TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Georgia came into Sunday's elimination game against Ohio State expecting to play Florida State at 4 p.m. A funny thing happened on the way to that game for the Bulldogs: Ohio State's bats woke up. It will be Ohio State taking on the Seminoles after eliminating Georgia 13-6.
Ohio State had hit .330 during the regular season, but just .279 in the regional. Today the Buckeyes pounded out 13 hits. "We really put pressure on them today," Ohio State coach Bob Todd said. "They just could not handle it."
The Buckeyes showed up early scoring seven total runs through the first four innings. In the bottom of the seventh Ohio State put the game away with a six spot.
The big stars for Ohio State were center fielder Michael Stephens (3-for-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI) and DH Ryan Dew (4-for-5, 1 RBI). Stephens had the game-changing blow for Ohio State. Georgia still had the clear momentum as Stephens stepped to the plate to lead off the third. He then laced a ball off the center-field wall. Georgia center fielder Matt Cerione crashed into the wall and the ball rolled away, allowing Stephens to come around for an inside-the-park homer. "That just really changed the momentum for us, and got us going," Stephens said.
"I thought he (Cerione) jumped into the wall just to look good," Georgia coach David Perno said. "He had no chance at catching the ball; he did not even come close to it."
Stephens would later add a second homer, out of the park, a three-run shot to deep left-center.
"We did not pitch well or play good defense, and you can't win when you do that," Perno said. "We have been a team that has not played smart at times all year, and we did it today and it really cost us."
Georgia still had a chance in the top of the seventh down one run with runners on the corners, one out, and first baseman Rich Poythress at the plate. Ohio State turned to ace closer Jake Hale, who struck out Poythress and escaped the inning with no runs scored.
"We got the situation we wanted," Perno said. "Hale just did a better job. When we didn't score there the game really turned."
Hale had his longest outing of the year, going 2 2/3 innings, striking out six. Hale further extended his school saves record with his 18th of the season. Righty Drew Rucinski got the win for the second day in a row, his 12th win of the year (all in relief). The Buckeyes improved to 36-1 when leading after seven with the victory.