April 13, 2003
Knoxville, Tenn. - Marshall Szabo's two-run home run in the eighth inning snapped a 6-6 tie giving the Georgia Bulldogs an 8-6 win over the Tennessee Volunteers at Lindsey Nelson Stadium, preventing the sweep. Despite the loss, Tennessee remains in a first-place tie with South Carolina in the SEC Eastern Division.
The game got off to a wild start as Georgia (17-18, 3-12 SEC) jumped out to a 5-1 lead after one, only to see the Volunteers (20-14, 7-8 SEC) pull to within one at 6-5 at the end of two. Both starting pitchers were gone as Tennessee starter Dusty Johnson left after the first and Bulldog starter Brandon Moorhead disappeared after the second.
Tennessee did manage to tie the game in the seventh when pinch hitter Jimbo Watson beat out an infield hit scoring Jordan Czarniecki. Czarniecki reached on a two-out single and took third on a fielding error by center fielder Jon Armitage. Armitage came running in on a line drive by Justin Branson only to see the ball drop out of his glove.
Brent Benefield (1-3) then came on in relief of Will Startup who replaced Moorhead in the third. Benefield issued a walk to load the bases, setting the table for Watson. He would strikeout Kyle Norrid to end the Vol threat.
After giving up a lead off walk in the eighth, Benefield sent down six straight Vols for his first win.
Six Bulldogs collected at least two hits, led by David Coffey's 3-for-5 day, as they pounded out 15 in the game.
Georgia struck early, chasing Johnson after the first, tagging him for five runs. Lee Mitchell got the Bulldogs started with a two-run home run, his seventh. Then with two outs, they plated three more on an RBI double by Szabo followed by a two-run single by Clint Sammons.
Czarniecki plated the first Vol run on a groundout in the bottom of the inning, before Georgia took a 6-1 lead in the second on a sacrifice fly.
Tennessee then rallied with four runs on two hits, a passed ball and one Georgia error in the bottom of the frame. Alex Suarez and Josh Alley delivered with RBI hits, eliminating Moorhead, as the Vols pulled to within 6-5.
Luke Hochevar (5-4) took the loss as he pitched eight innings of relief, striking out nine.
Czarniecki, Norrid and Walter Sevilla each had two hits to pace the Vols.
The Vols now travel to Johnson City, Tenn., to play the East Tennessee State Buccaneers Tuesday at 7 p.m. UT defeated the Bucs 11-3 in Knoxville on April 2.