By TOM STAD
June 24, 2008
No. 8 Georgia 7, Fresno St. 6
UGA leads best-of-three series 1-0
At some point, mentioning the fact that there’s incredible drama going on in Omaha becomes redundant. We’re way past that point. Georgia and Fresno State opened the championship series in fine fashion last night with a game that saw two ties and four lead changes before Georgia outlasted Fresno State 7-6 to take a 1-0 series lead.
Georgia wasted no time getting on the board. Leadoff hitter Ryan Peisel ripped the first pitch from Fresno starter Sean Bonesteel to left for a double. Two outs later, first baseman Rich Poythress (1-for-3, 2 RBI, run) ran the count full before singling to left to score Peisel and give Georgia the 1-0 lead. Georgia ace Trevor Holder (8-4) went seven innings and held Fresno State to three runs on four hits, but unfortunately for him, two of those four hits left the yard. Freshman DH Jordan Ribera hit his second home run of the series to tie the game at one, and after Georgia took the lead back by a 2-1 score, Holder served up a two-run blast to Fresno State’s Steve Detwiler in the fifth. Georgia would tie the score again in the sixth when center fielder Matt Cerione (2-for-3, 2 RBI, run) singled up the middle off Fresno’s fourth pitcher of the day, senior Jason Breckley (2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER). That would set the stage for some late-inning fireworks and a roller coaster of emotions for both teams.
Fresno State second baseman Eric Wetzel drew a walk to open the top of the eighth and Steve Susdorf, a 19th round selection of the Phillies in this year’s amateur draft, took advantage, lacing an RBI double to the right-center field gap. Unfortunately for Fresno State, he was doubled off on an Alan Ahmady line drive to Gordon Beckham on the very next pitch. It was unfortunate because third baseman Tommy Mendonca followed with an opposite-field blast to give Fresno State a 5-3 lead. Two batters later, Detwiler doubled to make it 6-3, and it looked like the Cinderella season would continue.
However, these Georgia Bulldogs have come back twice already in this College World Series, and they weren’t about to quit now. After a Matt Olson single to open the inning, Mike Batesole went to his closer, Brandon Burke, to face the All-American, Beckham. Unfortunately for Batesole, Beckham was up to the task. He ripped a two-run shot to left to cut the deficit to 7-6, tying the school single-season record of 74 RBI in the process. Cerione was at it again two batters later, lacing one down the left field line. Poythress lumbered around from first to tie the score when the relay - which had a chance to beat him - hit him square in the back. DH Joey Lewis then smacked a ground ball up the middle to score Cerione with the eventual game-winning run. Georgia closer Josh Fields came on to record his 18th save of the year. Georgia now leads the series 1-0 and can clinch the national championship with a win tonight. Fresno State must win to force a third and deciding game tomorrow night.