The Trojans (10-8) erased an early six-run deficit as the Bulldogs fall to 7-2.
Junior first baseman Josh Morris gave the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead in the first when he launched a three-run home run off Tommy Milone. Kyle Keen led off the game with a base hit and with one out, Joey Side reached on an error by second baseman Blake Sharpe. On a 2-1 offering, Morris connected for his team-leading third home run of the season.
The Trojans came right back in the first. Blake Sharpe drew a leadoff walk and scored after a triple by Matt Cusick. Cyle Hankerd followed with a run-scoring single to pull USC back to within one at 3-2. The Trojans had a chance for more. With runners at the corners and one out, the Bulldogs turned a double play to maintain their edge.
In the second, Georgia’s offense went right back to work as third baseman Ryan Peisel smacked a double down the right field line, and he scored on a base hit by designated hitter Matt Robbins. Then with two outs, freshman shortstop Gordon Beckham made it 6-2 with a two-run opposite field home run. It was the second career home run for Beckham.
In the third, Georgia continued to extend its lead, scoring a pair of two-out runs on three hits. Bobby Felmy lined a one out double to the gap in left center and later Peisel and Robbins came through with run-scoring singles to make it 8-2 and ending USC starter Tommy Milone’s day. He allowed eight runs on nine hits in three innings.
The Trojans made it a two-run contest when they rallied for four runs on five hits and chasing Bulldog starter Rip Warren. USC got four straight hits to start the bottom of the fourth to pull within 8-4. Then Darin Vieira was hit by a pitch to load the bases. After allowing a run-scoring single to Sharpe, Warren was lifted in favor of freshman Jason Leaver. He inherited a bases-loaded situation and the Trojans got just one more run before the inning came to an end with Georgia leading just 8-6. On the day, Leaver allowed six runs but only one was earned on four hits in 1.2 innings.
In the fifth, the Trojans caught up and passed the Bulldogs with a six-spot to take their first lead at 12-8. With one out, Josh Fogel reached on an error by Peisel and first baseman Lucas Duda tied it up with a two-run shot over the fence in right field making it 8-8. The Trojans weren’t finished. Leaver struck out Hector Estrella for the second out. However, Vieira kept the inning going with a base hit and then Sharpe was hit by a pitch. Matt Cusick followed with a bloop two-run double that gave USC a 10-8 lead. Left fielder Cyle Hankerd launched a two-run home run for a 12-8 edge. At that point, Georgia turned to redshirt freshman Stephen Dodson who struck out Frost to end the frame. Dodson was the most effective Bulldog pitcher Saturday as he tossed 3.1 scoreless innings for the best outing of his career.
With two outs in the sixth, the Bulldogs responded as Matthew Dunn singled and Kyle Keen connected for his first home run in two seasons to pull Georgia back within two at 12-10. It was Keen’s first home run since the 2004 NCAA Regional win over Middle Tennessee State. A sacrifice fly by Jacobs in the seventh cut the margin down to one at 12-11 which ended up being the final.
“We had them on the ropes early, had a big lead, and it was disappointing to let this one get away,” said Georgia coach David Perno. “To be a good team and play a long time and compete in our league, we have to be able to protect leads. We needed to get more out of Rip Warren, a senior, we had some momentum and gave him a big lead. It didn’t happen. On the positive side, I thought Jason (Leaver) did a good job, he threw strikes and Stephen Dodson had his best outing of the season.
“It was good to see our offense have a big day, we got some home runs, and hopefully we won’t lose any more games when we hit three home runs,” Perno added. “They weren’t solo shots and we haven’t hit that many prior to the game today, and that was a positive.”
Shawn Olsen got the win to improve to 2-1 while Leaver fell to 1-1. Paul Koss pitched a scoreless ninth to pickup his second save.
Up next, Georgia returns to action Tuesday when it plays host to Wofford. First pitch at Foley Field is slated for 5:30 p.m. It will mark the beginning of a season-long nine-game homestand for the Bulldogs as Louisville, Kennesaw State, Western Carolina and Alabama come to Athens.