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Georgia baseball needs two wins in Super Regional League after NC State loss

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In the showdown between Georgia and NC State on Saturday, the baseball team spiraled out of control from hit to hit in the second inning.

It happened one afternoon when a crowd of fans gathered behind the foul post on Kudzu Hill in right field to attend the Bulldogs' first Super Regional since 2008.

At Foley Field, NC State harassed pitcher Kolten Smith with one batter after another.

The visiting Wolf Pack hit hard, with 10 consecutive batters reaching base against the Georgia starter and the Wolf Pack scoring 11 runs in a disastrous inning en route to an 18-1 loss in Game 1 before a crowd of 3,829.

It was Georgia's biggest loss and the third-most runs allowed in 93 NCAA postseason games in program history. The Wolfpack finished the day with five home runs and 20 hits from four different Georgia pitchers.

“That's the great thing about our game, nothing carries over to tomorrow,” Georgia coach Wes Johnson said. “The score goes back to 0-0. We'll come back and be ready to respond.”

Georgia (42-16) will look to keep its season alive when it faces the Wolfpack (37-20) in the best-of-three series at noon Sunday. The Wolfpack is just one win away from its fourth College World Series appearance in program history.

NC State allowed 9 hits and 10 runs (8 earned) to Smith in the second inning, taking advantage of a weak defense.

“Obviously that one inning threw things a little out of balance for them,” NC State coach Elliott Avent said.

It started with singles by Brandon Butterworth and Alex Sosa and then two consecutive bunt singles. Luke Nixon's hit to first base brought in the first run and Matt Heavner pulled one between the mound and third base and Smith was slow to react.

“The chaos erupted and then we just went for it,” said Jacob Cozart, the catcher from NC State.

This loaded the bases for Noah Soles (2 out of 5, 5 RBI), who cleared them with a double down the right field line to make it 4-0.

Eli Serrano hit his 8th home run of the season to right-center field to make it 6-0. The Wolfpack got its eighth straight hit on singles by Garrett Pennington and then Alec Makarewicz, who hit a ball up the middle that grazed a finger on Smith's throwing hand.

After a trainer checked on Smith (9-3), Cozart hit a ground ball to first base, but Corey Collins' throw to second base knocked Slate Alford off the bag, resulting in an error.

Then Butterworth singled for the second time in the inning to make it 7-0 when right fielder Dylan Goldstein tried to catch a ball along the wall that bounced off his glove.

Chandler Marsh stopped the bleeding briefly by getting a strikeout with the bases full, but Sosa followed with a double to increase the lead to 9-0.

Clayton Chadwick misjudged a fly ball to left that was ruled a double and brought in two more runs.

The Wolfpack had 11 runs and 11 hits in this inning, the most in an inning for NC State in its seven Super Regional appearances.

Georgia allowed 12 runs in the fourth inning of a 19-11 loss to Florida at home on May 18. The school record is 13 runs against Tennessee in 2010.

Collins said Georgia practices for the bunts, but “they just put a little pressure on me. That's all you can say. I made a few mistakes.”

Smith did not allow a single batter to get through and threw strikes on 30 of his 38 pitches.

“I made this comment to some of my coaches in my dugout … I've never allowed 11 runs in an inning and never allowed a walk or hit an opponent,” Johnson said.

NC State starter Sam Highfill (7-2) retired the first eight batters he faced, allowing just one run and four hits in six innings. The Bulldogs didn't get their first hit until No. 9 batter Branch hit a single in the third inning.

The highlight of the game for Georgia was probably two pike catches by midfielder Dillon Carter.

Cozart added his 17th home run of the season and a run-scoring single to make it 13-0 in the fifth inning and later his 18th. Collins' run-scoring single in the fifth inning put Georgia on the scoreboard, but the game was all but over.

Georgia made major defensive changes in the sixth period.

Georgia and NC State met in the Super Regional round in 2008, the last time the Bulldogs made it that far.

NC State had a freshman designated hitter named Russell Wilson who became an NFL star quarterback. Georgia star Gordon Beckham hit two home runs in the 17-8 win in Game 3.

“We couldn't throw Gordon Beckham out and we lost the third game,” Avent said when asked about his memories of his first return to Foley.

Georgia may have the best player in college baseball in Charlie Condon.

The nation's home run and batting average leader went 0 for 3 with a walk on Saturday.

Condon and his Georgia teammates must now give it their all because their season is on the line.

“I don't know how many days I have here in Athens,” said Collins, a senior. “All I can do for these guys is just try to have as much fun as possible.”

Anna Harden

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