FLORENCE, S.C. – The No. 3-seed and No. 9-ranked Georgia College & State University baseball team (38-15) used stellar defense, solid pitching and timely hitting to get past No. 2-seed and No. 4-ranked Columbus State University (44-12) 5-3 Saturday, day three of the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Championship Tournament.
The Bobcats advance to Sunday, playing No. 1-seed and No. 6-ranked Francis Marion University at 1 p.m. should Georgia College win again, it will advance to the World Series for the first time since 1995. If the Bobcats lose, they play FMU again at 4 p.m. with the winner of that game taking the region title and World Series bid.
The victory over CSU tonight makes the Bobcats 5-0 against the Cougars this season, including two wins in the last two days at this region tournament.
Defense got the Bobcats out of a few sticky situations today, as a diving effort combined with a backhand toss by shortstop Chandler Snell (Loganville, Ga.) started a double play with two on in the fifth. Then, with a runner on first in the sixth, centerfielder Sean Harrell (Martinez, Ga.) leapt above the fence to pull back a home run off the bat of Wes Adkins that would have cut the Bobcat lead to one.
“When you go about building a team, you want to be strong defensively up the middle,” said head coach Tom Carty. “Chandler is a guy that is a four-year starter that really raises his game on the tough plays and in the big games. (Second baseman Jason Veyna (Lamar, Colo.)) has been a great compliment to him all year at second. Sean Harrell robbed a home run that was huge and made all the difference as we could still be playing right now.”
The Bobcats got another solid start from its pitching staff tonight, as junior righty Eric Pettepher (Gordon, Ga.) went 6 1/3 innings fanning three and allowing just three runs on 10 hits. Senior righty Brendon Malkowski (Schenectady, N.Y.) entered in the seventh with one out, tossing the final 2.2 scoreless for his second save. He struck out four and surrendered just one hit, retiring Peach Belt Conference (PBC) Player of the Year Jason Rogers twice with runners on base.
“I just wanted to get the ball downhill, get ahead of hitters and close things out,” said Malkowski. “The team played so well tonight I didn't want to let them down.”
The Bobcats struck first in the first, when Kyle Allen (Conyers, Ga.) doubled and scored after a couple of productive groundouts. In the second, the 'Cats plated three more when catcher Richard Pirkle (Norcross, Ga.) tripled home first baseman Matt Pitts (Brunswick, Ga.) and designated hitter Benton Yaun (Marietta, Ga.), who both reached on singles. Another groundout later, Pirkle scored to make it a 4-0 Bobcat lead.
After two runs for CSU in the fifth on RBI singles by Alex Montes and Rogers, Georgia College got one back on an RBI single by rightfielder Shawn Ward (Marietta, Ga.). The Cougars got another run in the seventh on an RBI single from leftfielder Ryan Lewis, but could inch no closer thanks to the closing fastball of Malkowski.
Pitts finished 2-for-4 with a run, while Pirkle went 1-for-3, driving in a pair and scoring once. Leadoff hitter Allen scored twice on a 1-for-3 day.
CSU starter David Lane (6-2) couldn't get out of the second inning in the loss. The Cougars' top hitter was leadoff man and centerfielder Montes, going 2-for-5 with a run and an RBI.
The GCSU Department of Athletics, winners of the 2008-09 PBC Commissioner's Cup, sponsors 10 varsity athletic programs at the NCAA Division II level. As a Division II program, Georgia College prides itself on balancing the life of the student-athlete, evidenced by the Bobcats' multiple appearances in post-season competition as well as documented academic success and community-service involvement. Sign up at Twitter.com username GCSUSID for up-to-the-minute reports, and visit www.GCSUBobcats.com to nominate your favorite former Bobcats and Colonials to the GCSU Athletics Hall of Fame.