Brandon Stephens delivered a two-out single in the bottom of the 11th inning as the Georgia baseball team eliminated No. 25 Creighton from the 2011 NCAA Tournament with a 5-4, 11-inning victory over the Bluejays on Sunday afternoon.
The Bulldogs moved into the Regional final against No. 13 Oregon State and lost to the Beavers who were hosting the regional. Creighton, which had beaten Georgia 2-1 on Friday to open NCAA play, ends its season with a 45-16 mark.
Creighton scored first with a run in the top of the first against Georgia starter Ben Cornwell. Trever Adams started a two-out rally when he was plunked in the back. He stole second on Cornwell’s next delivery, and later advanced to third when Cornwell’s pickoff throw ended up in centerfield. Adams scored the game’s first run when Jimmy Swift stroked a single up the middle.
Georgia answered Creighton’s score with two runs in the bottom of the first inning. With two away, Kyle Farmer doubled. Zach Cone homered off Greg Hellhake. It was the first allowed in 65.2 innings of work this season by Hellhake.
Consecutive singles by Clay Cuno and Mike Gerber started the second before Gabriel Thibodeaux bunted both men over. Cuno then scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Chance Ross, making the score at 2-2.
Georgia’s Bryan Benzor walked the first man he faced in the eighth inning, and Chance Ross moved into scoring position. Nick Judkins then put down his 22nd sacrifice bunt of the season, tying him for the 2011 national lead and matching the MVC record set by ex-Bluejay Vince Pietro in 1999. An RBI-double scored Ross with the go-ahead run. After an intentional walk to Adams, UGA went to national saves leader Tyler Maloof with just one away. Maloof got Swift to fly out, but Bemboom extended the rally with a single to center that made it 4-2.
UGA tied the game in the bottom half of the eighth inning. After Mark Winkelman allowed a hit and a ground out, the Jays turned to Reese McGraw out of the pen. McGraw left a 1-2 pitch to Kyle Farmer up in the zone, and the Bulldogs leading home run hitter sent it over the wall for his eighth homer of the year, evening the score at 4-4.
Cornwell tied a career-long by throwing five innings, though he did not factor in the decision. The junior gave up five hits and two runs (one earned) while walking two and striking out four men. He gave way to Bryan Benzor to start the sixth, who faced the minimum his first two innings before running into trouble in the eighth.
Hellhake threw well, allowing two earned runs, five hits and three walks in 6.1 innings of work. He left with Jonathan Hester on first base with one down in the seventh, and Chase Webb came on to induce a 4-6-3 double play ball off the bat of Curt Powell. Webb, who threw just four pitches, was in line for the win before Farmer’s home run knotted the score.
In the bottom of the 11th, Kurt Spomer got aid from a diving catch in the right field corner by Adams that prevented a triple from Brett DeLoach for the second out. Peter Verdin singled off Spomer’s glove and swiped his third base of the year to move into scoring position. With first base open, Creighton elected to intentionally walk Jonathan Hester to face Brandon Stephens. Stephens lofted a single to right and DeLoach scored easily to end the game.