ATHENS, Ga. - Dustin Hunter held No. 8 Georgia at bay for seven innings but a ninth-inning rally off Dan Russell pushed the Bulldogs (10-1) to a 3-2 victory over Western Illinois (3-6) Saturday afternoon (March 3) at Foley Field.
The Fighting Leathernecks outhit the Bulldogs 8-6 but could not capitalize on several scoring chances throughout the game. Colby May singled with one out in the ninth inning and advanced to third on Ryan Cowhey's error in right field. Following an intentional walk to load the bases, defensive replacement Kevin Ruiz drove home May for the winning run.
Hunter allowed just two runs (one earned) over seven innings of work. He gave up four singles, walked four and struck out eight batters. Hunter owns 26 strikeouts over 17 1/3 innings of work this season.
Russell (1-1) relieved Hunter in the eighth inning and took the loss after allowing one run on two hits and a walk over 1 1/3 innings. Blake Dieterich (2-0) recorded the win for the Bulldogs with two scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
Dan Dispensa went 2-for-5 at the plate for his fourth multi-hit game of the season and also stole a base. Vince Howard picked up two RBIs and stole two bases to raise his season total to three. scored a run and went 2-for-4 for his third multi-hit game of the season. Austin Cowen singled and walked while Tom Lilja singled and scored a run for the Leathernecks.
Hunter started off the game by allowing a walk and a single. However, he settled down and retired the next seven batters he faced. Georgia put together a two-out rally in the third inning after a walk and two singles scored Nelson Ward.
Georgia's lead did not last long as Western Illinois tallied two runs on three consecutive hits in the fourth inning. Lilja singled to left field with two outs and Cowhey followed with a single up the middle. Both runners advanced one base on a wild pitch and scored on Howard's single to left field. With Jameson Henning at the plate, Howard stole both second and third base before Henning grounded out to end the inning.
Rich Mascheri and Cowen recorded consecutive walks with two outs in the fifth inning but struck out looking to end the threat. Georgia used a Peter Verdin leadoff walk to tie the game in the fifth inning. Verdin advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt and a single by Conor Welton. After Hunter picked off Welton at first base, Verdin scored on a wild pitch to knot the score at 2-2.
Igara singled to left field with two outs in the eighth inning but was stranded when Lilja flied out to right field. Igara has reached base in seven consecutive contests.
Cowhey led off the ninth inning with an infield single to third base and advanced to second on Howard's sacrifice bunt. Henning then reached on an error by the second baseman but Manny Reyes and Dispensa were retired to end the threat.
Western Illinois and Georgia conclude the three-game series Sunday (March 4) when a pair of freshmen take the mound. Nick Smith opposes Taylor Hicks for a noon first pitch from Foley Field.