Cerione helps Georgia
salvage finale against Vanderbilt
By Jimmy Jones
Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com
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
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
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.
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
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
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)