June 9, 2008
Dawgs' Bark Loud and Clear
Georgia reaches Omaha for third time in
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. - After
a nine-run first inning, it seemed Georgia's penchant for
dramatics would be rendered moot for the day, as the Bulldogs
coasted to a 17-8 win Sunday and clinched a berth in their third
College World Series in five years.
Things remained relatively quiet
for the next four innings, but bad blood in the sixth and some
fireworks in the seventh added that feel of suspense that has
typified Georgia baseball all season.
After N.C. State's Dallas Poulk
and Jeremy Synan homered in the sixth, Georgia (41-23-1)
followed suit. Shortstop Gordon Beckham led off with a solo shot
before catcher Joey Lewis hit his second pinch-hit homer of the
series, both coming off of N.C. State reliever Drew Taylor.
When Taylor hit Georgia's Lyle
Allen in the back with the very next pitch, there was an uproar
with an exchange of words, warnings to both dugouts and a chorus
of boos when Taylor was pulled from the game.
"It was blatant, it was obvious
he threw at him, and it put us in a tough situation," said
Georgia coach Dave Perno, who has been involved in all but one
of Georgia's six Omaha runs. "We were just counting outs at that
point, 12 outs, 12 outs till we go to Omaha, nine outs. And all
of a sudden he hits him, and he woke the bats back up."
"We put it on them after that,"
Beckham added, smiling.
Beckham's homer was his 25th
of the season, making him the fourth player in Bulldog history
to record 100 hits in a season and leaving him at 50 career
homers, one shy of the school record (first baseman Josh Morris
hit 51 from 2004-06).
He didn't wait long to hit his
Senior third baseman Ryan Peisel
led off the following inning with a home run, and after senior
Matt Olson singled, Beckham tied the school record with a
two-run shot. That made for the eighth overall pick's sixth
multi-homer game of the season and earned him a curtain call in
his final game at Foley Field.
"I was obviously thinking about
it with the first couple of healthy hacks I had," said Beckham,
a Golden Spikes finalist. "But with two strikes I was just
thinking don't strike out and make yourself look like an idiot."
It took three N.C. State pitchers
to retire the side in the first, with starter Eric Surkamp
failing to record an out and the Bulldogs sending 14 batters to
the plate. After a single, a hit batsman and two walks, two-RBI
hits from junior Bryce Massanari and freshman Lyle Allen set the
pace for the most runs Georgia has scored in an NCAA inning
since the 1990 World Series.
All eight of Georgia's hits in the inning were
singles, with Peisel singling and scoring twice in the frame.
Fresh off a complete-game shutout
of Georgia Tech in the Athens Regional, Georgia starter Nick
Montgomery extended his NCAA scoreless innings streak to 14
before Poulk and Synan's homers chased him after the sixth.
Montgomery, who wasn't a weekend
starter during the regular season, is now 4-2 on the season,
including 3-0 against the ACC. Working with a big lead, the
senior transfer from Young Harris (Ga.) said he definitely
altered his game plan.
"You definitely want to throw
more strikes and let them play behind you, and all
today…everyone was making plays," he said. "I really didn't have
to do much today except get it into their hands."
Perno (a player on Georgia's 1990
national championship team, an assistant on the 2001 team and
head coach in 2004, 2006) said that the '08 edition of
Omaha-bound Bulldogs is "without a doubt" the most balanced he's
His Bulldogs are now 8-4 against
the ACC this season, but Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent was less
than enthusiastic when asked how they compared with the
juggernauts of his league, including a possible first-game
matchup with Miami.
"I could say something, but
that's not fair," he said. "Georgia's a great baseball team,
they'll find out in maybe a week how they really compare."