ATHENS — After Trevor Holder’s 124th pitch, Georgia coach David Perno took a prudent approach with his No. 1 starter.
Holder was just one out from his first career complete game, but Perno was looking ahead and hoping for a third College World Series appearance in five years.
"Trevor pitched terrific for us all day and especially with the lead," Perno said. "It was big for us to get this win."
Holder pitched a career-high 8 2-3 innings, and Georgia’s offense was overpowering for the fifth straight game in an 11-4 NCAA Super Regional victory Friday over North Carolina State.
With a victory over the Wolfpack today, Georgia would win the best-of-three series and advance to the College World Series for the third time in five years.
The Bulldogs have a five-game winning streak since losing 10-7 to Lipscomb on May 30. Georgia has outscored opponents by a combined 38 runs since last Saturday.
Holder (8-4) allowed seven hits, three walks and four runs — two earned. The right-hander struck out five before Justin Earls pitched the last out.
For Perno, the decision was easy. Holder, who lowered his ERA 46 points to 4.14, couldn’t pitch in the Southeastern Conference tournament because of shoulder stiffness two weeks ago.
Despite winning the SEC regular season, the Bulldogs were swept out of the league tournament in losses to Mississippi and Alabama. Holder, however, believes he’d have no trouble starting a game next week in Omaha, Neb.
"We battled hard and got the lead and just kept it going," Holder said. "The defense made some terrific plays out there. There were a couple of double plays that were huge, a pitcher’s best friend."
Trailing 2-0 in the third, the Bulldogs scored four runs with two out on Matt Olson’s RBI single, Gordon Beckham’s two-run double and a Rich Poythress RBI single.
In the five-run sixth, N.C. State right fielder Matt Payne attempted to throw out Poythress at third on Bryce Massanari’s single. Payne was charged with an error when the ball bounced into foul territory, scoring Poythress and giving the Bulldogs a 5-2 lead.
Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent was upset that Georgia third base coach Jason Eller appeared to reach out and attempt keep Poythress from rounding the base before the ball bounced away.
According to Avent, Eller violated a rule by touching Poythress with the ball in play, but third base umpire Chris Coskey ignored N.C. State’s appeal.
Avent quickly conceded, though, that the Wolfpack could not blame the loss on one play.
"We gave up two big innings, which is unusual for our team," Avent said. "Olson’s hit was real big for them, and obviously they got a few more after that. But we played well, and I can’t wait to see how we do tomorrow."
Clayton Shunick (7-6) allowed eight hits, three walks and struck out six in 5 1-3 innings. The right-hander’s eight earned runs were the most in two years at N.C. State.
Despite giving up just two combined earned runs in his last three starts against Florida State, Clemson and South Carolina, Shunick was chased when Lyle Allen’s RBI double made it 7-2.
Lewis, the first batter that reliever Drew Taylor faced, hit a two-run homer that gave the Bulldogs a 9-2 lead.
Holder gave up solo homers in the third to Drew Martin and Ryan Pond, but he soon settled down despite a warning from home plate umpire Mike Coulin, who approached the mound in the fourth.
Seeing that Holder often licked his index and middle fingers before rubbing inside the red brim of his hat, Coulin wanted to ensure that the pitches were legal.
Pond saw no evidence that Holder was taking an unfair advantage.
"He made the pitches needed to make and mixed in some good off-speed stuff," Pond said. "We hit some balls hard today. They were just right at them, but he did well."
Nathan Moreau, who’s 4-2 with a 4.93 ERA, will start today for Georgia. The Wolfpack haven’t decided between left-handers Alex Sogard (4-2, 4.10 ERA) and Eric Surkamp (5-2, 4.28).