Georgia, hot off a 6-3 victory over the Ole Miss Rebels, looks to advance further into the SEC baseball tournament with a win over Arkansas this evening. Yesterday, Matt Cerione’s grand slam helped Georgia to their first SEC tournament win three tries. A win tonight puts Georgia in excellent position to make it to the championship game, and gives them a day off Friday.
The #20 Arkansas Razorbacks (33-20, 14-15 SEC), seeded 7th in the tournament, upset Florida to stay in the winner’s bracket. Georgia won the season series taking two of three in Athens in mid-April. In the series, both teams hit under .200, showcasing both teams’ superb pitching staffs. Today doesn’t look to be much different; the Razorbacks’ Brett Eibner and the Bulldogs’ Trevor Holder will both start and try to pitch their teams to second round victories. Eibner, who is coming off a a complete-game one-hitter in the Razorbacks victorious season finale, is 4-4 with a 4.17 era averaging a strikeout per inning. Holder, who’s trip to Birmingham this week serves as a homecoming, is 7-4 with a 4.68 era. A key for Holder will be to keep the ball in the ballpark—he’s allowed a team high 19 homers this season.
FINAL: Georgia wins 2-1 in 10th. See below for details. Georgia plays next on Saturday at 1:30pm.
If the Bulldogs win today, they will play Saturday at 1:30; if Georgia loses, they will play tomorrow at 3:30pm.
UPDATE, 5:23 CT: The game is scheduled to begin at 5:55 pm CT. LSU won the previous game, but not before Alabama brought the tying run to the plate in the top of the 9th.
UPDATE, 6:55 CT: Probably going to get underway in about 5 minutes. Player introductions are just wrapping up.
Here are tonight’s starting lineups. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter (WUOGsports). Per NCAA media regulations, I’ll be updating the blog every half-inning. I’ll be tweeting the score every half-inning as well for those of you following on your mobile devices.
Georgia Bulldogs Arkansas Razorbacks
lf – Johnathan Taylor lf – Chase Leavitt
cf – Matt Cerione ss – Ben Tschepikow
1b – Rich Poythress dh – Travis Sample
c – Bryce Massanari 1b – Andy Wilkins
dh – Joey Lewis 3b – Zack Cox
rf – Lyle Allen cf – Collin Kuhn
3b – Colby May 2b – Bo Bigham
ss – Levi Hyams rf – Jarrod McKinney
2b – David Thoms c – James McCann
Bottom 10th, Ark 1, UGA 1: Cerione starts things off with a routine single the other way (to right field). Poythress hits his second double of the day, and advanced Cerione to third. Massanari is intentionally walked to create a force at third. Lewis hits a hard line drive to third, Cox makes a great diving snag, but accidentilly touches third voiding the force at home. Cerione is ruled safe at home, Dawgs win–dogpile at homeplate. Georgia wins 2-1 in the 10th.
NOTE/UPDATE, 10:15 CT: Everyone is still unsure of what happened on the last play. There is a chance that the catcher’s foot came off home plate (and Cox never touched third). The end result is the same. Georgia is in pretty good shape heading into the last half of the tournament.
Top 10th, Ark 1, UGA 1: The bottom of the order is due up for Arkansas. If Weaver can get Georgia through this half, Cerione, Poythress, and Massanari are due up. Kuhn starts the inning with a pop out to right field. Bigham hits a 1-out single to left just under the outstretched glove of Colby May. Next pitch, Bigham tallies his third steal of the year when Hyams drops a near perfect throw from Lewis. Arkansas has all the momentum in their dugout–the Georgia dugout looks shocked. McKinney shoots a grounder to Poythress who steps on 1st for the out. Bigham advances to third on the play. Weaver freezes Cisterna who strikes out looking to end the inning, and the Arkansas threat. Still tied, we go to the bottom of the 10th.
