After winning their first SEC series over Tennessee last weekend, the 18th ranked Georgia Bulldogs (16-6) cleared another hurdle Tuesday night with a convincing 7-1 win over archrival and 15th ranked Georgia Tech (14-7).
"I didn't really understand the rivalry coming in," said starting pitcher David Sosebee, who tossed three scoreless innings. "Then I looked up and saw the packed house and listened to the guys, and realized it was a big game. It gave me a lot of energy and I felt the best I have all year. It was, by far, the best baseball experience I've had yet."
While Sosebee held the Jackets scoreless through the first three, Chase Hawkins, Alex Wood, Pete Nagel, Jay Swinford, and Blake Dieterich went the next six innings allowing only one run seven hits, issuing only one free pass, and striking out 10 Yellow Jacket batters.
Count head coach Dave Perno as one who was impressed with the performance of his staff.
"Our guys threw well," said Perno. "They were great tonight. David Sosebee set the tempo. No, it's not fancy and he doesn't strike a lot of guys out but he knows what he is doing. He's poised and he is competitive. I'm going to keep Wood starting, I think he is in that aspect. Nagel kind of bailed us out there."
On a night where the pitching might get a great deal of attention the Georgia bats also came alive with nine hits, including a long home run by Brett Deloach.
None are happier with the offensive outburst than Perno.
"We put a couple of big innings together and got two very important cogs in our lineup going in Levi (Hyams) and Brett Deloach," he said. "For us to go big, they have got to go big. Levi started turning the corner and Deloach had a couple of great at bats. We improved our on base percentage and we did a better job of touching balls and putting balls in play and not striking out as much. We forced some walks."
Deloach started the scoring with a long home run to left in the second inning, and after hits by left fielder Hunter Cole and right fielder Kevin Ruiz, Georgia Tech center fielder Kyle Wren misplayed a pop fly to center by catcher Brandon Stephens that loaded the bases.
Third baseman Curt Powell followed with an RBI grounder to third that was booted by Tech third baseman Sam Dove that allowed the bases to stay loaded, and after Hyams lined out to right, center fielder Conor Welton smoked a single to center that scored Ruiz and Stephens.
Tech pushed a run across in the sixth on an RBI single first baseman Jake Davies off Wood. Nagel relieved Wood with runners on first and second with no outs, but got a strike out, throw out double play to kill the rally.
Georgia added three more runs in the bottom half of the sixth on an RBI single by Powell, a passed ball, and another miscue by the Yellow Jackets defense.
Coming into the game, Georgia had dropped four straight at home to the Yellow Jackets and Perno made sure his team knew the recent history of this series.
"Oh yeah, they know it and they heard it from me more than once and they heard it after the game.," said Perno. " It's a big series and not just Georgia and Georgia Tech. You're talking post season situations and potential host situation so there is a lot at stake here. These older guys haven't had much success against them, and it was good to get the series started off right. We have a lot of games with them and potentially in the post season. You never know, but it is a good way to start."
Georgia will leave the state of Georgia for the first time and the friendly confines of Foley Field for only the second time this season for a weekend series against Vanderbilt on Friday, and having a chance to leave home is something Perno believes his team is looking forward to.
"I don't know if we will play well, but we are excited about getting on the road," he said. "We are glad to be going on the road and seeing what we can do and what we are made of."
The Bulldogs will kick off their weekend series with the Commodores Friday at 7pm with staff ace Alex Wood on the mound.
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