Late run lifts Kennesaw State past struggling Georgia

Kennesaw State 2, Georgia 1

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ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia’s start-of-the-season batting slump stretched a little longer than it had hoped. But it doesn’t want to panic just yet.

The Bulldogs’ offense sputtered and Kennesaw State scored a late-inning 2-1 win on Wednesday at Foley Field. Georgia has scored six runs in its past 34 innings and lost three consecutive games.

“We didn’t look so hot tonight,” Georgia senior Kyle Farmer said. “We played alright. We got as many hits as they did, I guess you could say. It just didn’t fall our way. But that’s how baseball works, and you just have to push through it.”

Georgia (1-3) will get an extra day off after the start of the weekend series with Belmont was moved back a day because of expected bad weather in Athens. Georgia and Belmont will play a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. Saturday. Sunday’s game is scheduled to start at 2 p.m..

Georgia had four hits and one run in the home opener and has not scored more than two runs in a game since getting six in the season-opening win against Georgia Southern last Friday.

“You’ve got to give some credit to some of these other teams,” Georgia coach David Perno said. “Tonight, we didn’t chase bad pitches. They were throwing a lot of strikes. That’s one area where we’ve to give ourselves a few more chances by drawing more walks. Hunter (Cole) had a good one in the last inning and hopefully a sign of what’s to come. But we’re just not turning the lineup over enough to create more opportunities for some clutch hits. But we’re hitting balls hard, but they’re getting caught. That evens out.”

Kennesaw State’s go-ahead run came on a fielder’s choice by Kal Simmons that brought home Andy Almonte for a 2-1 lead in the ninth. Simmons grounded to Georgia shortstop Kyle Farmer, who threw to second baseman Nelson Ward. But Kody Belcher, who was running from first base, beat the ball to second and allowed Almonte to score the game-winner.

“I don’t want to throw anybody under the bus,” Farmer said. “It was a tough play, and it was a read play, but I should have thrown it to first.”

Georgia used five pitchers in the game – starter David Gonzalez, Blake Dieterich, Bryan Benzor, Jarrett Brown and Jared Walsh (0-1). The Bulldogs combined to allow four hits and two earned runs.

Kennesaw State’s Justin McCalvin (1-0) earned the win while James Connell picked up his first save. Catcher Max Pentecost brought home the first run for Kennesaw State (4-0) with a fourth-inning RBI single.

“It’s tough especially after how hard we worked in the off-season,” Dieterich said. “The first four games don’t really mean much of anything. Of course we’d like to be playing better, but I think we’ll get it done.”

Georgia’s lone run came after J.T. Phillips got a leadoff single and scored on a two-out double by Farmer. Georgia did not advance another runner past second the rest of the game.

“It’s coming,” Perno said. “We’ve got to give these guys a couple of more weeks. If we’re still slugging out four hits a game and scoring one or two runs, then we’ve got problems. But not right now.”


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