ATHENS, GA – For the third time in the past five years, the Georgia Bulldogs are heading back to the College World Series. The seventh-ranked Bulldogs plated nine runs in the first inning and never looked back, crushing 15th-ranked N.C. State 17-8 to win the Athens Super Regional in front of 3,512 Sunday at Foley Field.
Georgia advances to the CWS for the sixth time in program history and the third time under head coach David Perno. The SEC Champion Bulldogs’ first game at Rosenblatt Stadium in the eight-team double-elimination field will be against either No. 1 national seed Miami or Arizona.
“Today was an emotional day from the standpoint of win or lose it would be the last day for a lot of really talented players playing for the last time here at Foley,” Georgia head coach David Perno said. “We answered the bell. Last week we were in the same situation and won four games. I was anxious today and just waiting to play. It shows the confidence and the focus of our team. They showed me early on that we were going to be tough to beat. “We are in a special place. This team has been around and been through it all. Look at last season when we were 23-33 and we come back and are SEC Champions and going back to Omaha. We have great kids here and they are champions. We have great leadership and we just showed that we were not going to be denied.”
The Bulldogs (41-23-1) improved to 16-0 in NCAA elimination games at Foley Field.
Senior Nick Montgomery (4-2), who pitched a complete game shutout against Georgia Tech last week in the Athens Regional, allowed just three runs on four hits in six innings to pick up the win.
Junior All-America Gordon Beckham went 3-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI for the Bulldogs. In his final two at bats, he hit home runs to tie the Bulldog career record now with 51. Ryan Peisel and Rich Poythress also had three hits, and Bryce Massanari, Matt Cerione and Lyle Allen chipped in with two hits apiece.
Georgia took control early with a nine-run first. The Bulldogs quickly loaded the bases with no outs, and a walk to Poythress followed by a two-run single by Massanari gave Georgia a 3-0 lead. Seven different Bulldogs had at least one hit in the inning including Peisel with two. Poythress, Massanari and Allen all drove in two runs in the inning that saw the Wolfpack use three different pitchers.
A pair of N.C. State home runs in the top of the sixth including a solo shot by Dallas Poulk and a two-run homer by Jeremy Synan cut Georgia’s lead to 9-3.
The Bulldogs, however, got all three runs back in the bottom of the inning. Beckham hit his 25th home run of the season to make it 10-3. It was also his 100th hit of the season, joining Joey Side, (111 in 2006), Chaz Lytle (108 in 2002) and Jeff Kepinger (102 in 2001) as the only Bulldogs to record 100 hits in a season.
Four batters later, Lewis blasted a two-run homer to right field to once again give Georgia a nine-run cushion. It marked the second time in the Super Regional that Lewis delivered a pinch-hit two-run home run.
Five more Bulldogs crossed the plate in the seventh behind three home runs. Peisel started the inning with a solo shot, then Beckham tied the school record with his 51st career home run, a two-run blast to right. It was Beckham’s seventh career multi-home run game and sixth this season. Massanari capped the inning with another two-run homer to push the Georgia lead to 17-3.
The Wolfpack (42-22) scored three in the eighth and two more in the ninth for the final margin. Georgia senior All-America Joshua Fields came on for the final three outs.
Synan went 3-for-4 with a home run, a double and drove in three runs for while Poulk added a pair of hits for N.C. State. Eric Surkamp (5-3) was pulled after just five batters and took the loss.
“I just want to congratulate Georgia,” N.C. State coach Elliott Avent said. “They have a tremendous staff and players and it is great that they are reaching their final destination in Omaha. I want to congratulate our staff and players too. We have some great seniors and we had a great year.”