Originally created 06/03/01

Diamond Dogs one win away from College World Series



ATHENS, Ga. - Ron Polk doesn't know the answer.

Right fielder Adam Swann can only shrug his shoulders.

Whatever the reason for Georgia's late-inning magic this memorable spring, the Diamond Dogs don't appear to be losing their touch, not after scoring a run in the bottom of the 10th Saturday to beat Florida State 8-7 in Game 1 of the Super Regionals at Foley Field.

By winning the first game in the best-of-three series, Georgia is one victory away from advancing to its third College World Series, which begins next Saturday in Omaha, Neb.

The Diamond Dogs can earn the trip with a win this afternoon. Game time is 2 p.m.

"I'm almost getting tired of answering that question, but it's a good one, so I guess I'm happy to answer it," Polk said. "I guess that means we're playing a lot of close games."

The victory was the Diamond Dogs' 16th in their last at-bat this year, 10th of the walk-off variety.

"We'd much rather keep the lead and have a 1-2-3 ninth," second baseman Jody Pollock said. "But when things happen, we're able to hold our heads high and not give up."

Georgia's effort Saturday was typical of the ones in its comeback string.

After tying the game in the bottom of ninth on a pinch-hit double by Blake Bodenmiller, the Diamond Dogs (46-19) won it in the 10th against closer Justin Lord (2-3). Swann grounded a 2-2 pitch to third baseman Scott Toole, who had entered the game as a defensive replacement to start the bottom of the ninth. But Toole booted the roller and allowed Andy Neufeld to score the deciding run from second as the record crowd of 4,290 erupted into celebration.

"I'm glad that we won, but I feel kind of bad for a kid when errors decide the ballgame," Polk said. "He's a kid, he tried to make the play. I'm sure he makes that play most of the time."

Swann's opportunity came after Florida State coach Mike Martin had Lord intentionally walk Jeff Keppinger, despite the fact that the shortstop was 0-for-5.

"It entered my mind (pitching to Keppinger), but Mama didn't raise an idiot," Martin said. "You look at his numbers and say there's some dynamite sitting right over there, let's don't light that."

The loss ruined an impressive comeback by the Seminoles (46-18), who trailed 5-2 until they scored three runs in the eighth and two in the ninth off closer Jeffery Carswell.

A two-run homer by right fielder Nick Rogers tied the game at 5-5 before an RBI double by Jeff Probst and a sacrifice fly by Ryan Barthelemy negated a Georgia run in the eighth and helped Florida State take a 7-6 lead heading into the ninth.

Swann's one-out double kept Georgia's hopes alive in the inning's bottom half before Bodenmiller drove home the former Madison County star for the tying run.

"We knew Georgia had a history of coming back, but we obviously were where we wanted to be," Martin said. "I thought Swann's at-bat was huge, impressive. That was a key double for him."

"We've been lucky at times, good at times and other times teams have given us the ballgame," Polk said. "We've been good enough to stay close, and whenever you do that, it gives you a chance to win."

The same can be said for Georgia starter Jeremy Brown.

Brown gave up two runs, six hits, walked one and struck out six over 5 2/3 innings.

Seminole starter Blair Varnes gave up five runs in 5 1/3 innings before Martin used five relievers the rest of the way.

Georgia outhit Florida State 15-11, getting six hits from the bottom-third of its order - former Greenbrier standout Mark Thornhill (1-for-4), Tony Burchett (3-for-5) and Pollock (2-for-4). The trio went a combined 6-for-13 with three RBI, two coming courtesy of Pollock on a bases-loaded single in the sixth.