Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Never in doubt

Monday June 9, 2008

After the wonderful dismissal of rival Georgia Tech in the regional round, it was reasonable to wonder if the Georgia baseball team could get back up for a series with an unfamiliar opponent. Georgia’s recent postseason opposition had been regional or conference foes like South Carolina, Clemson, FSU, and Georgia Tech – all very familiar, all usually very good, and there was no problem getting up for those teams.

But here was N.C. State. The two programs don’t play each other. They, more or less, don’t recruit against each other. N.C. State’s story was one of a solid but not traditionally-strong program having a great season and seeking its first trip to Omaha since 1968. Georgia fans probably even cheered the Wolfpack when the boys from Raleigh dispatched South Carolina in the regional. Though a trip to the College World Series is always its own motivation, I wondered in the back of my mind if a letdown was possible after the euphoria of taking two games from Tech.

It didn’t take long into the series to discover that 1) N.C. State was a very formidable opponent and 2) it would indeed be very enjoyable sending them home.

It started on Friday when Wolfpack coach coach Elliott Avent asked the home plate umpire to examine Trevor Holder’s cap for a foreign substance. (The cap, of course, checked out clear.) It continued on Saturday when Georgia star Gordon Beckham was hit not once but twice by Wolfpack pitching. It came to a head Sunday afternoon when Wolfpack reliever Drew Taylor hit Lyle Allen following a Joey Lewis home run in the bottom of the 6th. Intentional or not, the pitch just below Allen’s head fired up the Bulldogs to finish the job and enjoy the beating as if it were an SEC or regional rival. Though the umpires and coaches did a good job of keeping the emotion from boiling over, the Bulldogs made sure to get their revenge on the field.

  • "We wanted to make them sorry for Lyle getting hit," catcher Bryce Massanari said. "It woke up the sleeping dogs. After that, we just wanted to pour it on and embarrass them."
  • "Embarrass them," (Gordon) Beckham said about Georgia’s mindset. "I think we got like eight runs after that, didn’t we?"
  • "We were asleep," (coach David) Perno said. "We were in the dugout going ’12 outs. 12 outs, we’re going to Omaha. Nine outs.’ All of a sudden, they woke the bats back up."

If a pitch aimed at a Georgia batter’s head led to a five-run explosion in the bottom of the 7th, Wolfpack pitchers must have been peppering the family members and girlfriends of the Bulldog team prior to the game. Georgia erased any concerns about a tense nailbiter by putting up nine runs in the bottom of the 1st inning. The fact that the only scoreboard drama of the day came when State closed to within six runs indicates how complete of a win it was. On offense, eight Georgia singles combined with two walks and a hit batsman did the damage in the 1st. On defense, Nick Montgomery had yet another strong outing, and he was helped with strong plays in the field by Ryan Peisel, Lyle Allen, Matt Cerione, and Gordon Beckham.

While history might remember Allen’s HBP as the spark for Georgia’s final push at the plate, the first few runs actually came at a very important moment in the game. LSU’s dramatic comeback against Cal-Irvine on Sunday demonstrated that no lead is ever safe in college baseball, so the Wolfpack’s three runs in the top of the 6th were enough to get one’s attention after four straight scoreless innings from the Bulldogs. Gordon Beckham’s first home run of the day, a solo shot to left, got the Bulldogs back on the scoreboard and helped to stem what might have been the beginning of an NCSU comeback. Lewis’s two-run blast completed the scoring for the inning, and Georgia had answered the visitors’ challenge and ensured a relatively anti-climatic finish.

There were no need for Keppinger-esque heroics, and Josh Fields was, if anything, sloppy in closing out the 17-8 win. Instead, the lopsided win provided an opportunity to reflect on the many accomplishments and storylines across the roster. From Beckham’s star power to the emergence of Nick Montgomery to timely hits from the bottom half of the lineup, Sunday’s win gave us the chance to enjoy it all.

Click here for an outstanding gallery from UGASports.com of the celebration.

Comments are closed.