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Magill: Keppinger still among top hitters

It was especially pleasing for all Georgia Bulldog supporters to see Jeff Keppinger with the world champion San Francisco Giants in Atlanta this past week.

Unfortunately, though, he suffered an injury the second day.

The native Georgian (Parkview High in Gwinnett County) is considered one of the best hitters in the National League.

I well remember him hitting three homers to help Georgia qualify for the Super Regionals and eventually the College World Series 10 years ago (2001).

On Kudzu Hill, delirious fans pushed down the fence. The tournament’s MVP award winner, Keppinger was coaxed into taking many curtain calls.

Georgia athletic director Vince Dooley said it was one of the best individual performances he had ever seen.

Current Georgia head baseball coach David Perno was Georgia’s assistant coach then, and he vividly remembers the play. In fact, Perno recruited Keppinger.

At Georgia he was a utility infielder, mostly at shortstop.

In Georgia’s 8-7 win over Coastal Carolina in the NCAA Regionals, Keppinger hit three homers, his two-run blast with two out in the ninth inning winning the game 8-7. He was 5-for-5 with four RBIs.

Currently there are two other ex-Bulldogs in the big leagues. Mitchell Boggs is pitching with the St. Louis Cardinals and Gordon Beckham is an infielder with the Chicago White Sox. He was the Sporting News’ American League Rookie of the Year in 2009.

Georgia’s most famous big leaguer was Spurgeon Chandler, who pitched the New York Yankees to seven World Series titles. He also was a native Georgian (Carnesville).

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