June 1, 2002
ATLANTA – Lee Mitchell went 4-for-5 and drove in three runs with three doubles, and Chaz Lytle drove in the tie-breaking run in the eighth inning for Georgia, leading the Bulldogs past Coastal Carolina, 9-7, Saturday night in the NCAA Atlantic Regional at Russ Chandler Stadium.
The No. 2-seeded Bulldogs (32-28) advance to the championship round Sunday for a 1 p.m. game against top-seeded Georgia Tech (48-14). Georgia, which lost 3-0 to Tech Saturday afternoon, must defeat the Yellow Jackets twice Sunday to win the championship. If a second game is necessary, it will begin 45 minutes after the conclusion of the 1 p.m. game. The Chanticleers, who were eliminated by Georgia in a regional for the second consecutive year, finish their season at 44-19.
In the decisive eighth inning, David Coffey led off with a triple and scored on Lytle’s single. After Lytle was eliminated on Adam Swann’s fielder’s choice grounder, Kris Edge pinch ran and scored on Mitchell’s third double of the night.
Steve Soja (3-1), the fourth pitcher of the game for the Chanticleers, took the loss. William Sartain (3-0), the last of six Georgia pitchers, earned the win by pitching the final 1 1/3 innings. Sartain and three other relievers combined to shut out Coastal Carolina on three hits over the final 4 1/3 innings after starter Jeffery Carswell and ace reliever Bill Sharpton gave up seven runs on eight hits in the first 4 2/3 innings.
Lytle and Marshall Szabo each contributed a pair of hits and two RBI, and Matt Cavender homered to help Georgia rally from a 7-3 deficit after 4 innings.
“I thought it was the way we needed to win tonight. It gives us momentum going into tomorrow,” said Georgia coach David Perno. “We got a lot of help from people off the bench, definitely a team win tonight. We used a lot of pitching, but a lot of them we didn’t use very long, so they’ll be able to return tomorrow. [It was] a good comeback win that showed a lot of resiliency.”
Szabo belted a two-run homer, his sixth of the season, to give Georgia a 2-0 first-inning lead. Coastal Carolina scratched back for a run in the second and then took the lead with four runs in the fourth inning, highlighted by Jeff Baker’s two-run double. The Chanticleers added a pair of runs in the fifth, Chad Felty driving home one with a double and then scoring the other by stealing home for a 7-3 lead.
Georgia began its comeback with two runs in the fifth when Mitchell delivered an RBI double and scored one batter later on an error. The Bulldogs tied the game at 7-7 with two runs in the sixth, with Mitchell again coming through with an RBI-double in the frame.
“If you are going to give up 18 hits and make two errors, you are not going to beat a whole lot of people,” said Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore. “The main thing I was disappointed in was the pitching. I thought we could have done a better job.”