No. 3 Georgia Claims Series, Sweeps Doubleheader
April 11, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- With the game tied 1-1 in the top of the sixth inning, No. 3 Georgia struck for three runs in the sixth and seventh, posting a series-clinching 7-4 win over the Kentucky Wildcats in the second game of a double header, Saturday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Georgia (28-6, 10-4 Southeastern Conference) won game one Saturday 7-4, scoring four of its seven runs on walks from the UK pitching staff. The Bulldogs utilized back-to-back three run innings in the sixth and seventh of game two, after utilizing a three-run inning in the fifth of the first game to break open a tie game and claim the series-opening win.
UGA was led in the game by its starting pitcher, lefty Alex McRee, who lasted 5.1 innings, allowing four UK hits and two runs, walking five and striking out three. Offensively, the NCAA leader in RBI, first baseman Rich Poythress led the way for the Bulldogs, pounding out three hits, including his 15th homer of the season. UGA freshman right-hander Michael Palazzone worked a scoreless ninth for his first career save, striking out each Wildcat he faced, UK’s 6-7-8 hitters.
The Wildcats left a season-high total of 12 runners on base in the game, pounding out eight hits and drawing eight walks, the most base on balls drawn for UK since the South Carolina game on March 28. UK was led offensively by second baseman Chris Bisson, freshman Andy Burns and catcher Marcus Nidiffer, who each charted multiple-hit games.
Kentucky starter Chris Rusin, coming off the worst outing of his career after allowing six runs at No. 15 Ole Miss last weekend, allowed six runs in 6.2 innings, striking out six and walking two. Rusin, who ranks fifth all-time in the 105-year history of the program with 20 career wins, drops to 4-3 with the loss.
UK returns to action Sunday, attempting to avoid its first back-to-back series sweeps since the 2005 season. UK has now lost six consecutive games for the first time since the 2005 season. Junior southpaw James Paxton (4-2, 6.08 ERA) takes the hill Sunday, facing off with Georgia right-hander Justin Grimm (2-1, 4.58 ERA).
The game Sunday at 1 p.m. ET will be televised live on the Big Blue Sports Network, with Dick Gabriel, Doug Flynn and Ryan Lemond calling the action. The game can be found live on Fox Sports South (Insight Lexington channel 52) and locally on C-WKYT (Insight Lexington channel 5). The game can also be heard in Lexington on WLAP 630-AM and in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action.
Georgia got on the board first in the top of the first inning, taking a 1-0 lead on two hits and a UK error. Peter Verdin led off with a high-hoping single up the middle, with Bisson making an athletic diving play to snag the ball but did not have a play at first. Matt Cerione followed with a single into left field, moving Verdin to third. After Poythress popped out, Bryce Massanari hit a hard grounder that was misplayed by UK’s shortstop, allowing Verdin to plate from third for an unearned run. Rusin got out of the inning after first baseman Gunner Glad turned a nifty double play on a line drive.
UK (18-15, 4-10 SEC) answered to even the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the third inning. Nidiffer belted a lead-off double down the left-field line, his third double of the season. After Burns drew a walk, Bisson popped up in foul territory on an attempted sacrifice bunt. Wade and Glad followed with walks to load the bags, with Glad’s bases-loaded walk driving in Nidiffer.
Georgia took a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning, as Poythress belted a two-strike offering from Rusin over the party deck in right-center field for his 15th home run of the season. After getting Massanari out on a fielder’s choice that allowed Colby May to reach, Joey Lewis flied out. With two out, Lyle Allen singled to the shortstop, with Wade making a diving play but was unable to get the runner at second on a throw from his knees. Miles Starr, the next hitter, who entered the game with three RBI and a .182 batting average, bounced a single through the left side, scoring two, making it 4-1.
The Wildcats narrowed the Bulldog lead to 4-2 with a run in the bottom of the sixth inning. After Spencer Korus lined out to center field on the first pitch he saw, Troy Frazier drew his second walk of the game. Keenan Wiley, who notched his first career multi-homer game in the first game of the twin-bill, got plunked by a pitch on his hand, putting Frazier in scoring position. Nidiffer came through with the RBI, chopping a single through the left side to score Frazier.
Georgia put the game out of reach with three runs in the top of the seventh inning, stretching its lead to 7-2. After Rusin got the first two outs easily, Poythress singled up the middle and Massanari singled to the left side. May drew a walk off reliever Braden Kapteyn to load the bags for Lewis, who got the tip of the bat on the ball and lofted a single into left center field for two-RBI.
UK got a run back in the seventh, as Wade singled with one out and Glad followed with a single into left field. Chris McClendon drew a walk to load the bags and senior Spencer Korus hung a sacrifice fly into right field, scoring Wade. Frazier belted a line drive to center, hauled in by Cerione, ending the UK threat.
The Wildcats plated another run in the bottom of the eighth, again loading the bags and coming up with just one run. Wiley led off with a walk and after a Nidiffer line out to left, Burns singled on a hard-hit ball to third base. Bisson followed and singled into right-center field, loading the bases. Wade scored Wiley with a sacrifice fly into foul ground. Glad worked a walk to load the bases again and bring up McClendon, who grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the UK threat, the fourth inning in the game UK left multiple runners on base.