Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Kennesaw State's third baseman Justin McCalvin (9) can't tag Georgia's Nelson Ward (2) in time during the bottom of the ninth of the Gwinnett Baseball Classic at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville on Tuesday. Ward went on to score the game winning run, Georgia defeated Kennesaw State 3-2.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- The crowds haven't been large, but Georgia Bulldogs have found a home away from home at Coolray Field.
Kyle Farmer delivered a bases-loaded walk-off hit as the Bulldogs scored an unearned run in the ninth inning to defeat Kennesaw State 3-2 in the second Gwinnett Baseball Classic before a chilled gathering of 782 Tuesday night.
Farmer, who was 2-for-4 with a double, lined a shot over third base on a 2-and-1 pitch with one out to score pinch-runner Nelson Ward and touch off a Bulldogs celebration.
Georgia had won the first Gwinnett Baseball Classic in less dramatic fashion with a 6-3 victory over Alabama before an announced crowd of a little more than 2,000 in the benefit event for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
Blake Dieterich got the win in that game in relief of Brookwood graduate Chase Hawkins and was the beneficiary of the last-inning dramatics this time after walking in a run in the seventh inning.
"This is a great place and we have definitely had a lot of fun the last couple of years," Georgia coach David Perno said. "Maybe we put it later in the year when the weather is better next season and draw a bigger crowd."
No. 9-ranked Georgia (11-2) was out-hit 7-6, but scored two unearned runs to hand KSU (5-7) the disappointing loss.
Wesleyan graduate Kevin Ruiz reached leading off the bottom of the ninth inning as a pinch-hitter thanks to an error by Owls third baseman Aaron Dobbs. After a sacrifice, Curt Powell was walked intentionally and a wild pitch set up another intentional walk, this one to Conor Welton.
James Connell replaced Zak Griffith and Farmer came through for the Bulldogs.
KSU took the 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh inning on a two-out bases-loaded walk. But Georgia tied it in the bottom of the frame on Wesleyan graduate Welton's one-out double after a leadoff single by Peter Verdin.
Georgia got an unearned run in the first inning as Welton reached on an error, took third on a double and scored on a long sacrifice fly by Levi Hyams.
But KSU got the run back in the second. Brookwood graduate Ronnie Freeman, who had a school-record 42-game hitting streak last season, singled, moved to third on Andy Chriscaden's perfect hit-and-run and scored on a sacrifice fly by Chris McGowan, from Collins Hill.
The Owls threatened to take the lead in the sixth after back-to-back one-out hits, but Freeman rapped into a rally-killing double play. Georgia didn't get its second hit until the bottom of the sixth when Hunter Cole reached on a leadoff infield single.
Max Pentacost had a two-out infield hit for KSU in the seventh and came around to score on three consecutive walks to three different Georgia pitchers. Dieterich came in with the bases loaded and walked Dodds on five pitches.
But the left-hander didn't allow another base runner and struck out three in his 2 innings while improving to 3-0 thanks to Farmer's hit.
"He has a knack for getting tough outs," Perno said.
Dieterich, projected to be a starter, is filling in as the Georgia closer with Norcross graduate Tyler Maloof sidelined. Maloof was third in the nation with 18 saves a year ago.
Jared Walsh, a freshman from Peachtree Ridge, was Georgia's DH to start the game against KSU and went 0-for-2 before being replaced.
Proceeds benefited Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's Aflac Cancer Center and in particular the Kasyn Cares Fund. Leukemia patient Kasyn Olivadotti, the 5-year-old daughter of Georgia linebacker coach Kirk Olivadotti, tossed out the ceremonial first pitch.