June 24, 2008


Beckham's Bomb Buoys Bulldogs of Georgia

SEC Champs are one win away from national title

Blast It Like Beckham

By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder


OMAHA, Neb. – “When we need it the most.”


That’s what Georgia junior shortstop Gordon Beckham told head coach David Perno when asked when he would hit his next home run to give him the school’s career record of 52.


That dinger was a two-run shot that ignited a four-run eighth as No. 8 Georgia nipped Fresno State 7-6 Monday in Game 1 of the Championship Series of the 2008 College World Series in front of 19,559 fans at Rosenblatt Stadium.


Game 2 of the best-of-three series will take place on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.


“It was pretty good,” Beckham said. “It jump-started us. We won the game after that. That just got us going a little bit.”


After Fresno State (45-31) snapped a 3-3 tie with three in the top of the eighth, Matt Olson singled to start the bottom of the frame. FS closer Brandon Burke came in and Beckham hit his second pitch into the left field stands to pull Georgia (45-23-1) to within one. It was his 27th homer this season, also a school record.


“He’s a special player,” Perno said of Beckham. “He commented, a couple guys were on him pretty good about ‘When are you going to hit another home run?’ He said ‘When we need it the most’ and we needed it tonight.


Rich Poythress drew a walk after Beckham’s home run and scored on a one-out double by Matt Cerione to tie the game at 6-6. Joey Lewis followed with a double off the second base bag to give Georgia the lead at 7-6.


After surrendering four runs on Saturday to Stanford, Georgia closer Joshua Fields came on and worked a perfect ninth to record his 18th save.


“It was a great college baseball game,” Perno said. “I think that’s what you expect in the National Championship Series. Fortunately we have Gordon Beckham and Josh Fields in our dugout. In big games, your great players step up and they did a great job tonight.”


Georgia showed its aggressiveness early. In the bottom of the first, Ryan Peisel hit the first pitch into left and stretched a single into a double. Two outs later, Poythress had a base hit to left to plate Peisel with the game’s first run.


Fresno State answered in the third as Jordan Ribera hit the first pitch out to left for his fifth homer to even the score at 1-1. Muno, the next batter, hit a one-hopper off the right shin of pitcher Trevor Holder. He recovered to throw out Muno at first and took a seven-minute pain delay before retiring the final two batters to end the inning.


Georgia had a two-out rally in the fourth as Bryce Massanari had a single, Cerione walked and Joey Lewis had a base hit to right that brought in a sliding Massanari for a 2-1 lead.


Fresno State took its first lead in the fifth as Ryan Overland drew a leadoff walk and Steve Detwiler crushed his 10th home run to left to put the Californians on top 3-2.


Georgia tied it in the bottom of the sixth on Matt Cerione’s two-out RBI single.


Holder left after seven innings and allowed four hits and three earned runs. He walked three and struck out four.


The tie was snapped in the top of the eighth. Erik Wetzel led off with a walk and scored on a double by Steve Susdorf. Alan Ahmady lined out to shortstop Gordon Beckham, who tagged out Susdorf to complete the double play. After swinging and missing badly on two pitches, Tommy Mendonca belted his third home run of the CWS and his 18th on the season for a 5-3 advantage. Ryan Overland was hit by a pitch and Detwiler doubled him home to give Fresno State a 6-3 lead.


“That was a good college baseball game,” said Fresno State head coach Mike Batesole. “We gave a few at-bats away, but give them credit. What a job they did with two strikes. That’s usually our strength. We struck out one guy all night. You go back and look at all their big hits and except for Beckham’s home run, they were all with two strikes. Give them a lot of credit for battling.”


Beckham, Cerione and Lewis each had two hits and two RBI for Georgia. Poythress scored twice for the victors.


Detwiler had two hits and drove in three for Fresno State.