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Georgia blanks Jackets, forces deciding game Monday night
Georgia pitcher Nick Montgomery throws in the ninth inning en route to a complete-game, 8-0 win over Georgia Tech in the NCAA baseball regional Sunday at Foley Field in Athens. - photo by TREVOR FREY | Athens Banner-Herald

ATHENS - David Perno didn’t have to look for advice when making his decision to send Nick Montgomery back to the mound for the ninth inning.

Everybody else in the Georgia dugout already had the answer for the coach.

"Everybody was saying it, ‘Don’t go to that bullpen!’" Perno said, and so he didn’t.

Montgomery, making only his third career start, completed a rare four-hit shutout to lead Georgia past Georgia Tech 8-0 on Sunday night in the NCAA regional.

Georgia avoided elimination to force a final game against Georgia Tech tonight, with the winner advancing to a Super Regional.

Georgia (38-22-1) shut out Georgia Tech (41-20) for the first time since May 14, 1969 — a string of 126 games.

Matt Olson, Matt Cerione and Rich Poythress hit two-run homers, but the star was Montgomery, who beat the Yellow Jackets for the second time in three weeks.

Montgomery spent most of the season in the bullpen before making his first start in a 3-2 win over Georgia Tech on May 13 at Turner Field. That start provided only a hint for Montgomery’s dominant performance in the regional.

Montgomery stranded runners on second and third in the third inning by striking out Jeff Rowland. The strikeout started a string of 17 straight batters retired by Montgomery before Charlie Blackmon singled with one out in the ninth.

Montgomery, a senior right-hander, retired the next two batters.

Montgomery (3-2) recorded Georgia’s first complete game of the season and the team’s first complete-game shutout since June 3, 2006, when Mickey Westphal took an 11-0 win over Sacred Heart, also in an Athens regional.

The Bulldogs crushed Lipscomb 14-3 earlier Sunday and had to beat Georgia Tech to force today’s game.

Georgia Tech could have clinched the regional by winning Sunday night, prompting Blackmon to suggest the Yellow Jackets "just kind of stayed flat."

"We just didn’t fight back," Blackmon said.

Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall had a
different assessment.

"I didn’t think that we were flat; I just think Nick Montgomery was that good," Hall said.

Perno said Montgomery has "vaulted himself" to one of Georgia’s top three starting spots if the Bulldogs advance to a Super Regional.

Montgomery, who struck out nine and walked only one batter, had difficulty
explaining his success.

"I just felt comfortable," said Montgomery, a senior. "I was able to control all my pitches."

Added Georgia catcher Bryce Massanari: "He was just ahead of everybody with his fastball. He spotted his curveball, and that made his fastball look that much better."

Poythress, who hit a three-run homer and drove in five runs in Georgia’s 14-3 rout of Lipscomb earlier Sunday, crushed another homer into the trees behind the left-field wall in the seventh inning.

Georgia, which lost to Lipscomb in its regional opener on Friday, has recovered with three straight wins on its home field.

Following the win over Georgia Tech at Turner Field last month, Montgomery gave up three runs in four innings in his only other start, a first-round loss to Mississippi in the Southeastern Conference tournament.

Eddie Burns (7-5) gave up 11 hits, including three homers, and eight runs in 6 2-3 innings.

The Georgia Tech-Georgia matchup was much-anticipated when the regional pairings were announced. The Bulldogs’ win evened the season series at 2-2; Georgia Tech won on each team’s campus before Montgomery led Georgia to the win at Turner Field.

If Georgia beats Georgia Tech again tonight, it will play host to a Super Regional as it tries to advance to its sixth College World Series. It won the 1990 national championship.

Georgia Tech is trying to qualify for its fourth College World Series.

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