Georgia erased an early seven-run deficit to outlast Georgia Tech 14-13 in 11 innings Tuesday and win the season series in front of 3,003 at Russ Chandler Stadium.
The game lasted four hours and 26 minutes and featured Tech building a 7-0 lead by the third; Georgia tied it at 8-all in the seventh; the Bulldogs went ahead 13-8 in the eighth only to see Tech rally back to tie it in the bottom of that inning.
Redshirt freshman Mike Mancuso struck out five over the final 2.2 innings for his first win while sophomore Jared Walsh drove in a career-high four RBI. Walsh tied the game in the seventh and provided the lead in the eighth and 11th. Tech had the tying run at third with one out in the final frame and Mancuso battled to strike out the Yellow Jackets number two and three hitters in Brandon Thomas and Daniel Palka. Kyle Wren doubled with one out and stole third where he was stranded. This past weekend, Tech posted a pair of walk-off wins over second-ranked North Carolina but was denied another one Tuesday. Georgia improved to 19-31 and wins its first season series over Tech since 2007.
“This was a huge win, bigger than the 17-0 win at Turner Field this year because this won the series and it came on their field,” said Georgia coach David Perno. “We had a lot of guys contribute tonight and a tremendous job by Mike Mancuso as he handled the moment. He had his command and didn’t walk anybody. The guys that didn’t walk anybody were effective. He’s not a strikeout pitcher but he came up with some big wins tonight. Even after we got down by seven, the guys hung in there and battled and credit Tech for coming back to after we went up by five. That was a bizarre eighth inning, each team scored five runs.”
The Yellow Jackets (32-21) jumped in front 2-0 in the first on a two-out, two-run single by Sam Dove off Bulldog senior Bryan Benzor. Tech did more two-out damage in the second, scoring three runs on four hits, getting RBI from Kyle Wren, Daniel Palka and Zane Evans to build a 5-0 lead. After Tech put the first two on in the third, Georgia went to the bullpen in favor of sophomore Ross Ripple. With one out, catcher Mitch Earnest made it 7-0 with a two-run single.
Senior Curt Powell smacked a single to shallow right field with one out in the fourth for the first hit off Tech sophomore Josh Heddinger. Senior right fielder Brett DeLoach notched Georgia’s second hit of the night with a one-out single in the fifth. Then with two outs in the frame, freshman catcher Zack Bowers popped up near first base and Tech infielders lost it in the lights, and it fell for an RBI-single as DeLoach scored. Sophomore Justin Bryan followed with a base hit to bring up sophomore Nelson Ward. He worked the count full and then blasted his second home run of his career, a three-run shot to close the gap to 7-4. For Ward, it was his second round-tripper in four days after getting his first to lead off the South Carolina series last Friday in Columbia.
Ripple provided two scoreless innings and junior left-hander Patrick Boling started the fifth for the Bulldogs. Tech got a run back in the frame on a one-out double from Earnest to make it 8-4. In the sixth, sophomore Hunter Cole blasted his fourth home run of the season to pull the Bulldogs to within three at 8-5. Senior Kyle Farmer followed with a double and went to third on a fly-out by Jared Walsh. That ended Heddinger’s night as Tech went to right-hander Alex Cruz. DeLoach and Bowers brought the Bulldogs to within one with RBI-singles. Later, Georgia had the bases loaded with one out for Ward but Evans got him to bounce in to a double play to maintain Tech’s lead at 8-7. It marked only the third time this year that Ward hit in to a double play.
Georgia tied the game with a two-out double from Walsh in the seventh. Cole reached with a one out single, stole second, went to third on a Farmer fly-out to bring up Walsh. Georgia had erased an early 7-0 deficit. After a walk to DeLoach, Tech went to the bullpen for right-hander Cole Pitts. Posey drew his third walk of the night to load the bases but Pitts came back to strike out Bowers to keep it a tie game.
In the eighth, Georgia batted around, scoring five runs on three hits to take a 13-8 lead. Walsh provided the go-ahead hit, a two-out, two-run single. Posey followed with a bases-loaded walk and freshman pinch-hitter Daniel Nichols capped the outburst with a two-run single. Tech tied it in the bottom of the inning off sophomore Jarrett Brown, scoring five runs on one hit and a three-run error by Bryan when he slipped on a fly ball with two outs by Thomas Smith. In the 10th, Posey tied a school record by drawing his fifth walk, matching Brian Johnson who did it in 1995 against Georgia Southern.
In the 11th, Powell reached on a lead-off walk, went to second on a base hit by Cole and both moved in to scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Farmer. Then, Walsh stepped up and delivered a sacrifice fly for a 14-13 advantage.
The Bulldogs close out the regular season by playing host to Florida (28-25, 13-14 SEC) starting Thursday. First pitch at Foley Field will be at 7 p.m.
AAll photos copyrighted property of Sonny Kennedy, http://www.sonnykennedyphotography.com/