June 2, 2008


Montgomery tosses four-hit shutout as Georgia tops Tech


By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder


ATHENS, Ga. – Mo


It is short for momentum, which is not talked about as much for baseball as in football or basketball, but was definitely evident Sunday night.


It is also short for Montgomery, as in Georgia senior right-hander Nick Montgomery, who pitched the best game of his collegiate career as the top-seeded Bulldogs blanked No. 2 Georgia Tech 8-0 at Foley Field to force a winner-take-all match-up on Monday at 7 p.m. for the Athens Regional title.


Montgomery (3-2) went the distance for the first time as a Yellow Jacket, allowing four hits, all singles, with one walk and a career-high nine strikeouts. He retired 17 consecutive batters from the third to the ninth innings, sandwiched by singles off the bat of Charlie Blackmon.


"I felt comfortable," Montgomery said. "I was able to control all my pitches. I could get my sink going and my changeup, I could get ahead with my fastball, and my curveball I could throw for a strike. They got me a few runs and kept telling me they had my back over and over again. I knew that they were there, so I kept attacking them and things worked out."


The Yellow Jackets had seen enough of Montgomery.


"There’s not much for me to say," said Tech head coach Danny Hall. "I just hope Nick Montgomery can’t pitch tomorrow. He’s pitched against us twice and we haven’t been able to do anything with him. Give him a lot of credit, pitched nine innings and threw a shutout in a big game. Give him all the credit in the world.


Georgia Tech (41-20) missed a scoring opportunity in the top of the third. Tommy Nichols led off with a single and, with one away, was caught stealing as Gordon Beckham made caught a bad throw from the catcher on the first-base side of the bag and made a great tag for the out. Patrick Long drew a two-out walk and moved to second on a base hit by Charlie Blackmon. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch, but Nick Montgomery got a strikeout to end the threat.


The Bulldogs (38-22-1) carried that momentum into the bottom of the frame. Ryan Peisel hit a one-out triple off the wall just out of the reach of right-fielder Luke Murton. Matt Olson followed with a home run to right center, his eighth, to put Georgia on top 2-0.


“It was huge,” said Georgia head coach Dave Perno of the momentum swing. “I thought that set the tempo, let him relax, go out there and pitch with a lead. He really knows how to defend the scoreboard. I thought that was huge, him pitching out of that jam, I think we got (Jeff) Rowland out on a strikeout, and us scoring. I thought that set the tempo right there.”


After Bulldog singles by Bryce Massanari, Matt Cerione and Lyle Allen loaded the bases in the fourth, Eddie Burns walked David Thoms to force in a run and push Georgia’s lead to 3-0.


The Bulldogs put together a two-out rally in the fifth as Massanari singled to right and Cerione lined a homer just over the wall in left for a 5-0 lead.


After a one-out single by Beckham in the seventh, Rich Poythress hit his second two-run homer of the day and his 14th dinger of the season. With two outs, Cerione singled, stole second and scored on a base hit by Robbie O’Bryan to make it an 8-0 contest.


"I thought we played great today, all day," Perno said. "We played really close to our identity which we did all year: great defense, great pitching, quality at-bats and got the power going. That was what we needed to do."


Montgomery recorded the first complete game for the Bulldogs this season. It was the second shutout for Georgia, as it blanked South Carolina at home 1-0 on April 5 in the opener of their SEC series.


Cerione went 3 for 4 with two runs and two RBI. Olson was 2 for 4 with a run and two RBI. For the Sunday doubleheader, Olson was 7 for 10 with five runs and three RBI.


"One of the main things is I know this is my last shot at playing college baseball, maybe baseball period," Olson said. "I’ve been trying to do everything I can to help out. I made a few adjustments this week. I got in the cage and worked hard making adjustments and I think that’s helped out a lot."


Georgia is 14-0 in NCAA Tournament elimination games at Foley Field.


The Yellow Jackets captured two of the three regular-season meetings, winning 9-4 at Georgia Tech and 11-1 in Athens before the Bulldogs took a 3-2 decision at Turner Field.