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Bulldogs use team effort to top Tech, stop streak

ATHENS -- It probably wasn't quite as lopsided as the players or the majority of the Foley Field crowd of 3,004 would have liked.

But as revenge goes, Tuesday night's 7-1 win over archrival and No. 14 Georgia Tech suited Georgia's 17th-ranked baseball team and its fans just fine, thank you.

The Yellow Jackets had won their last four regular-season trips into Foley Field by a combined score of 61-19.

But Tuesday, six Bulldogs pitchers held the Tech bats in check, limiting the Jackets to just eight hits and a single run and striking out 11 hitters.

Meanwhile, Georgia (16-6) made the most of their nine hits on the evening, with Wesleyan grad Conor Welton and Curt Powell each driving in two runs and seven different Bulldogs getting hits.

"I've only been here for two years now, but last year, they definitely handed it to us," Welton said, referring to Tech's last two trips to Foley Field in which the Yellow Jackets won by scores of 25-6 and 15-6. "Then, the last one (last year) we won at Turner Field, so we wanted to turn it around this year and keep the streak going."

It was the perfect example of a team win that had Bulldogs coach Dave Perno smiling afterwards.

"In all areas, I thought that was probably our best game (of the season)," Perno said. "From a pitching side of it, you throw six different guys, (and) they all do really well. You commit no errors, you make some great plays (in the field). You put two big innings together (at the plate), and that's a good formula."

The formula began to take shape with David Sosebee (2-0) setting the stage by limiting Tech to just one hit and a walk with a strikeout in the opening three innings.

The offensive part of the formula began to emerge in the bottom of the second, when Brett DeLoach launched a 2-2 pitch from Zane Evans (0-1) deep over the wall in left-center for a solo homer to stake Georgia to an early 1-0 lead.

And the Bulldogs added to that lead playing station-to-station baseball and taking advantage of shaky Tech defense.

With Hunter Cole on first with one out, Wesleyan grad Kevin Ruiz sent what looked like a routine pop up to straightaway center.

But Kyle Wren initially broke back on the ball, and couldn't recover before the ball dropped for a bloop single.

Another pop-fly single by Brandon Stephens loaded the bases and an error by Sam Dove on Curt Powell's grounder to short extended the Georgia lead to 2-0.

Two batters later, Welton lined a two-run single to center to bring home Ruiz and Stephens, and before the inning was over, nine men had come to the plate, and the Bulldogs had a 4-0 lead.

"Levi (Hymes) had just hit a curveball pretty hard," Welton said. "I just wanted to jump on that first-pitch fastball. They put up a little fight after that, and they scored a run after that, but we shut them down after that."

Indeed, after Brookwood grad Chase Hawkins and Alex Wood kept Tech off the board in the fourth and fifth, the Jackets threatened to get back into the game in the sixth.

Wren drew a leadoff walk and went to second on Brandon Thomas' single before coming home on Jake Davies' RBI single to left, pulling the Jackets to within 4-1 with two runners on and nobody out.

But right-hander Pete Nagel came out of the bullpen and got help from himself and his defense on a key play.

The baserunners took off on a 3-2 pitch that Evans swung and missed on. Instead of going after the lead runner, Stephens threw a strike to second to cut down Davies for a strikeout-throw out double play.

Nagel then got Daniel Palka to ground out to second to end the inning and keep the Bulldogs' lead at three runs.

"We were betting on Zane to make contact there," Tech coach Danny Hall said. "I think he swung at ball four. We could've been sitting there with the bases loaded and nobody out. Instead, they get a double play on one pitch. We took them right off the hook.

"(Georgia's pitchers) definitely kept us off balance. We struck out too much. We had a hard time putting the ball in play. I think over and above the bats, we had some miscues on defense. They had two big innings, and in both those big innings, muffed (some plays). ... We gave them two big innings. So, as bad as we were on offense, our defense is really what did us in."

Georgia then regained momentum with that second big rally in the bottom of the inning.

Powell drove in a run with a single and the Bulldogs cashed in on Winn's throwing error and a wild pitch by Alex Cruz to stretch their lead to 7-1.

Tech tried again to rally in the seventh, with Dove leading off with a single and Mitch Earnest following with a walk.

But Nagel bore down and struck out Mott Hyde, pinch-hitter Paul Kronenfeld and Wren to keep the Georgia lead at six runs.

And the Bulldogs wrapped up the win to take the opener of the three-game season series with the Jackets, which continues April 24 with the annual game at Turner Field.

"These older guys hadn't had a whole lot of success against these guys," Perno said of Tech, which had won five of the last six games with Georgia before Tuesday night. "It was good to kind of get the series started off right. We've still got a lot of games with them, and potentially even more in the postseason. So, you never know.

"No question. It's a big series. It's very important games -- not just Georgia-Georgia Tech, but we're talking postseason implications and potentially host (in the NCAA regionals or super regionals) situations. So, there's a lot at stake in this series."