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Bulldogs stay alive in NCAA Tournament

POSTED: June 11, 2008 5:02 a.m.
The Associated Press/

Georgia's Gordon Beckham, center, is greeted by teammates after hitting a three-run home run to tie up the score 5-5 with the Louisville in the seventh inning of the NCAA Athens Regional baseball tournament on Saturday in Athens.

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ATHENS — Georgia players were waiting for a sign that their postseason slump would end.
It was no surprise that sign was delivered by Gordon Beckham.

Beckham hit a three-run homer to start a seven-run seventh inning, and Georgia rallied from a three-run deficit and beat Louisville 9-8 on Saturday to eliminate the Cardinals from the NCAA tournament.

Georgia was upset by Lipscomb in Friday night’s regional opener after losing two straight games in last week’s Southeastern Conference tournament.

Time was running out on the Bulldogs to finally win a postseason game. They trailed Louisville 5-2 through six innings.

Then came Beckham’s big homer.

“That just symbolized to everybody it was time to roll,” said Georgia leadoff hitter Ryan Peisel, who scored on the homer after one of his four hits.

“It was an avalanche. It just all was crashing down on them after that.”

The Bulldogs (36-22-1) took the lead with seven runs on eight hits in the seventh.

Beckham set a school record with his 24th homer of the season off Louisville closer B.J. Rosenberg to tie the game.

“All I’ve got to say was it came at a good time,” Beckham said, who said he may have been pressing to lead the comeback.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself. A lot of it is not needed, but I put it on myself because I want to help this team out. It’s that important to me.”

Stewart Ijames hit a two-run homer and Jeff Arnold added another homer in the ninth off Georgia closer Joshua Fields.

“We will be remembered for those homers in the bottom of the ninth,” said Louisville coach Dan McDonnell. “That’s our style. We play aggressive. We play hard.”

Georgia improved to 12-0 in NCAA tournament elimination games at Foley Field.

Georgia is 16-6 in the tournament at home, winning three regionals and two Super Regionals.

“We’ve got a lot of good history in elimination games,” said Georgia coach David Perno.

Georgia will play Sunday against the loser of Saturday night’s Georgia Tech-Lipscomb game.
Ryan Peisel and Matt Olson, who each had four hits for Georgia, led off the seventh with singles off reliever Zack Pitts.

For the second time in three innings, Louisville (41-21) made a pitching change to face Beckham, who lined the tying opposite-field homer to right off Rosenberg.

“We’ve just got a lot of respect for the guy,” McDonnell said of Beckham. “That’s why we went to B.J. there. We felt that was the game.”

Louisville answered with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Wunderlich reached base on a fielding error by Beckham and scored on Dao’s single.

Beckham broke a three-way tie in the Georgia records with Josh Morris (2006) and Andy Osbolt (1998) for the most homers in a season.




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