most of the game – until the 8th inning that is. That's when everything seemed to catch up with the other Bulldogs.

With Georgia trailing 6-3 going into the bottom of the 8th, it seemed likely that the Dawgs were not going to get a chance at taking the lead in the best-of-three series. Their anemic offensive performance was glaring.

But that wasn't how All-American shortstop Gordon Beckham saw it. He knew there was still time to change things.

Beckham - who'd been catching from grief from his teammates for not hitting any home runs in Omaha as he needed just one to set the career record at Georgia - told his coach that the home run would come when the team needed it.

Quite the fortune teller that Gordon Beckham.

"I just said I'm going to hit it when we need it the most," he said. "Tonight was a pretty good time to do it."

His two-run homer, blasted well into the left field bleachers, pulled Georgia to within one at 6-5. And while the reaction on the field made it seem like a walk off, Georgia still had more work to do to pull out the victory.

"It jump started us," Beckham said. "Obviously we won the game after that. That just got us going a little bit."

That little bit was all that was needed as a Rich Poythress' walk set the stage for Matt Cerione's redemption - an RBI double down the left field line that scored Poythress all the way from first to tie the game. It was the second RBI of the day for Cerione, who went 2 for 3 with 2 RBI following a 5-strikeout outing in his last game.

"I think that's where you really find out about people. Not when things are going well, but when things go tough. I think that's when your character is revealed," Perno said.

With Cerione's double tying the game at 6, it was up to another player at the bottom of the lineup to provide the margin of victory.

Joey Lewis, who had three two-out RBI against Stanford on Saturday, drove a ball off of second base for a double with the infield drawn in, that was enough to score Cerione and give Georgia seven runs on the night.

"Joey's been doing a good job for us about a month now . He's been a huge boost down at the bottom. I'm very excited for him and Matt tonight," Perno said.

The one-run margin was enough for Joshua Fields, who retired Fresno State's 1-2-3 hitters in order to end the game and put Georgia just one win shy of the school's second ever national title in baseball.

"Fortunately we have Gordon Beckham and Josh Fields in our dugout. In big games your great players step up," Perno said.

Fields, who gave up four earned runs in a tumultuous last outing against Stanford on Saturday, said he had been thinking too much lately and just wanted to get back to the basics.

"I just tried to cut it loose and not try to be too fine. For some reason of late I've started to think a little bit on the mound and tonight I just tried to get back to what I knew was working," he said.

Georgia will throw senior Nick Montgomery, who has emerged over the latter half of the season as a crafty, clutch veteran hurler for the Dawgs.

First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN.


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