CWS Game 11: Georgia 10, Stanford 8

See also: Georgia-Stanford Box Score

OMAHA—A lengthy layoff might have made Georgia angry, but it could not weaken the Bulldogs’ resolve.

Georgia, which hadn’t played since beating Stanford on Monday, channeled its frustration into a focused barrage, and the Cardinal took the brunt of it. After coming from behind in the late innings to win their first two games in Omaha, the Bulldogs sucked the drama out of Saturday’s game early. They jumped out to an early lead and withstood a ninth-inning rally to beat Stanford 10-8 and complete a perfect run to the CWS finals.

Stanford had cut Georgia’s lead from five runs to three in the bottom of the fourth inning, but Ryan Peisel stopped the Cardinal’s momentum in its tracks. Peisel delivered a three-run homer to right field in the top of the fifth to put the Bulldogs ahead 9-3, and the game was never close again.

Rich Poythress got Georgia’s offense going in the early innings. The sophomore first baseman doubled and scored in his first two plate appearances in the second and third innings, then came through with a two-run single in the fourth. He added another RBI double in the seventh to make it 10-4 and finished with four RBIs in the game. Poythress became the eighth player in CWS history to hit three doubles in a game, tying the record.

Not Have Noticed:
The crowd of 15,828 was the smallest CWS crowd since June 18, 2004. Oddly enough, that game was also a Georgia victory over a Pac-10 team (Arizona). This small of a crowd for a Saturday afternoon game is startling. The overall attendance for the CWS is now about 16,000 fans behind last year’s record pace.

“You’re always a little bit worried after a couple days off how the team’s going to react, because you never know what kind of rhythm people are going to have,” said UGa. senior third baseman Ryan Peisel, who had three hits including a three-run homer that broke the game open in the fifth. “I felt like it took us a few innings just to settle in, but once we did we just played our game, and we outplayed them today.”

For the third straight game, Georgia’s bullpen did the heavy lifting on the mound, as its three best relievers—Dean Weaver, Alex McRee and Joshua Fields—combined to throw 6 2/3 innings. Georgia jumped out to a 4-0 lead heading into the bottom of the third and stretched it to 6-1 an inning later, which allowed the Bulldogs’ pitchers to focus on throwing strikes, even if they gave up a few runs.

Starter Nathan Moreau’s inability to follow that blueprint resulted in his early exit in the third inning. Immediately following Georgia’s three-run third, Moreau walked No. 9 hitter Jake Schlander to lead off the bottom of the frame, causing Weaver to sprint to the bullpen. The

Cardinal (41-24-2) loaded the bases against Moreau with one out, and coach David Perno didn’t hesitate to pull him for Weaver. No Georgia starting pitcher has lasted past the fourth inning in three College World Series games, yet the Bulldogs (44-23-1) are headed to the finals.

“That’s a little unusual, but it’s who we are,” Perno said. “We had a streak in league play where we went 40 innings and our bullpen didn’t give up an earned run. We’ve had four days off. We put the big inning up, and Nathan’s going to go out and walk the nine-hole hitter on four pitches, and I’ve got a fresh Dean Weaver and Alex McRee sitting down there—I’m not going to wait too long. In a different situation I might have tried to hang in there with Nathan a little longer, but not today.”

The bullpen wasn’t dominant Saturday like it was in Georgia’s first two CWS games, but it protected its healthy working margin. Stanford freshman Ben Clowe brought the Cardinal within two with a pinch-hit, three-run homer in the ninth off Joshua Fields, but Stanford never got the tying run to the plate, as Cord Phelps flew out to end it.

Georgia’s bats were a bigger key than the bullpen Saturday. Sophomore first baseman Rich Poythress led the Bulldogs’ 15-hit assault, going 4-for-5 with a CWS record-tying three doubles and four RBIs. After Cardinal starter Jeremy Bleich was lifted with the bases loaded in the fourth, Poythress delivered a two-run single that stretched the lead to five runs.

Sophomore DH Joey Lewis also provided a major spark early for the Dawgs, singling home Poythress after each of his first two doubles in the second and third innings. Lewis finished with three RBIs.

“They’re a great team, and they were just too much for us today,” Stanford coach Mark Marquess said. “We just could not stop them. They came up with a big hit time and time again. We played them twice and just couldn’t beat them—they’re a better team than we are.”

The Bulldogs were also the angrier team Saturday, and that gave them an extra edge. Who would have thought that four-day layoff would actually give Georgia a mental advantage, in addition to the physical advantage of additional rest?

“It was tough. I think we got really restless,” said Georgia shortstop Gordon Beckham, who went 2-for-4. “The other day at practice, I think it was Thursday, everybody was just mad. Everybody wanted to get out there playing. You could tell we were getting kind of itchy, talking back to each other—we wanted to play. I don’t think we had had that much time off all year. We were just itching to play, then when (Thursday’s North Carolina-Louisiana State game) was rained out, we were just really, really upset. We came out here to play, and you don’t want to get sick of Omaha.

“But we’re enjoying it, we’re ready to go. We’re in the national championship. You couldn’t ask more than to play on the last day—that’s all we can ask. The chips are going to fall the way they are, but we’re playing on the last day.”