CWS, Day 10: Fresno blinks, Georgia one game from title

THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES:
CWS08-OnlyBeOne.jpg

After struggling through injuries and back-to-back games, you just got the feeling that there were only so many quality throws from the mound that Fresno had in them tonight. In the eighth inning, that proved true as the well ran dry.

For the third time in the CWS, Georgia made another comeback win a reality. The never-say-die Junkyard Dogs plated four runs in the bottom of the 8th to counter the three runs FSU had scored a half-inning earlier to pull out a W in game one of the championship series.

- Conditions at game time:
78 degrees, 42% humidity, Winds from the East at 10mph


- Linescore:
Fresno - 001 020 030 - 6 7 0
Georgia- 100 100 04x - 7 10 1

WP: Will Harvil (2-1)
LP: Brandon Burke (4-6)
Save: Joshua Fields (18)

Top Hitters-
FSU:
Steve Susdorf: 2-for-4, 1RBI. 2B, 3B
Steve Detwiler: 2-for-3, 3RBI, HR

UGa:
Gordon Beckham: 2-for-4, 2RBI, HR
Matt Cerione: 2-for-3, 2RBI, 2B
Joey Lewis: 2-for-4, 2RBI,

CWS08-PernoInDugout.jpg
(Coach Dave Perno is pushing all the right buttons as his 'Dogs are 27 outs away from a national title)

Both teams had a stare down and Fresno was the last to blink.

The cardiac Dawgs of Georgia pieced together a quadrant of runs in the 8th inning and Fresno had no answer for fireballing reliever Joshua Fields in the 9th as UGa gets the drop on game one, needing just one more win to secure its second national title.

The Southern Dawgs struck first with immediacy as leadoff man Ryan Peisel kept his piping-hot CWS streak alive, cranking out a double to the gap. Three batters later Rich Poythress brought him home with an RBI single.

Fresno countered Georgia with big blasts from the bottom of their lineup as nine-hole hitter Jordan Ribera sent a 3rd inning ball beyond the wall to tie things at one apiece. But the Earth shook when eight-hole hitter Steve Detwiler crushed a two-run yard call deep to Dingerville in the 5th to give FSU a 3-2 lead.

UGa piece-mealed single runs in the 4th and 6th, both with two out in the frames. No. 7 hitter Joey Lewis knocked in Bryce Massanari with an RBI single and two innings later Matt Cerione, coming off a terrible five K performance on Saturday, singled home Poythress to tie the game.

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(Matt Cerione put his recent struggles behind him, going 2-for-3 and scoring the winning run tonight)

Georgia starter Trevor Holder was pulled at the beginning of the 8th inning and that's when the real trouble started. Six-foot-six hurler Alex McCree came in and struggled from the first pitch. The batters he faced went:
- Walk
- Double, RBI
- Hard-hit line-out to SS, Double Play
- Home Run
- Hit batsman

Justin Earls relieved McCree and immediately gave up an RBI double to the suddenly hot Steve Detwiler. The inning ended a batter later, but the damage had been done.

Georgia punched back without flinching as All American SS Gordon Beckham greeted the second pitch of Brandon Burke's tenure on the mound with a slicing home run that drove in a pair. A walk and a flyout followed, then Cerione came through again, this time sending Poythress around the bases with a double that hugged the left field line.

That proved to be enough to pull out the win, as Josh Fields added his 18th save of the season with a three-up, three-down 9th inning. Unlike the Stanford game, there were no theatrics involved. No fuss, no muss, nobody reached 1st base.

In other words, ballgame.

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NOTES---

- Rag Arms.
Talking to some of the Fresno beat writers before the game, their consensus was the same: the Bulldogs barely have any arms left on the staff to win this thing. Getting No. 2 pitcher Clayton Allison back to win last night's Carolina game was huge. But there's not much chance he'll be effective enough to help here. No. 1 starter Justin Wilson threw on Saturday, so his availability will probably be limited as well.

Today's starter, Sean Bonesteele (cool name) was making just his fourth start of the season and lasted only three innings, giving up just two hits and a single run. Brandon Burke came on in the 8th inning, but just couldn't hold the dam burst. The Silver Britches scored four runs in the 8th, three off of Burke, to ice the game.

- Getting the jump.
I thought that if Fresno had any chance at all, getting on top of Georgia would be of paramount importance. But it was the Junkyard Dogs that got the first run of the game on Rich Poythress' RBI single. Fresno fought back to take a 6-3 lead after 7.5 innings, but what they didn't have was enough fresh arms to clamp down that potent Georgia offense in the bottom of the 8th.

- Squandering opportunities.
Fresno wasn't without its chances early on, as they got men in scoring position in both the first and second innings, but couldn't get a foot to tap the plate in either frame. They also squandered a pair of base-runners in the 6th inning.

- Seven minute delay.
When Trevor Holder took a Danny Muno shot off his shin (which just sounds painful to write), his recovery time took seven minutes. He tried throwing twice before finally being able to actually release a ball.

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(Trevor Holder took a stinging line-drive off the shin early in the game but hung tough to throw seven innings of four-hit ball)


- Finally a "short" game
For the first time in this year's CWS we got to experience a relatively short game as the time elapsed was just 2:55. It marks the first time all week that a game went less than three hours.


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POST-GAME QUOTES---
I have to admit, I was down on the field shooting a video segment with Doug Kroll after the game, so I didn't hear any of the comments from FSU's Mike Batesole in the post-game press conference. But here are some Georgia quotes you might find interesting.

Georgia coach Dave Perno's opening statement:
It was a great college baseball game, fortunately we've got Gordon (Beckham) and Josh (Fields) in our dugout and in big games it's good to get big performances from those guys.

Coach Perno on coming back despite being down three runs in the 8th:
That ' s how you find out about people. Not when things are going well, but when things are going wrong. That's how our team has done all year, coming through as they did.

Gordon Beckham, on his home run in the 8th:
It jump-started us. It got us going a little bit and we got guys like Cerione and Lewis coming through for us behind me, so I'm real proud of them.

Coach Perno discussing Gordon Beckham, his star attraction:
He's a pretty special player, he's called a bunch of shots during his career. Guys were on him, asking him "When you gonna hit another home run?" And he just said, "When we need it most." And that's exactly what he did.

Josh Fields on his recent struggles:
I tried not to think too much. it just seemed like I thought too much in my previous outings up here. I just got back to what was working. Last year really helped me with that because it seemed like every outing there was something going wrong. I just stayed focused on what was positive for me.

Coach Perno on Trevor Holder staying in the game despite the line-drive to the leg in the 3rd inning:
To take that shot off the shin and come back from that was huge. He pitched like he was in mid-season form. It was good on our bullpen and we're fresh now. It was so early in the game, if he couldn't go, we could pull him at that time and save him for Wednesday. It wasn't a panic situation, he just needed a little bit of time to work through it.

Game two is less than 20 hours away. Only question is, does that mean the 2008 college baseball season less than 23 hours away? If you ask me right now and point a gun to my head, my answer is, "Yes. Georgia will win in two."

But keep in mind the mental toughness of this Fresno team. It's like Cold War tough.

There will be much more tomorrow.

G'night.

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Eric Sorenson Eric Sorenson
Eric Sorenson is CSTV.com's National Baseball Columnist, and also appears on CSTV as a baseball expert