Georgia Rallies To Defeat Gamecocks 16-10 At SEC Tournament
May 26, 2006
Hoover, Ala. - Ninth ranked Georgia rallied from a nine-run deficit after the second inning to score 14 unanswered runs on its way to a 16-10 win over 23rd ranked South Carolina in an elimination game on Friday afternoon at the SEC Baseball Tournament. Georgia pounded out 22 hits to earn a win over the Gamecocks. The Bulldogs improve to 40-18 while the loss drops Carolina to 37-22 on the year. Carolina is eliminated from the SEC Tournament.
The 16 runs and 22 hits by Georgia were the most by an opponent against the Gamecocks this season. Each player in the Bulldog starting lineup had at least two hits. Jonathan Wyatt went 4-for-7 with two runs and two RBI, Jason Jacobs was 3-for-5 with four RBI and Josh Morris was 3-for-5 scoring three runs as well. Joey Side, Gordon Beckham, Bobby Felmy, Kyle Keen, Ryan Peisel and Matthew Dunn had two hits. Carolina had nine runs and eight hits in the first two innings and just one run and three hits the rest of the game. Justin Smoak was 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBI to lead Carolina. He also set the school record for RBI by a freshman player in one season. Smoak has 57 on the year that bests the previous record of 55 set by Chris Boyle in 1981. Neil Giesler and Ian Paxton also had two hits for USC.
The Gamecocks would waste no time getting on the scoreboard with three runs in the first inning. USC's James Darnell took advantage of a misplay by shortstop Gordon Beckham and Neil Giesler hit an infield single to set the table for Justin Smoak, who drilled a homer that cleared the wall in left center giving the Gamecocks a 3-0 lead. Smoak now leads the team with 16 homers this year. He has three this season against Georgia including two against Moreau.
The long ball would continue to benefit Carolina with six more runs in the second inning on the backs of homers by Ian Paxton and Phil Disher as well as another RBI base hit from Justin Smoak. Paxton's two-run homer almost was in the exact spot in left center that Smoak hit his homer. The homer for Paxton was his fifth of the year. Smoak continued to hit Moreau in the third inning with a two-out RBI single scoring Darnell for the second time. With a pair of runners on base, Carolina designated hitter Phil Disher greeted Georgia reliever Trevor Holder with an opposite field three-run homer to extend the USC lead to 9-0. Disher's homer was his second of the year.
Georgia responded in the third inning though and began their rally as they batted around and scored five times against Carolina to cut the deficit to four runs. Beckham had a RBI base hit along with a two-run triple by Jacobs that would lead to the removal of Carolina starter Will Atwood. Atwood went 2.1 innings and allowed five runs on five hits with three walks. Jacobs scored the final run of the inning on a balk charged to reliever Andrew Cruse. The Carolina lead would shrink to 9-8 in the fourth inning as the Bulldogs would score on Cruse's second balk followed up by a pair of two-out RBI singles courtesy of Keen and Peisel.
Georgia took its first lead of the game in the fifth inning as Joey Side ripped a two-run homer off the first pitch from reliever Wynn Pelzer to give the Bulldogs a 10-9 lead. That lead would increase to 12-9 with Jacobs driving in another run on a RBI single followed by a sacrifice fly by Keen. Georgia would knock Pelzer out of the game with Jonathan Wyatt ripping a two-run two-out single up the middle to score Jacobs and Peisel. Pelzer suffered the loss and is now 4-4 on the year. Holder worked four innings of relief to pick up the win and is now 3-3 this season. South Carolina would score once more in the sixth inning and Georgia twice in the eighth inning to complete the scoring.
South Carolina now awaits word on a possible berth to the NCAA Baseball Tournament field of 64 that is announced on Monday, May 29 at 12:30 pm ET on ESPN. The 16 regional site selections will be announced on Sunday, May 28 at 3:30 pm ET on ESPNews. The Gamecocks have made six consecutive trips to the NCAA baseball tournament (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005).