Cardinal 3, (8) Bulldogs 4



7:00 PM ET
June 16, 2008

Georgia beats Stanford to take control of CWS bracket

Updated: June 17, 2008, 1:07 AM ET

OMAHA, Neb. -- Georgia has taken control of its bracket at the College World Series.

What a relief for the Bulldogs.

Actually, what a group of relief pitchers.

Georgia's bullpen turned in a second straight dominating performance at the CWS, this time allowing Stanford one single and four other baserunners in six shutout innings in Monday night's 4-3 victory over the Cardinal.

Matt Cerione produced the winning run with his two-out, bases-loaded single in the seventh inning.

After Stanford scored all its runs in the third inning against starter Nick Montgomery, Stephen Dodson and Alex McRee held things together on the mound while Georgia tried to solve Stanford's Jeffrey Inman and Austin Yount. Once the Bulldogs got the lead, they turned the game over to dependable closer Joshua Fields.

"When you stop a team like that and you give us a chance to get our offense going, we have enough weapons in our lineup that we're eventually going to break through and score," Georgia coach David Perno said. "If they [Stanford] only score in one frame, we're going to have a lot of success."

McRee (7-1) got the win after striking out two in 1 1/3 innings, and Fields earned his 17th save for working the ninth.

Now the Bulldogs (43-23-1) will wait until Friday to play the winner of Wednesday's Miami-Stanford game. A win in that game would send Georgia out of Bracket 1 and into the best-of-three championship round that begins next Monday.

The Bulldogs, who fought off elimination five times in the NCAA tournament, have come from behind in the late innings for its CWS wins over Miami and Stanford.

"This is exactly the way we wanted to do it," shortstop Gordon Beckham said. "We usually do it the hard way through the regional and super regional. We started off really well right here. We're 2-0 and have a little time off, so we can rest and recuperate and just get ready for Friday. It's just a tribute to this team, how hard we played these last two games."

The long rest allows Perno to rest a relief corps that has pitched 11 of Georgia's 17 innings at the CWS. Dodson, McRee, Fields and Dean Weaver, who pitched an inning in Saturday's 7-4 win over Miami, have combined to allow one run and four hits in Omaha.

"It's been like this all year," Perno said. "They change the momentum of the game because they have good, quick innings, they make big pitches, they get the tough outs."

There was no shortage of drama, though. After Fields hit Toby Gerhart with a pitch and walked Yount with one out, he got Colin Walsh to ground into a double play to end the first game between the teams since the 1992 CWS.

Georgia started cutting into a 3-1 deficit in the sixth. Stanford's Inman walked the bases loaded and was relieved by Yount (6-4), who walked pinch-hitter Robbie O'Bryan on four straight pitches to force in a run.

The Bulldogs rallied for two runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to take the lead, and they were within inches of scoring more.

Beckham singled and Rich Poythress walked before Bryce Massanari drove Yount's 2-1 pitch high into the right-field corner. The ball hit the top corner of the wall, just barely outside the foul pole, ever so close to being a three-run homer.

Yount hit Massanari with the next pitch, loading the bases, and Cerione followed with a single up the middle for the tying and go-ahead runs.

The Cardinal used Zach Jones' triple, Joey August's double and Jason Castro's 14th homer of the season to go up 3-0 in the third.

That was about all for the night offensively for Stanford.

The Cardinal has shown the ability to bounce back from a loss in the second game of the CWS. In 2003, the Cardinal lost to Cal State Fullerton and then won three elimination games in three days to reach the championship series, where they lost to Rice in three games.

"Yeah, it's more difficult," Stanford coach Mark Marquess said. "You can't think way too far ahead. You have to think of the next one here. If you look at how difficult it may be, it becomes almost impossible in your mind."

The new format this year is less hectic. Stanford gets a day off before playing Miami, and if it wins that game, would get another day off before playing Friday. Another win would be required Saturday. Sunday is an off day before the championship series starts Monday.

"The number of games isn't going to bother us," Marquess said. "There's enough rest in between to where it's doable."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press