Georgia Baseball wins Athens Regional in 10 innings against Georgia Tech


Georgia's baseball team trailed arch-rival Georgia Tech on Sunday night, but was not out of contention yet.

The Bulldogs made it to the Super Regionals of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008 by rallying in the Athens Regional final, tying the game and putting the game away in the 10th Inning, 8-6. They did that in Coach Wes Johnson's first season.

Fernando Gonzalez's bunt down the third-base line broke a tie when third baseman Carson Kerce's throw missed the target and caused an error, scoring Tre Phelps, who was hit by the pitch to open the 10th inning.

Corey Collins then scored two runs with a double to right center.

Friday's starter, Leighton Finley, came in with no out and runners on first and second base and allowed a leadoff single to load the bases. He then struck out Drew Burress and Matthew Ellis hit a sacrifice fly. John Giesler hit a groundout to third base and Finley threw his glove nearly to the Bulldogs' dugout as the team celebrated in left field.

“I always tell our players, you can't ever panic,” Johnson said after being doused with fluid by players on the field. “It's the teams that can stay focused, it's the teams that understand that they have to throw us out even in 27 outs, that keep teams in games like this.”

Georgia (42-15), the No. 7 seed nationally, stays home and plays No. 10 seed NC State (36-2) in a best-of-three series with the winner advancing to the College World Series. The Super Regional will be played either Friday-Sunday or Saturday-Monday.

Georgia needed to win on Sunday to advance, but Georgia Tech (33-25) had to beat the Bulldogs twice.

“We fought all year to get here and we brought it home and defended our territory,” Collins said.

Trailing 3-5 in the eighth inning, the Bulldogs did what they do best.

They hit two solo home runs off the bats of Phelps in the eighth and then Kolby Branch in the ninth inning to tie the game.

The Bulldogs, who rank third in the nation in slugging percentage, didn't manage an extra-base hit until Phelps led off the eighth by hammering a 91-mile-per-hour pass from Logan McGuire into left field for his 10th home run of the season, cutting the lead to 5-4.

Branch tied the game with his second home run in as many nights, a leadoff hit to left field after a 93-mph swing by the right-hander McGuire.

“They have a great lineup, they can hurt you in a lot of different ways,” Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall said. “Corey Collins has been a big difference maker for them, too. He's had a great year.”

Georgia Tech, the designated home team, had the bases loaded in the ninth inning, but reliever Chandler Marsh came in and forced NC State transfer Payton Green to ground out with two outs and a full count. Matthew Hoskins came in after Charlie Goldstein left the game with an apparent elbow injury after walking Drew Burress, the only batter facing him. Hoskins left the game with all the bases loaded.

“Charlie will go to the doctor tomorrow,” Johnson said. “It's too early to tell.”

Georgia Tech scored five runs in the first two innings against Bulldog starter Zach Harris. He settled down and allowed four earned runs with six strikeouts, four walks and eight hits in six innings.

It looked like it could be the Jackets' night when No. 9 hitter Vahn Lackey, a .213 batting average, hit a home run to left field that took a 94-mph pitch from Harris for a three-run homer. It was just Lackey's fourth home run of the season.

Left fielder Clayton Chadwick dropped a fly ball off Matthew Ellis' bat that ended with two outs, putting runners on first and third base. John Giesler hit a single to center to make it 5-2.

Georgia Tech began Sunday with a 3-1 win over UNC-Wilmington in a game that was postponed for an hour and 53 minutes due to lightning and rain.

This left the Yellow Jackets with only 69 minutes to play against Georgia.

Georgia won two games against Georgia Tech during the regular season and led 9-3 in the fifth inning of a game at Georgia Tech on March 1 before play was suspended due to rain.

Georgia had offered 12 dates for the resumption of play, but those were ultimately canceled because games, travel, final exams and NCAA-mandated days off were already scheduled, Georgia Tech said.

The Bulldogs, who batted first on Sunday, took a two-run lead in the first inning against Georgia Tech starter Mason Patel, who allowed six singles and three earned runs in 4 1/3 innings. Reliever Ben King (3-2) earned the win with two shutout innings.

Corey Collins was hit for the 27th time this season, which is a school record. Charlie Condon hit a soft grounder through the right side of the infield for a hit. Dylan Goldestin scored the first run and the second came on a fielder's decision to third base by Slate Alford.

Georgia didn't score another run until the fifth inning, when Condon singled to center to bring home a run to make it 5-3. Reliever Ben King, who is heading to medical school at Emory after this season, got Phelps to hit a flyout to center with the bases loaded to end the threat.

The Bulldogs showed they had more left in the tank. Maybe enough to make it to Omaha and the College World Series.