April 1, 2012

'Cats roll Dawgs

After being scratched from his Saturday start due to an injury he sustained during pregame activities on Friday, Michael Palazzone took the mound for the Georgia 25th-ranked Bulldogs in hopes of helping his team take the rubber game of their series with 10th ranked Kentucky.

Unfortunately, he took the mound against a team that is one of the best and hottest in the country.

The Wildcats got the big hits early, and often to take the series way from Georgia in dominant fashion with an 11-2 win.

Georgia got on the board in their half of the first to open the scoring, like they did in all three games in the series, but failed to have a big inning despite loading the bases with two outs.

Georgia's first inning run came on a bases loaded fielder's choice hit into by designated hitter Brett Deloach that scored centerfielder Conor Welton.

Kentucky would respond in a big way in the top of the second when Palazzone hit two Wildcat hitters, issued a bases loaded walk, and then surrendered a bases clearing, three-run double to UK third baseman Thomas McCarthy to make the score 4-1.

Kentucky would never look back as they added two more fourth on a two-run homerun by center fielder Austin Cousino, his second of the series, to make push the lead to 6-1.

Another two-run shot by second baseman J.T. Riddle in the fifth inning gave Kentucky an 8-1 lead, and the Wildcats pushed across another run in the seventh on an RBI double by catcher Michael Williams.

Georgia left fielder Hunter Cole would hit a solo homerun to left field in the eighth to score the Bulldogs' second and final run before seeing Kentucky push across their final two runs in the top of the ninth to complete the scoring at 11-2.

Palazzone went five innings while surrendering 11 hits, eight earned runs, no walks, and five strikeouts.

The Georgia bullpen quartet of Chase Hawkins, Jay Swinford, Ben Ancheff, and Jarrett Brown combined to allow five hits and three runs over the next four innings while issuing two walks and striking out four Kentucky hitters.

Georgia Head Coach David Perno believes that now is the time that his team should take notice of what is happening, and make changes.

"We just aren't playing smart right now," said Perno. "It has been that way for a couple of weeks now, and we have said things and spun it and said that we were going to be all right and we aren't unless we step up. I have to step up and we need the guys to step up and play better, smarter baseball. We are an average team right now, but it doesn't matter where you are at the end of March. It matters where you are at the end of April, and we need to be better in a month."

Despite multiple opportunities in all three games in the series with the Wildcats, Georgia struggled to get the big inning, and it is something that is concerning for Perno.

"We can get one run in an inning for days," he said. "But we can't get more than that. We have to do a better job of that. We have to hit smarter and pitch smarter all the way around."

Georgia will hit the road in hopes of getting back on the right track against Western Carolina at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 3 before starting a three game series with SEC West foe Arkansas in Fayetteville on Friday with first pitch scheduled for 7:35 p.m.

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