Saturday, May 5, 2012

Diamond Dawgs Rally Past Auburn


Kyle Farmer’s RBI-single capped a two-run rally as Georgia clinched another SEC series with a 6-5 win over Auburn in 11 innings Saturday at Foley Field.

Georgia (27-20, 11-12) never led Saturday until Farmer’s walk-off base hit as the Tigers fell to 25-21 overall and 10-13 in the SEC. It was Farmer’s second walk-off hit this season, also delivering against Kennesaw State at Coolray Field on March 6 when the Dawgs posted a 3-2 decision. A total of more than 60 former Dawg baseball letterman were among the crowd of 2,438 as Georgia held its annual Alumni Day.

Auburn built a 4-2 lead after six innings. The Tigers struck first with a solo homerun by Justin Bryant who went 4-for-4 with a walk on the afternoon. Creede Simpson scored in the fourth off an RBI single by Garrett Cooper. Auburn would plate two more runs including a solo shot off the bat of Simpson later in the game.

Georgia got on the board with three consecutive singles by Levi Hyams, Peter Verdin and Colby May. Conor Welton smacked a line drive at the third basemen, which was bobbled, allowing Verdin to score in the second inning. Later in the fifth, May reached on a walk, advanced to third by a Welton single and was able to score on a wild pitch to make it a two-run affair. The Dawgs trailed 4-2 until the seventh when their bats had some life to tie the contest. Farmer hit a long double over the centerfielder which scored Welton who reached earlier in the inning with a walk. Brett DeLoach followed up with a near identical double scoring Farmer.

Auburn pitcher Daniel Koger tossed for five innings allowing six hits and giving up two runs but did not factor in the decision. Koger was relieved by Derek Varnadore who came in to strike out the side in the sixth. Varnadore went the rest of the way, allowing four runs on five hits over the final 5.2 innings and fell to 2-7.

UGA senior starter Michael Palazzone lasted six innings, giving up four runs on seven hits while tallying five strikeouts. After Palazzone, Georgia got solid relief from senior Chase Hawkins. Jay Swinford, Blake Dieterich and Bryan Benzor. Benzor allowed a run in the 11th but benefited from the Dawg rally to pick up a victory to move his record to 5-4.

After being shut out for four straight innings, the Tigers took a 5-4 lead in the 11th inning. After a single by Bryant, Mitchell Self knocked him in with an RBI double off Benzor. The Dawgs responded with a leadoff walk by Jonathan Hester. Hester advanced to second on a Nelson Ward groundout and later scored on a fielder’s choice by Curt Powell, who reached second on a throwing error. Farmer followed with an RBI single that provided a walk off win. Farmer finished the day 3-for-6 with two RBI.

“I thought we pitched pretty well today and the defense made some big plays,” said coach David Perno. “I liked how we hung in there and battled. We never could break it open; we had some chances early but we didn’t give up a big inning either so that helped. I liked how we responded in the 11th. We’ve been in some close games this year, and I think playing at home helped us today because we’ve lost some tough ones on the road.”

Georgia is now 8-7 in one-run games this year including 3-3 in the SEC and 1-1 in extra innings. The Dawgs wrap up the series Sunday at 2 p.m. Georgia will start freshman Luke Crumley (1-2, 4.44 ERA) while the Tigers counter with freshman right-hander Trey Cochran-Gill (4-1, 2.59 ERA).

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