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Blackmon, Haniger lead Tech past Louisville

POSTED: June 10, 2008 5:00 a.m.

ATHENS — Jason Haniger and Charlie Blackmon each had three hits and two RBIs, leading Georgia Tech past Louisville 8-5 Friday at the NCAA Athens regional.

The Yellow Jackets (40-19) won on the same day the Atlanta medical examiner issued a report showing pitcher Michael Hutts died from an accidental heroin overdose last month. The team managed to put that grim news aside for a few hours and advanced to the winner's bracket for a game against surprising Lipscomb on Saturday.

The upstart Bisons knocked off host Georgia in the regional opener. The Bulldogs will face Louisville in an elimination game Saturday.

The Big East champion Cardinals (41-20) came into the NCAAs on quite a roll, having won 25 of 31 games. But their season is one loss from being done despite Justin McClanahan's two homers.

Georgia Tech manufactured a run in the first. Blackmon led off with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch, stole third and came home on Luke Murton's sacrifice fly.

Blackmon was in the middle of things again in the second as the Yellow Jackets pushed across another run after two outs. Haniger and Patrick Long hit back-to-back singles, and Chris House walked to load the bases. Blackmon singled sharply to right, driving in a run, but Stewart Ijames easily threw out Long at the plate to end the inning.

Blanked through the first five innings by David Duncan, the Cardinals struck suddenly in the sixth. With one on, McClanahan homered over the left-field wall on a 1-2 pitch to tie it up. Chris Dominguez went back-to-back for his 21st of the season, driving another 1-2 pitch for an even longer homer to give Louisville its first lead.

It would be short-lived. Georgia Tech reclaimed the lead in the bottom half with a pair of runs.

Tony Plagman was hit by a pitch, Haniger singled and Long walked to load the bases with one out. Thomas Royse came on replace starter Justin Marks and nearly got out of the mess. Pinch-hitter Thomas Nichols lined out to third, and Blackmon followed with a slow infield grounder toward second.

McClanahan bobbled the ball in his haste to field it, then made a horrible throw that skipped by first baseman Andrew Clark. The tying and go-ahead runs scored on the play, which was scored a hit and an error.

The Yellow Jackets stretched out their lead in the seventh against Royse. After Plagman's run-scoring single, Haniger hit a long two-run homer into the trees beyond the center-field wall to make it 7-3.

McClanahan led off the eighth with his 12th homer of the year, but Brad Rulon got the final two outs in the ninth for his sixth save.

Andrew Robinson (4-2) earned the win with 2 2-3 innings of relief, giving up a couple of runs. Duncan went 5 2-3 innings, giving up eight hits and three runs.

Marks (9-2) surrendered six hits, walked four and gave up four runs (three earned) in 5 1-3 innings.


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