June 11, 2004
ATLANTA (AP) – Johnny Dobbs threw the right pitch and Marshall Szabo made the play. Just like that, they stopped Georgia Tech’s best threat.
“The whole game could have turned right there,” Dobbs said.
Dobbs escaped that bases-loaded jam and Bobby Felmy had a three-run homer before leaving the leg cramps to lead Georgia past Georgia Tech 7-5 Friday in Game 1 of the NCAA super regional.
Szabo went 2-for-5 and had a two-run single to move the Bulldogs (42-21) within one victory of a trip to the College World Series. Clint Sammons scored two runs and Will Startup pitched the final three innings for his ninth save.
Dobbs (5-2) pitched 2 1-3 innings in relief of starter Michael Hyle and allowed only Nickeas’ solo shot in the sixth. He struck out one and walked one.
“That’s how we play, we pick each other up,” Georgia coach David Perno said. “Johnny Dobbs picked up Michael Hyle, and Bobby Felmy picked us up with two outs. It was a collective effort by everybody in our lineup.”
Georgia Tech closed to 5-3 in the third on Eric Patterson’s two-run homer, then Hyle got two outs in the fourth. He threw two balls to Mike Trapani and pitching coach Butch Thompson came out for a visit. After a brief discussion, Hyle left in favor of Dobbs.
Hyle hadn’t pitched since May 28 because of stiffness in his shoulder.
“He wasn’t as sharp as he has been, and that’s expected because he skipped a week,” Perno said. “He just couldn’t quite get a feel.”
Dobbs promptly threw two more balls to walk Trapani, and another walk to Patterson loaded the bases. Brandon Boggs worked to a full count before hitting a grounder, and Szabo had to wait on a big hop before throwing to first.
His relay narrowly beat Boggs, who slid headfirst into the base.
“The infield played hard, so I was treating it like a high hop,” Szabo said. “My first step was back. I knew he’s a good runner, so I just had to do my best to get it there as quick as I could.”
On the mound, Dobbs relaxed.
“That play was huge,” he said. “If Marshall doesn’t make that play, then Georgia Tech gets the momentum and could have had a big inning. I was worried, but he made a great play.”
Mike Nickeas had three hits – including a home run – and Patterson also homered for the Yellow Jackets (44-20), who lost for only the third time in 26 games.
“You hate to lose, especially at home in a situation like this,” Patterson said. “But it’s best-of-three, and something we can’t dwell on. We’ve got a job to do, and we’re going to do it.”
The Bulldogs made it 7-3 in the sixth with two runs off Micah Owings (9-3). Jason Jacobs brought in Sammons with a single, and Felmy scored on a sacrifice fly by Justin Holmes.
Owings lasted six innings and gave up seven runs on nine hits, both season highs. He lost for the first time in 10 starts, dating back to March 12 against Virginia. He threw 104 pitches to bring his total over the past three outings to 381.
“I don’t think we played our best baseball,” Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall said. “Give Georgia credit. They got some hits when they needed them, capitalized on a couple of mistakes that we made.”
The Yellow Jackets got within three runs on the solo homer by Nickeas, then added another run in the eighth on a bad-hop single by Tyler Greene that brought in Nickeas.
Felmy’s homer came during a five-run third against Owings. Szabo drove in Josh Smith and Holmes with a single, and after Szabo was caught stealing for the second out, Joey Side and Sammons walked.
Down in the count 0-2, Felmy hit a fastball from Owings over the fence in right, a towering drive that nearly carried the secondary wall about 30 feet beyond the field. That made it 5-1.
“I had a two-strike approach, and I was just trying to put the ball in play,” Felmy said.
Georgia Tech took a 1-0 lead in the first when Patterson scored on a double by Steven Blackwood in the first.