Bottom 9th, Ark 1, UGA 1: Stephen Richards enters the game to pitch for the Hogs. Forrest ends the day recording a K in his two innings of work. This is rare that Georgia blew the lead–they’re 30-2 when leading after eight innings. When tied, they’re 5-1. We’ll see what happens. Hyams leads off how the top half ended, grounding into a 4-3. Starr strikes out looking for the second out of the inning. Zach Cone enters the game to pinch hit for Taylor. He grounds out to short to end the inning. All tied up after 9, it’s time for some free baseball. We go to the 10th.
Top 9th, Ark 0, UGA 1: The lead-off hitter, Leavitt, singles to center to give the Razorbacks’ some life in the top of the 9th. Tschepikow follows with a single to the left center gap advancing Leavitt to third. Perno decides to bring Weaver into the game. Holder ends the day pitching 8 innings allowing 0 runs on 5 hits (0 walks allowed). He struck out 4. Weaver starts things off getting Sample to strike out looking. Wilkins hits a deep fly to center–Cerione records the out, but isn’t able to catch Leavitt from tagging up–tie game. Tschepikow advances to second, but injures himself on the slide. After a delay, Tschepikow stays in the game. Cox, however, ends the inning by hitting into a 4-3. Going to the bottom of the 9th, Ark 1, UGA 1.
Bottom 8th, Ark 0, UGA 1: Joey Lewis hits a hard grounder up the middle that carries Tschepikow into shallow center, but Tschepikow collects himself and throws to first for the out. Lyle Allen strikes out looking, his second K of the evening. Tschepikow makes another great play to end the inning–MAy hits a sharp grounder to the left side, but Tschepikow ranges over and throws across his body for the out. Arkansas has three out left–we’re going to the 9th.
Top 8th, Ark 0, UGA 1: Bigham hits a weak chopper back to Holder who makes the easy out at first. McKinney pops out to right for the second out of the inning. It really feels like Georgia is in control, but the Hogs are one swing away from tying this up. Scott Lyons enters the game to pinch hit for James McCann. Holder sends Lyons back to the dugout swinging. Arkansas has three outs left. UGA leads 1-0 as we go to the bottom of the 8th.
Bottom 7th, Ark 0, UGA 1: Arkansas brings in TJ Forrest to pitch. Eibner ends the day pitching over 100 pitches in 6 innings, allowing 1 run on 5 hits, 4 walks, and one hit batter. Forrest has struggled this year going 2-5 with an ERA up near 6. Forrest starts his appearence by walking Johnathan Taylor. Cerione grounds to short, allowing Taylor to advance, but is unable to beat out a strong throw to first. During the play, Taylor had to quickly jump to avoid Cerione’s ball. Poythress grounds to third for the second out–Taylor is forced to hold at second. Massanari pops out to second to end the inning. UGA still leads 1-0.
Top 7th, Ark 0, UGA 1: Miles Starr enters the game at second base for O’Bryan. Immediatly Starr is tested–Wilkins hits a bloop pop to shallow right. Starr ranges back and makes the grab for the first out. Cox pops out to Taylor on the warning track in left for the second out. Kuhn grounds into a 4-3, but almost beats it out. End of the inning, Georgia still leads 1-0.
Bottom 6th, Ark 0, UGA 0: Poythress hits a double to the right field gap for his 15th double of the season. Massanari follows with a double of his own allowing Poythress to score and putting the Dawgs on top, 1-0. Arkansas has a conference on the mound, while action beings in the Razorback bullpen. Before this inning, each pitcher had only allowed three hits, but the momentum seems to be shifting Georgia’s way. Joey Lewis pops out to short for the first out of the inning. Lyle Allen walks to put runners on 1st and 2nd. Liek Allen, Hyams draws the walk to load up the bases. Robbie O’Bryan enters the game to pinch hit for David Thoms, but he strikes out looking to end the inning. Dawgs plates one, but strands four. Ark 0, UGA 1.
Top 6th, Ark 0, UGA 0: Matt Cerione ranges to his left and makes a diving catch on a Leavitt line drive to center. Tschepikow hits a routine pop fly to left that Taylor easily brings in for the second out. Trevor Holder gets his third K when he strikes out Sample to end the inning.
