ATHENS, Ga. - Matt Cerione's RBI single in the bottom of the ninth lifted Georgia to a 4-3 win over Vanderbilt in the series finale Sunday afternoon at Foley Field.
The win snapped an eight game losing streak for Georgia (34-17, 15-12 SEC), while the loss snapped the Commodores (31-21, 12-14 SEC) win streak at four games.
Nick Christiani (5-4) hit pinch-hitter Michael Demperio to lead off the ninth. Demperio stole second and Lyle Allen was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with no outs. After failing to sacrifice bunt the runners into scoring position, Cerione laced a single down the left field line to score the winning run.
"This was a tough loss cause I thought we were in position to win the game and sweep the series," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. "At the same time, it was nice to come in and take two after last weekend and I liked the intensity we played with."
With Kentucky's loss to Auburn on Sunday, the Commodores remained a game and a half up on the Wildcats for the eighth and final spot in the SEC tournament. UK plays at Florida next weekend and will need to win at least two to remain in the hunt. Vanderbilt's magic number is two games to clinch a spot. A win and a Kentucky loss would also clinch a spot for the Dores.
Matt Cerione's solo homer in the first, his eighth of the year, staked the Bulldogs to their first lead of the weekend at 1-0.
Drew Hayes pitched out of a jam in the third after Levi Hyams led off with a walk and moved to second on a balk. Hayes got David Thoms to ground out to second, advancing Hyams to third. Johnathan Taylor grounded out to second in a drawn in infield, preventing Hyams from scoring and then Cerione grounded to Reynolds to end the threat.
Reynolds then came up big in the fifth with a RBI single to give the Commodores a 2-1 lead. Joe Loftus singled up the middle with one out and advanced to second on Brian Harris' infield single on a hit and run situation. Reynolds then followed with his single up the middle to score Loftus.
As had been the case all weekend the Commodore pitching staff came up big in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Bulldogs had runners at first and second when Hayes surrendered just his second hit of the game to David Thoms to load the bases with one out. Freshman Grayson Garvin came on in relief and struck out pinch hitter Lyle Allen and leadoff hitter Matt Cerione on a 3-2 pitch to end the threat.
Hayes allowed one run on two hits in 4.1 innings with four strikeouts and three walks in the no decision.
Joey Lewis' solo homer in the bottom of the seventh tied the game at 2-2. UGA threatened to take the lead with runners at first and second with one out when Richie Goodenow struck out Matt Cerione and Chase Reid came on to get Colby May to fly out to left.
The Dores took a 3-2 lead in the eighth, when Curt Casali scored from third on a passed ball by UGA catcher Joey Lewis.
The Bulldogs tied it back up in the bottom half on Bryce Massanari's solo homer to right-center, off of Vanderbilt closer Russell Brewer. It was Massanari's 18th homer of the year and the Bulldogs third solo homer of the game, accounting for all of Georgia's runs. The run snapped Brewer's 10 inning scoreless streak dating back to April 5 against Florida (eight appearances).
Dean Weaver (2-2) picked up the win with two innings of one-hit relief. Nick Christiani (5-4) allowed one run in a third of an inning on one hit to drop the decision.
The Commodores will close out the regular season next week as in-state rival Tennessee comes to town for a three-game set. The Volunteers are 22-29 overall and 8-19 in league play after dropping two of three to South Carolina over the weekend in Knoxville.
Due to teams getting an extra day of rest for the SEC tourney, the series begins on Thursday at 6 p.m. and will continue at 6 p.m. on Friday and at Noon on Saturday. VU will recognize seniors Nick Christiani and Jonathan White prior to the finale. The Saturday contest will also be televised regionally by CSS with Joe Fisher and Willy Daunic calling the action.