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Georgia beats Georgia Tech baseball, 6-4, at Turner Field, avoids season sweep

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ATLANTA - For eight innings the Georgia Tech (30-12) pitching staff tossed a gem. But the Georgia Bulldogs (22-20) took advantage of the one tough inning for the Yellow Jacket hurlers and claimed a 6-4 win over Tech in the regular-season series finale in front of 18,156 fans at Turner Field on Tuesday night.

The victory for Georgia ended Georgia Tech's five-game win streak in the series, and was the first for the Bulldogs over the Yellow Jackets since the 2009 season. It also avoided a series sweep by Tech.

Earning the win for Georgia was relief pitcher Bryan Benzor (2-0), tossing three innings while allowing one run on two hits. Tyler Maloof recorded the final three outs for the Bulldogs to tally his 14th save of the year.

"We did a great job and this was a huge win for us," UGA coach Dave Perno said. "We got the big inning in the fourth and made it stick. That's becoming the key for us. The last eight and two-thirds we didn't walk anybody, and that was big. Tonight was about putting guys in the right situations and getting the job done."

Freshman Matthew Grimes (5-3), who had claimed two wins in the year's first two games against Georgia, suffered the loss for Tech. Grimes went three and two-thirds, allowing five runs, five hits and three walks.

Injured UGA player Johnathan Taylor, a 5-8, 181-pound native of Acworth, returned to the team ceremoniously to the team Tuesday to a resounding ovation. Taylor is currently a patient at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. He suffered a serious neck injury on March 6 in an outfield collision during a game against Florida State.Tuesday marked the first time he was back around in his teammates since the accident. He met with the team before the game and watched the first four innings from the Bulldog dugout before returning to the Sheperd Center.

"We had an opportunity to spend some time with J.T. before the game, and he looks great and is doing great," Perno said. "The last time we all saw him together was very emotional because he was in intensive care right after the accident. Tonight, it was nice to see his smile again and the guys had a chance to visit. He's got a magnetic personality. It's going to be a long haul, and we're all in this together. It was just a wonderful night.

The Yellow Jackets put a pair of runs on the board in the home half of the second inning. Freshman Daniel Palka ripped a double down the right field line, followed by free passes to classmates Zane Evans and Mott Hyde. Sophomore Brandon Thomas reached on a chopper over the mound, allowing Palka to score from third. On the next pitch, Georgia's Ben Cornwell threw a wild pitch and Evans raced in to put the Jackets up 2-0.

Georgia went to the bullpen with one out in the second after junior right-hander Ben Cornwell staked the Yellow Jackets to a 2-0 lead. He gave up a one-out double to Daniel Palka, issued a four-pitch walk to Zane Evans and then Mott Hyde drew a walk to load the bases.

Grimes had retired nine of the first 12 Georgia he faced batters, including five on strikes, but was chased from the game in the top half of the fourth with three runs. Zach Cone walked, stole second and scored on a Jonathan Hester single up the middle. Georgia added a pair of runs when Levi Hyams singled to right, driving in Hester and Kevin Ruiz..

The Bulldog half inning stayed alive with a Farmer single to right, which brought home Georgia's Curt Powell and Hyams, giving the visitors from Athens a 5-2 lead.

The Jackets added a third run in the bottom of the fourth on a Hyde sac fly to right, which drove in Palka.

Palka pulled Tech within 5-4 in the bottom of the sixth with a two-out home run to right field, his eighth round tripper of the season.

The Lyman, S.C. native was 3-for-4 with his eighth home run of the season to pace the Jackets.

Hyams reached on a single to right as the second Georgia batter of the eighth, stole second and scored on a Farmer single up the middle to give the Bulldogs a 6-4 advantage.

The Tech bullpen - consisting of five different hurlers -- scattered just one run and five hits over 5 1/3 innings in relief of Grimes.

Georgia Tech returns to ACC action this weekend as the Yellow Jackets travel to 23rd-ranked Clemson for a three-game set. Friday's game will be at 6:30 p.m.

The Bulldogs return to SEC action Friday for the first of a three-game series with 14th-ranked Arkansas (28-11, 9-9 SEC).