Bottom 5th, Ark 0, UGA 0: Hyams begins the inning with a pop out to short. Neither team can find their rhythm at the plate. Thoms follows that statement with a swinging strikeout–2 outs. Taylor fouls two off down the 3rd base line, then gets hit on the back on an arrant curveball. Next pitch, Matt Cerione hits what at first appears to be a roundtripper, but the wind catches it, and sends us to the 6th, still scoreless.
Top 5th, Ark 0, UGA 0: Bigham starts things off with an out, 6-3. This is really starting to turn into a pitching duel–I have a feeling the first mistake will be a costly one for whatever team makes it. McKinney goes down swinging for the second out. McCann, now 0-2, flies out to right to end the inning. This game is really scooting along. No score.
Bottom 4th, Ark 0, UGA 0: Massanari flies out to left to start things off. Joey Lewis records the second out of the inning when he goes down swinging on high heat. Lyle Allen draws a 2-out walk to give the Dawgs a baserunner. Colby May flies out to Tschepikow who ranges into shallow center field to make the catch, and the final out of the inning. Still, 0-0.
Top 4th, Ark 0, UGA 0: Sample drops in a bloop hit to shallow left field to start things off for the Razorbacks in the 4th. Wilkins hits a high, deep drive to center field, but Cerione runs it down to get the first Georgia out of the inning. Cox grounds out to Poythress, but advances Sample to to second. Kuhn hits a fly to center that starts to die, but Cerione makes a diving grab to end the inning. Still no score.
Bottom 3rd, Ark 0, UGA 0: To lead off, David Thoms draws a four pitch walk. Johnathan Taylor pops up his bunt attempt, and Zack Cox makes an amazing barehanded catch for the first out. Cerione lines out to an extended Bo Bigham at second base. Poythress grounds to third for the final out of the inning, 6-3. Still, no score.
Top 3rd, Ark 0, UGA 0: Bo Bigham begins the inning with a line drive single to left field. McKinney flies out to Allen in right for the first out of the inning. McCann, the catcher (no relation to Atlanta’s Brian McCann) strikes out swinging for the second out of the inning. Leavitt punches a bunt to third for a base hit. Bigham advances to second on the play. Tschepikow grounds to Poythress for the final out of the inning, 3U. No score at the end of 2 1/2 innings.
Bottom 2nd, Ark 0, UGA 0: Joey Lewis hits flyball that trails off towards fould territory, but McKinney is able to catch up to it and get the first out of the inning. Eibner gets hit first strikeout when the next batter, Allen, goes down swinging for the second out of the inning. Colby May hits a 2-out double to right center field, his 14th of the year. Hyams hits a hard ground ball up the middle for a single–Arkansas shortstop dives to keep it in the infield, then throws home where Colby May runs Georgia out of the inning, 6-2-5. No score.
Top 2nd, Ark 0, UGA 0: Wilkins starts the inning with an out by grounding out to Thoms at second, 4-3. Thoms, on an identical ground ball hit by Cox, throws to first for out number two. Collin Kuhn hits a liner, but Levi Hyams comes up with a diving grab to end the inning. No score at the end of the inning.
Bottom 1st, Ark 0, UGA 0: Taylor starts the inning with a ground out to shortstop. It looked for a second like he might beat it out…but came up a few steps short. Cerione, who’s hot off his clutch grand slam in yesterday’s game, hits a chopper right back to the pitcher, Eibner, who flips it to first for the out. Next batter, Poythress, hits a 2-out single into center field on a 2-2 pitch. Massanari ends the inning by popping out to secondbaseman, Bo Bigham. No score at the end of one.
Top 1st, Ark 0, UGA 0: Not nearly as many people here for the start of session two as were here for session one. First pitch by Holder is lined towards first by Leavitt, but Poythress makes a diving stop and steps on first for the out. Tschepikow hits a soft grounder to second, 4-3, for the second out. Sample pops out to 3rd for the final out of the inning. Ark 0, UGA 0.