For the first month of the season, Georgia slumped its way through three consecutive midweek losses.
But the Bulldogs finally put good pitching and explosive hitting together at the same time to beat Appalachian State 9-4 on Tuesday at Foley Field.
“You’ve got to just keep grinding through the process,” Georgia catcher-designated hitter Brett DeLoach said. “You’ve got to keep hitting balls hard and they’re going to find holes. Our offense the past few games has come up with some big innings. It was good to see it late in this game. The football team always preaches, ‘finish the drill, finish the drill.’ Finishing the drill for us is the last three innings of the game. That’s when we always want to outscore our opponents. That’s what we did.”
Georgia (8-8) plays Appalachian State (8-5) in the second game of the two-day spring break series starting at 5 p.m. at Foley Field on Wednesday. Georgia is scheduled to start right-hander Austin Wallace (0-0, 0.00). Appalachian State has not announced a starter. Georgia had lost all three of its midweek games until Tuesday.
“It was solid,” Georgia coach David Perno said. “It wasn’t a great start but it was a much better start than we had in previous midweek games. We were solid. Our pitching was good all the way through. We kept them out of big innings. We were a little slow going at first. We couldn’t get a timely hit but we got it in the seventh and that’s what we needed.”
Georgia trailed most of the first half of the game but exploded for five runs with two outs in the seventh. Freshman Daniel Nichols figured heavily into the rally with an RBI single to score Curt Powell and tied the game 3-3. Then, he may or may not have run through a stop sign from third base coach Allen Osborne to score the go-ahead run.
“I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit,” Nichols said of his RBI single. “I knew he (Appalachian State pitcher (Ryne Frankoff) was going to try to get ahead of me. I knew he was going to try to throw a fastball, and he had to come in there. I was just going to try to react to it and hit it.”
Nichols took second base when a wild pitch squirted away from Appalachian State catcher Josh Zumbrook and scored on a single by Brett DeLoach. Nichols said that Osborne might have signaled him to stop but his voice said to go, and Osborne’s voice takes precedence over his hand signals. However, Perno said that Nichols ran through the stop sign and was right to do it.
“Sometimes players have to pick up coaches when you make bad decisions,” Perno said. “He (Nichols) did too many good things. He got the big hit to tie the game. Then he moved up on a dirt ball. Brett battles and battles, gets to two strikes. You can’t put a stop sign up with the go-ahead run in the seventh inning, so he picked up Coach Oz (Osborne) tonight and that’s good to see.”
D.J. Smith hit a two-run single and Nelson Ward added a one-run single to give Georgia a 7-3 lead going into the eighth. Georgia put the game away in the eighth when DeLoach smashed a two-run home run.
“One of the big things that we’ve been focusing on is scoring runs with two outs because that breaks other teams’ backs,” DeLoach said. “When know when other teams score runs with two outs it just kills. That’s one of the processes we’ve been focusing on and it worked tonight. We’ve got to keep getting better at it.”
Blake Dieterich (1-0) pitched two shutout innings to pick up the win, allowing two hits with two strikeouts and no walks. Powell had three hits and scored twice. DeLoach was 2-for-5 with three RBIs, including a home run. Justin Bryan had a solo home run and drew a walk and a hit batsman.
Frankoff (0-1) allowed three hits and four runs to take the loss for Appalachian State. Preston Troutman had two hits, including a home run. Preston Tiller and Hector Crespo each had two hits.