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February 26, 2014

Dawgs fall short

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After beating Furman on Tuesday, Georgia hoped to build a little more momentum with a win Wednesday over Georgia State.

So much for wishful thinking.

Five Panther pitchers combined to scatter six hits and the Panthers made a three-run seventh stand up to beat the Bulldogs 3-2.

It wasn't like Georgia didn't have opportunities.

In the first inning the Bulldog scored a quick run and had runners on first and second with nobody but failed to score again when cleanup hitter Zach Bowers bounced into a double play and Jess Posey rolled out to pitcher Kenny Anderson (1-0) to end the inning.

"You've got a guy on the ropes, you've got to take advantage of it. We had runners on first and second, our four-hole hitter up and swing at a bad first pitch," Georgia skipper Scott Stricklin said. "We talk about with that guy (Anderson) you've got to hit the ball back through the middle because he's not going to overpower you with fastballs. We swung at his pitch instead of swinging at our pitch."

That would be the only run Georgia (2-6) would score until the seventh.

"We could have had three or four in the first inning, instead it's just 1-0," Stricklin said. "They felt they had the momentum."

The game started interestingly enough as four Bulldog pitchers held the Panthers hitless until Greg Bowder singled to lead off the seventh.

That started would turned out to be a three-run inning for Georgia State, which reached reliever David Sosebee (0-1) for all the damage before Jarrett Brown came on to escape further trouble.

Trailing 3-1, the Bulldogs tallied an unearned run in the inning's bottom half but missed a chance for more when Hunter Cole flew out to deep center field with runners at second and third.

"He left a changeup up and I got under it," Cole said. "I had a good swing it happens."

Bulldog pitching and some stellar defense by center fielder Stephen Wrenn was the story for the first two-thirds of the game.

Starter Luke Crumley, Ross Ripple, Mike Mancuso and Dylan Cole held the Panthers without a hit, enabling the Bulldogs to hang onto a slim 1-0 lead. Wrenn made sure the score stayed that way in the fourth.

With two runners on, Georgia State right fielder Chase Raffield lined a deep shot to center field. Wrenn started running at the crack of the bat, turning his back to the infield before making a diving head-long catch to save two runs.

Sean McLaughlin did his best imitation in the ninth when a he dove head-first in front of the right-field wall to rob the Panthers (5-3) of another would-be hit.

"Those were two great plays by two really good athletes," Stricklin said. "At the time that was a game-saver that Stephen Wrenn made and when Sean made his play that gave us momentum to get to the dugout in the bottom of the ninth. It was two great plays, but unfortunately we just couldn't get the win."

NOTE: Georgia returns for a three-game set against Binghamton starting Friday afternoon at 5. With a scoreless two innings, Ripple lowered his ERA from 99.0 to 15.43. The Bulldogs used eight pitchers on the afternoon. With the exception of Sosebee, Georgia's seven other hurlers did not give up a run. "It was very encouraging to see the way the guys jumped on the mound and pitched," Stricklin said. "I thought they really competed and did their job."

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