Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post I think I’m going to throw up.

Monday June 16, 2008

I don’t know that I’ve ever been this drained just from watching a game.

If Georgia’s grueling 4-3 win over Stanford Monday night at the College World Series was this intense for fans, I can’t imagine how the players held it together.

Georgia football fans – remember how you felt leaving Vanderbilt’s stadium last year or leaving South Carolina in 2002? The thrill of victory alternated with bouts of nausea, and the net effect was relief and exhaustion – and we didn’t even play the games.

After tonight’s game, it’s easy to understand how unseeded Stanford upset Cal-Fullerton and FSU to get to this point. They are tireless fighters, make few mistakes, and force you to work for every scrap you can get against them. Nothing came easy for Georgia tonight, not even the final outs, but somehow here they are 2-0 and in the driver’s seat of their half of the CWS field.

Stanford jumped out 3-0 on three extra-base hits in the third inning including a two-run homer by standout catcher Jason Castro. Though starter Nick Montgomery pitched well otherwise, he yielded to Stephen Dodson in the 4th inning.

If there’s a story developing thus far for Georgia, it’s been the bullpen as a whole. They’ve allowed only one run in two games, and Alex McRee atoned for Saturday’s homerun pitch with a perfect performance against the Cardinal. In fact, the Georgia bullpen allowed only one hit after Montgomery left. Dodson, McRee, and Fields held Stanford in check and gave the offense room to mount the gradual comeback.

Getting back in the game was like pulling teeth. The Dawgs missed a chance to get on the scoreboard in the 3rd when Lyle Allen doubled but was inexplicably held at third base on a David Thoms single to right. Neither Peisel nor Olson could bring in Allen, and the Dawgs missed a golden scoring opportunity.

The first run came in the 4th – Matt Cerione doubled in Gordon Beckham, but Cerione was stranded. Georgia again inched closer in the 6th when Robbie O’Bryan drew a bases-loaded walk that scored Rich Poythress. Still, Georgia could do no further damage with the bases loaded and just one out.

The Dawgs finally got on top in the 7th when Gordon Beckham started a two-out rally with a single. Poythress walked, and Massanari was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Matt Cerione laced a single to center field plating Beckham and Poythress for Cerione’s second and third RBI of the day. O’Bryan popped out to end the rally, but Georgia now held the lead.

McRee pitched an incredibly efficient 8th against the heart of the Cardinal lineup, and you had to like Georgia’s chances with Fields pitching to the bottom half of the Stanford order in the 9th. Nothing was easy in this game, though, and Fields certainly made things interesting by walking and then hitting a batter to put the go-ahead run on base with one out. He worked deep into the count against pinch-hitter Colin Walsh before enticing Walsh to hit a ground ball that was fielded by Beckham and turned into a textbook 6-4-3 double play to end the excruciating game.

Georgia has earned the mixed blessing of three days’ rest before playing again on Friday. Everyone should be fresh and rested, but that’s a long time to stew during a championship run. The good news is that Georgia needs just one more win to advance to next week’s championship round. Stanford must play Miami in an elimination game, and the Bulldogs will have two cracks at the winner of that game.

Georgia will play the winner of Wednesday’s Stanford/Miami game at 2:00 p.m. on Friday (ESPN2). If Georgia wins, they advance straight to the championship round which begins Monday. If Georgia falls, they’ll face a rematch with Friday’s opponent on Saturday to determine who advances.

For a complete schedule and stats and recaps from the CWS, visit this page over at ESPN.com.

And with that…I’m going to go collapse into bed.

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