Big Innings Lead Bulldogs Past Pack, 11-4

NC State jumped out early to a 2-0 lead, but Georgia used two big innings to pull away from the Wolfpack and take the first game the Athens Super Regional 11-4.

NC State jumped out early to a 2-0 lead, but Georgia used two big innings to pull away from the Wolfpack and take the first game the Athens Super Regional 11-4.

Georgia did a great job of capitalizing with runners on base, while NC State struggled hitting the baseball in similar situations.

The Wolfpack jumped on Bulldog starter Trevor Holder in the opening innning with back-to-back singles from Ryan Pond and Jeremy Synan. However, Matt Payne promptly grounded into a double play, ending the inning and a potential scoring chance for his team.

NC State starter Clayton Shunick cruised through the first couple of innings. An All-ACC selection, Shunick entered as one of the top starting pitchers in college baseball, and he didn't disappoint early. The Wolfpack gave him some run support in the third inning, as Drew Martin and Ryan Pond each drilled solo homers to give State a 2-0 advantage.

In the bottom half of the third, Georgia would get to Shunick. The junior righthander started the inning by walking Robbie O'Bryan, the No. 7 hitter. After O'Bryan advanced to second on a Shunick wildpitch, Lyle Allen singled to leftfield. O'Bryan moved to third and Georgia had runners on the corners with no outs.

Shunick battled as you would expect him to do. He struck out David Thoms and Ryan Peisel, but couldn't get completely out of the jam as No. 2 hitter Matt Olson singled to left, scoring O'Bryan. Next up for Georgia was All-American shortstop Gordon Beckham, who promptly drilled a double to left center that plated Allen and Olson to give the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead. Shunick left a splitter up in the zone and Beckham crushed it. Cleanup hitter Rich Poythress kept the hot bats going with another single to left that scored Beckham and before Shunick could get the final out the Bulldogs led 4-2 after three innings.

After settling down in the fourth and fifth innings, Georgia once again got to Shunick in the sixth. Another leadoff walk began the rally, as Shunick walked Poythress. Bryce Massanari followed the walk with a single through the right side and Poythress, who was running on the pitch, advanced to third. Pack rightfielder Matt Payne tried to throw out Poythress at third but his throw went into the Wolfpack dugout, scoring Poythress and moving Massanari to third.

Matt Cerione was up next for Georgia and doubled down the leftfield line, scoring Massanari. Two batters later Allen doubled down the rightfield line plating Cerione and ending Shunick's day.

The Wolfpack righthander pitched 5.1 innings and allowed eight earned runs on eight hits with six strikeouts.

NC State replaced Shunick with Drew Taylor, and he was rudely greeted by pinch hitter Joey Lewis. Lewis hit a 2-1 pitch deep over the leftfield wall, pushing Georgia's lead to 9-2 after six innings.

With another two runs in the eighth inning, that was more than enough run support for Holder. After three innings, NC State's offense had to feel confident as Holder had been leaving his pitches up in the zone and the Wolfpack batters all hit the ball hard the first couple of times through the lineup.

With much of the media attention on Shunick, many didn't talk about Holder, however he came in and stole the show. Holder made adjustments early and over the next six innings he completely shut down NC State's bats.

Over the final six innings, the Wolfpack could only muster three hits and two late runs off Georgia's junior righthander. He was one batter away from a complete game, but finished going 8.2 innings while allowing two earned runs on seven hits with five strikeouts.

The Pack loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth and scored two runs on errors by Beckham, but Justin Earls ended the game by getting Ryan Pond to fly out to right.

The 11-4 win leaves the Wolfpack a loss away from seeing its season end a series away from Omaha.

The two teams will take the field again tomorrow at noon, and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

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