TUSCALOOSA, ALA. - Alabama closed out its season by rallying past Georgia 6-4 Saturday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium, putting a crimp in the Bulldogs' post-season plans.
"It's too hard momentum-wise when you don't score in certain situations when you should and that wears on you," said Georgia coach David Perno. "We had a couple guys that had a tough time out of the bullpen too. We're getting too many hits and not enough runs. We hit some hard right at some guys especially at the end but we left too many on base and in scoring position. We've hung in there this season, and we're in the SEC Tournament, and now we have to take advantage of it."
Georgia (31-24, 14-15 SEC) took a 1-0 lead in the first as freshman right fielder Hunter Cole reached on a two-out walk, took second on a walk by junior catcher Brett DeLoach and scored on a base hit by senior second baseman Levi Hyams (3-for-4). In the bottom of the frame, sophomore left fielder Conor Welton took a home run away from Jared Reaves, timing his leap at the wall to snag the baseball for the second out. In the third, Georgia extended its lead to 3-0 on an RBI-groundout by Cole and a run-scoring single by DeLoach. In the fourth, the Bulldogs put runners at second and third with nobody out for the top of the order and came up empty.
Alabama (21-34, 9-21 SEC) pushed across a run in the fourth as Ben Moore was hit by a pitch, advanced to second on a stolen base and scored on a base hit Austen Smith to make it 3-1. Both starting pitchers were lifted after four innings. Alabama's Charley Sullivan allowed three runs on six hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Georgia freshman Luke Crumley gave up one run on two hits with two walks and one strikeout. The Bulldogs turned to senior Chase Hawkins to start the fifth. Alabama tied the game as the first two reached on a base hits and then with one out, Reaves smashed a two-run double to make it 3-all. After a walk to Moore, Georgia lifted Hawkins and looked to redshirt freshman Jay Swinford. On a full count, Smith lined out to right field and Alabama had sent the runners, so an alert Cole fired back to May at first to complete an inning-ending double play.
In the seventh, Georgia loaded the bases with one out and sent freshman pinch-hitter Nelson Ward to the plate to face Jay Shaw. He lined a shot back up the middle that Shaw got a glove on it as it bounded to shortstop to get an out at second. On the fielder's choice, Cole scored to push Georgia back in front 4-3. Swinford provided 1.2 scoreless innings and junior lefthander Blake Dieterich started the seventh.
Alabama took the lead with a three-run rally in the eighth. Freshman Pete Nagel inherited a two on, one out jam. He walked Brett Booth to load the bases and then got Josh Rosecrans to pop out. However, a wild pitch tied the game. Next, James Tullidge reached on a walk to load the bases again for Jon Kelton. On a 3-2 offering, Kelton lined a two-run single to give Alabama a 6-4 advantage.
In the ninth, Georgia led off with base hits by DeLoach and Hyams and then Verdin moved them into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Then Ward lined out to second. May drew a walk to load the bases for Welton who lined out to left as Gregory made a running catch to end the contest.
Georgia finished the day 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position including 0 for its last 13. The Bulldogs left 14 on base. Dieterich fell to 3-4, allowing two runs on two hits in 1.1 innings while Jay Shaw pitched 1.2 scoreless innings to even his record to 1-1. Trey Pilkington pitched the ninth for his second save.
Up next, the Bulldogs remain in the state, heading to Hoover to begin preparations for the SEC Tournament that starts Tuesday. Georgia will be the No. 8 seed and face No. 5 Vanderbilt Tuesday night at Regions Park. The Georgia-Vanderbilt contest will begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of the Florida-Auburn game that is slated to begin at 4:30 p.m. CT. It will be double elimination until Saturday when it becomes single elimination. The 10 teams are seeded 1-10 with the two divisional champions guaranteed of the top two seeds and first-round byes. Seeds are based on conference winning percentage. Georgia has a 28-38 all-time record at the tournament. The 2012 appearance will be the 20th in school history. Last year, Georgia reached the semifinals, going 3-2 which helped them advance to another NCAA Regional.