Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cone Beaned, Dawgs Win


With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Georgia’s Zach Cone was hit by a pitch that scored Peter Verdin and lifted the Dawgs to a series-clinching 6-5 win over No. 14 Arkansas Sunday at Foley Field.

The improbable finish capped a three-run ninth-inning rally for the Dawgs (24-21, 13-8 SEC), who won their sixth SEC series of the year. Arkansas fell to 29-13 and 10-11 in the SEC. Georgia won its SEC-leading 13th game against a top 25 opponent.

“Of all the great things we’ve done this year, we haven’t won like that so it was exciting,” Georgia head coach David Perno said. “To get a good inning in the ninth was huge.”

The Razorbacks had erased a one-run deficit in the eighth inning with a two-run double, then added an unearned run in the ninth to take a 5-3 lead.

The Georgia rally started with a double by designated hitter Brett DeLoach, then pinch-hitter Chase Davidson was hit by a pitch, followed by a sacrifice bunt by Conor Welton to put runners at second and third. Verdin then singled to tie the score at 5-5 off Arkansas closer Nolan Sanburn and advanced to second on the throw. A strikeout was sandwiched between a pair of walks to Levi Hyams and Kyle Farmer, and Zach Cone was hit on the first pitch from Sanburn (2-3).

Junior Tyler Maloof (1-0) picked up the win for Georgia by allowing no earned runs in 1.2 innings. Brandon Stephens and Verdin had a pair of hits to lead the Dawgs offensively, while Cone, Verdin and Hyams each drove in a pair of runs. Five of Georgia’s nine hits came from the bottom three hitters in the lineup.

The Dawgs broke the scoreless tie in the sixth as Cone followed a Farmer single with a double down the left field line to give Georgia a 1-0 lead.

Arkansas, however, answered back with a pair of two-out runs in the top of the seventh to take a 2-1 lead. Georgia regained the lead in the bottom half of the inning with a two-out, two-run home run by Hyams.

Arkansas went back ahead with a pair of runs in the eighth. A double-steal put runners at second and third for the Razorbacks, then a double by Collin Kuhn just got under the glove of Georgia third baseman Curt Powell to plate two runs and give the Razorbacks a 4-3 lead. Another run in the ninth gave Arkansas a two-run lead before Georgia rallied in the bottom half.

“They kept punching back and we were fortunate today,” Perno said. “We kind of hung in there and DeLoach got it started in the ninth. Chase held his ground, and Verdin had the big hit. He’s had two great days and was the difference today. It takes everyone and we got that today.”

Georgia starter Craig Gullickson had his best outing of the season, throwing five scoreless innings and allowing just four hits. Arkansas starter Cade Lynch was just as effective, allowing two hits in 4.1 scoreless innings.

“Craig did a nice job,” Perno said. “He got some tough outs and we made some great plays behind him defensively.”

Georgia has no midweek games due to final exams and returns to action Friday, May 6 at Auburn.

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