March 6, 2011

Top-Ranked Bobcats Hold off Saints in Series Opener

DAHLONEGA, GA – The 11th-ranked North Georgia baseball team stranded 12 runners on Sunday evening as Georgia College, the No. 1 team in the country, held on for a 4-2 victory over the Saints at Bob Stein Stadium in Peach Belt Conference action.

11th-ranked North Georgia drops their series opener against the Bobcats, falling to 11-4 overall on the year and 1-3 in the Peach Belt Conference, while top-ranked Georgia College wins their 12th straight game, improving to 15-2 on the season and 1-0 in league action.

North Georgia starter Blake Hobby was cruising in the fourth inning with a no-hitter, but the Bobcats connected on four straight seeing-eye singles, with the final two base knocks from Benton Yaun and Travis Echols producing a pair of runs and giving Georgia College a 2-0 lead.

Matthew Robinson followed and made it five straight hits with a double to left center, plating Yaun and adding another run for the Bobcats, but Hobby would force Josh Robinson to ground out to second with the bases loaded to end the frame.

The Saints had a golden chance in the fourth inning to get right back in the game as Kenny Bellavance led off the frame and singled, and back-to-back walks juiced the bases for Alan Fredrikkson. The senior shortstop smoked a line drive at first base that was stabbed by Yaun as he stepped on the bag to record the double play as the Bobcats would escape the jam without allowing a run.

North Georgia finally broke through in the fifth inning, this time using a two-out rally as Terrell Jones and Troy Snitker recorded back-to-back singles to set up a two-out double down the right field line by Bellavance, bringing two runs home and cutting the Georgia College lead to a single run at 3-2.

The Saints loaded the bases again in the sixth inning, but once again a line drive to first base recorded the second out of the frame, and a groundout ended the threat as the Bobcats held on to their one-run lead.

It was Georgia College's turn to scrape together some two-out magic in the eighth inning, putting a pair of runners aboard before a ground ball to third base was fielded by Dustin Carpenter and thrown down the right field line, bringing home a run, but Jones gunned out Patrick Daugherty at the plate to end the inning. The insurance run for the Bobcats gave them a 4-2 lead as they held on for the series opening victory.

Hobby (1-1) was the tough-luck loser, lasting 8.0 innings and allowing four runs, three of them earned, while striking out eight. Jason Nicholas (4-1) earns the win, lasting 5.0 innings and surrendering two runs on six hits while striking out four.

The Saints and Bobcats will play the final two games of the series on Monday afternoon with a doubleheader slated to start at 12-noon.