May 10, 2009


CBI Live
Cerione helps Georgia salvage finale against Vanderbilt


By Jimmy Jones

Special to 


ATHENS Georgia--Enough was enough for the Georgia Bulldogs. Mired in a nine-game losing streak and having disappointed two sellout crowds the previous two days, the Dawgs found a way to pull one out to salvage the final game of the series on a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth by Matt Cerione (left) to defeat Vanderbilt 4-3.


Cerione gave the Bulldogs (15-12 SEC, 34-17) their first lead of the weekend in the first inning with a solo opposite field home run, his eighth of the season.


Vandy (12-14, 31-21) came right back with a run in the second on a leadoff double by Curt Casali and an RBI single by Aaron Westlake to knot the score at 1-1.


Junior right-hander Drew Hayes walked Levi Hyams to lead off the third and then was called for a balk after he appeared to pick off the runner. David Thoms advanced Hyams on a ground ball but Hayes bore down to induce a grounder to a drawn-in infield for the second out and then retired Cerione on a two-hopper to Commodore second baseman Riley Reynolds to end the inning with no damage done.


Reynolds then did some damage with his bat when he hit a clutch base hit to drive in leftfielder Joe Loftus, who had singled with one out in the fifth. Brian Harris advanced Loftus into scoring position with an infield hit to set the stage for Reynolds.


The Bulldogs tried to answer in the bottom of the fifth when Thoms delivered the second Bulldog hit of the game off of Hayes (right) with two runners aboard to load the bases.


Commodore coach Tim Corbin called in his left-hand specialist Grayson Garvin and the big lefty paid instant dividends by striking out Lyle Allen and Cerione to put out the fire.


The see-saw affair continued as the Bulldogs’ Joey Lewis knotted the game at 2-2 with a solo shot in the seventh only to have the Dores retake the lead when Casali scored on a passed ball by Lewis in the eighth.


Designated hitter Bryce Massanari tied it up again with his 18th home run of the year off of Vanderbilt closer Russell Brewer to snap his 10-game scoreless streak going back eight appearances.


"This was a tough loss cause I thought we were in position to win the game and sweep the series," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. "At the same time, it was nice to come in and take two after last weekend and I liked the intensity we played with."


Hayes was outstanding in his 4.1 innings of work with four strikeouts and three walks. He allowed just two hits and did not figure in the decision for the Commodores.


Loftus, Andrew Giobbi and Brian Harris had two hits apiece for VU.


Dean Weaver (2-2) picked up the win with two innings of one-hit relief. Nick Christiani (5-4) allowed one run in a third of an inning on one hit to be credited with the tough luck loss.


The Bulldogs clinched a berth in the SEC Tournament with the win.


"This is a momentum win for a lot of reasons," Georgia coach David Perno said. "It got the monkey off our back and put us on the right foot again. This was huge for us. We've really been a good team all year and we can't let the last two weeks get us down. We've clinched postseason play and we need to carry this win on through Tuesday and next weekend."


Georgia takes to the road for its final series as it takes on South Carolina. Vanderbilt closes its season at home against the University of Tennessee (8-19, 22-29).


(photos courtesy of Jimmy Jones)