“It was not an easy game against a good foe,” said Georgia head coach Ron Polk. “I told (Florida State Coach) Mike (Martin) after the game that I am glad we won, but that I am sad when an error determines a ballgame. That is tough.”
The Bulldogs (46-19) jumped out to the early 1-0 lead when Andy Neufeld and David Coffey led off the contest with back-to-back doubles. FSU starter Blair Varnes put out the first-inning fire, retiring the next three batters, but the Dogs added another run in the fifth on a Neufeld RBI groundout.
Florida State (46-18) figured out Bulldog starter Jeremy Brown in the sixth to tie the game with two runs on three hits. Georgia answered with a three spot in the bottom half of the sixth, giving the Dogs a 5-2 lead. In the eighth, the Seminoles added their own three-run inning, highlighted by a Nick Rogers two-out, two-run blast to centerfield. The Bulldogs got one back in the bottom half of the eighth and the game entered the ninth inning with Georgia on top 6-5.
The Seminoles led off the top of the ninth with back-to-back doubles by Karl Jernigan and Jeff Probst and used a sacrifice fly by Ryan Barthelemy to take a 7-6 lead. Adam Swann reached in Georgia’s ninth inning on a one-out double and scored on Blake Bodenmiller’s pinch-hit double. The Bulldogs failed to score pinch runner Lee Mitchell from second and the Foley Field record crowd of 4,290 was treated to free baseball.
Jody Friedman (4-2), who entered for Georgia with no outs in the ninth, issued a leadoff walk in the 10th, but Burchett gunned down Florida State’s Rogers attempting to steal second for the first out of the inning. Friedman retired the next two batters.
In the bottom of the 10th, Neufeld reached base on a one-out walk by Seminole pitcher Justin Lord (2-3) and stole second on Matt Cavender’s strikeout. Lord intentionally walked Jeff Keppinger, which gave Swann a chance to win the game for the Bulldogs. Swann drilled a 2-2 pitch to third baseman Scott Toole, but the hard-hit ball deflected off of Toole and into leftfield, allowing Neufeld to cross the plate for the winning run.
The win was Georgia’s 16th last at bat win of the season and third of the NCAA tournament. It also extended the Dogs’ current winning streak to five games.
Georgia and Florida State will meet tomorrow at 2 p.m. for game two of the Athens Super Regional. If necessary, game three of the series will be played on Monday at 3 p.m. at Foley Field.