Bulldog sets record at perfect time

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ATHENS, Ga. --- Gordon Beckham's home run drought ended with an exclamation point at a time when Georgia needed it the most.

Beckham cranked a three-run shot in the top of the seventh inning to key a seven-run outburst, helping Georgia stave off elimination and beat Louisville 9-8 in Game 3 of the Athens Regional at Foley Field.

"It was huge," Georgia third baseman Ryan Peisel said. "Before that, we were having to fight and scrap just to get runners on. We left a couple of guys at third. For us to finally get on and then Gordon got the home run, that was a signal that it's time to rumble. ... It all came crashing down on them after that."

The home run was Beckham's school-record 24th of the season, breaking the record set by Andy Osbolt in 1998 and Josh Morris in 2006. He is within three of breaking Morris' career record of 51.

"All I've got to say is it came at a good time, I guess," said Beckham, who 2-for-4.

The home run came at a desperate time for Georgia. The Bulldogs trailed 5-2 in the seventh and had barely shown a pulse against Louisville's pitching, after starting the game with three consecutive singles.

Georgia managed just three hits from the second through the sixth innings. But the Bulldogs led off the seventh with back-to-back singles by Peisel and Matt Olson to bring up Beckham.

Louisville closer B.J. Rosenberg entered the game, and Beckham hit his record setter to right-center field.

"We've got a lot of respect for those guys," Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said. "That's why we went to B.J. right there. We thought that was the ballgame.

"You've got to tip your hat to Beckham. ... I think we were ahead in the count 2-1, and he hit a 94-mph fastball. That's why he's the superstar. That's why he's an All-American. The game was on the line, and he was unbelievable."

Beckham's home run broke a 44-inning dry spell. He had hit only one home run in the 11 games leading into Saturday.

"I had a good talk with Ryan (Peisel) and coach Perno last night, and I came out here today and I said that I was going to enjoy it, win or lose, and have some fun and hope it all worked out," Beckham said.

Beckham also made a strong play in the field. He dove to cut off a sharply hit ground ball by Andrew Clark in the third. He jumped to his feet to throw out Clark and end the inning with a base runner at third.

Reach Roger Clarkson at roger.clarkson@onlineathens.com.


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