June 8, 2008

2008 Super Regionals

Wolfpack Bites Back

N.C. State, Georgia Play Rubber Game Sunday


By Tyler Estep
The Red & Black

Tyler Estep is a senior journalism student and the University of Georgia and a senior sportswriter/former sports editor at The Red & Black. He's one of the biggest Braves fans on the planet, and his dream job would be to cover them for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has no (successful) history of actually playing sports, but, hey, that's why he's a writer.

ATHENS, Ga. - Georgia will have a chance to improve its spotless Foley Field record in NCAA elimination games on Sunday after dropping the second game of its Super Regional with N.C. State Saturday 10-6.

Wolfpack pitching silenced the rolling Bulldogs bats, and a brief outing from starter Nathan Moreau made Sunday's "if necessary" game a very necessary rubber match to decide who will head to Omaha for the College World Series.

"I didn't think we played poorly yesterday," N.C. State coach Elliott Avent said. "The things that went bad went very bad for us, and the things that went good for them went very good. I think they were two similar games…we got the benefit of some things today, they got the benefit of some things yesterday."

Things appeared to start off on the right foot for "visiting" Georgia as third baseman Ryan Peisel led off the game with a solo shot to left center on just the second pitch. But N.C. State and centerfielder Marcus Jones countered with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the inning.

Jeremy Synan, Russell Wilson and Tommy Foschi followed suit in the third, all driving in runs on two-out singles, chasing Moreau after 2.2 innings and putting the Wolfpack (42-21) ahead for good.

The Bulldogs (40-23-1) pulled to within one on RBI hits from Joey Lewis and Gordon Beckham in the fourth and fifth, respectively, and with junior Stephen Dodson (the Bulldogs' Saturday starter during conference play) throwing 4.1 scoreless innings in relief, Georgia looked to be in a manageable situation.

But pulling Dodson to start the seventh (after just 48 pitches) would prove to be a crucial move for the Bulldogs and coach Dave Perno, as four walks led to four more Wolfpack runs.

"He was a little tired, and Stephen I think will admit that to you," Georgia coach Dave Perno said. "I would have liked to have kept him in there, but in that situation, he really laid it out there. Any time you come out in a situation like that, you can double your pitches because of every pressure-packed pitch. And coming in from the bullpen is not like a start."

After N.C. State third baseman Drew Martin walked to start the inning, leadoff man Dallas Poulk (2 for 4) slapped a bunt double over the head of Peisel. That set the stage for Ryan Pond's sac fly, three more walks (including walking two in) and an RBI double from Foschi.

"That [double] was a huge play for us," said N.C. State designated hitter Russell Wilson, who went 2 for 4 for a pair of RBI. "It was a real momentum carrier for us. A big-time play."

That was the first extra base hit for the Wolfpack, as 10 of its 12 hits were singles.

N.C. State starter Jake Buchanan largely silenced an offense that had scored 51 runs in its previous four games, going 5.1 and allowing what appeared to be all three Georgia runs until it struck for three more in the ninth.

The Bulldogs won four straight games on the brink of extinction during last weekend's Regional, extending their all-time record to 15-0 in NCAA elimination games at Foley Field. That has them feeling pretty comfortable going into Sunday's 4 p.m. game.

"We had our backs against the wall all last week, and we won four straight, so I'm pretty sure we can win one more to get to Omaha," said Beckham, UGA’s shortstop who was hit by pitches in his first two at-bats Saturday.

That said, Avent isn't buying into an advantage for the Bulldogs.


"That sounds like it covers a lot of years," Avent said. "We're only playing one team, we're playing guys that are on this Georgia team. I don't know how many of these guys have been around for that. The longer a streak goes, obviously the more chances it's going to be snapped."