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Late inning heroics lift Georgia to regional win over rival

Palmber-Thombsby:Palmer Thombs06/02/24


ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia Baseball is on to the Super Regionals, and it’s a story that should sound familiar. Beating in-state rival Georgia Tech on Sunday night 8-6, a third win over the Yellow Jackets this season, the Bulldogs move on to play NC State. It wasn’t without drama though.

Georgia jumped ahead early, acting as the road team due to NCAA Tournament protocol. After Corey Collins and Charlie Condon each reached on the first pitch they saw, Dylan Goldstein put the Bulldogs on the board with a single to right. The Dawgs would add another with Condon crossing home on a Slate Alford fielder’s choice to make it 2-0 before Tech even came to bat.

Georgia Tech freshman phenom Drew Burress responded to get one back for the Yellow Jackets. He tripled with a hard hit ball down the left field line and scored easily on a single by Matthew Ellis. That cut the UGA lead to just one. Then, after Georgia went down in order in the second, Tech took the lead thanks to a three-run home run from Vahn Lackey.

An error in left field by Clayton Chadwick cost Georgia a run and made it 5-2 Tech by the time the Bulldogs hit again in the third, an inning that ended quickly after a double play and a soft ground out.

Georgia starting pitcher Zach Harris seemed to settle in some after a shaky second inning. He sat the Yellow Jackets down in order in the third and faced four in the fourth. Through four innings of work, he had struck out five.

In the fifth, the Bulldogs managed to add one to their count. Chadwick led off the inning with a single up the middle and later scored on a single to center by Condon. That brought on a pitching change for the Yellow Jackets as Ben King entered with runners at first and second and just one out. He would get a pair of fly outs from Goldstein and Tre Phelps with an Alford walk in between to escape without further damage.

The sixth inning was scoreless for both teams, but eventful. It ended with Burress getting too aggressive on a two-out single to left, trying to go first to third. After the ball was fielded by Chadwick, he threw in to Kolby Branch at shortstop with Burress off the bag a good bit. Branch would throw to third where Burress was tagged out by Condon, upheld after review.

Georgia threatened in the seventh with two on and just one out. The Bulldogs got nothing out of it though but a Tech pitching change. Logan McGuire entered for King, and despite a walk to Condon, he managed to get out of the inning unscathed. Then, in the bottom half of the inning, UGA went to its own bullpen for right-hander Daniel Padysak. Harris finished with 6.0 innings, 109 pitches and six strikeouts – all three of which were career-highs.

After a leadoff walk, Padysak struck out three straight for another inning without Tech getting on the board. Georgia responded with a leadoff home run from Phelps to make it a one-run game but couldn’t add another to tie things up.

Another shutdown inning from Padysak on the mound allowed brought Georgia to the plate with the opportunity to tie things up in the ninth. Branch did just that with UGA’s second straight inning leadoff home run deep over the trees in left field.

Despite having the go-ahead run aboard, Georgia could not take the lead. That left Tech with an opportunity to walk things off in the bottom of the ninth.

Charlie Goldstein returned to the mound for the first time in almost a month, but his appearance was brief. He exited with yet another arm injury after walking the leadoff batter, giving way to Matthew Hoskins. Hoskins, while recording a pair of outs did walk two to load the bases. That brought on a third pitching change of the inning, this time for Chandler Marsh out of the bullpen to face Payton Green.

Green ran the count to 3-2, and while Georgia didn’t quite cleanly perform the PFP, Marsh made the game-saving out at first base from Collins to send the region final to extra innings.

Chaos ensued in the top half of the tenth. Georgia put its first two runners on base thanks to a hit by pitch and a single from Phelps and Paul Toetz. Fernando Gonzalez put down a sacrifice bunt, but Tech’s third baseman threw it away, allowing Phelps to score from second.

The Dawgs weren’t done though. Collins would clear the bases with a two-run double to right center, putting UGA ahead 8-5.

After a single and a walk, Georgia’s usual Friday night starter Leighton Finley entered on just two day’s rest. He threw 81 pitches in 3.2 innings in the opener of UGA’s NCAA Tournament against Army but returned to make his first appearance out of the bullpen this season.

Facing the top of the order, Finley allowed a leadoff single to load the bases. He would strike out Burress and record a sacrifice fly out to right for the first and second outs. Then, a grounder to third fielded by Condon and thrown to Collins at first ended things.

Georgia’s win sends the Bulldogs to the Super Regionals for the first time since 2008. They would go on to make the College World Series with a 2-1 series victory over NC State. Just like 2008, UGA’s Athens Regional clincher came against Georgia Tech and the Dawgs will host the Wolfpack next weekend. Dates for the three-game set will be announced at later date.

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