HOOVER, ALA. -- Georgia struck with four runs in the first two innings and held on to defeat top-ranked South Carolina, 4-2, on Friday night to eliminate the Gamecocks from the SEC baseball tournament.
South Carolina (45-14) now awaits word on the 64-team selection for the NCAA Division I baseball tournament. Regional hosts and sites will be announced on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. The 64-team bracket announcement will be televised live on ESPN at 12:30 p.m. Monday.
Georgia improved to 30-29.
With the Bulldogs striking early, left-handed starter Blake Dieterich (3-3) went to work and limited the Gamecocks to two runs on six hits with two strikeouts and four walks allowed. Georgia closer Tyler Maloof worked a perfect ninth to pick up his 17th save of the season.
South Carolina starting pitcher Colby Holmes (6-3) allowed four runs -- three earned -- on six hits in five innings of work. He had five strikeouts and a walk.
Georgia rushed ahead 3-0 in the bottom of the first inning. Levi Hyams reached base to lead off the inning on a fielding error by second baseman Scott Wingo.
After a base hit by Conor Welton put runners on the corners, the Bulldogs scored the first run of the game on a double by Kyle Farmer. With one out and runners on second and third, Chase Davidson drilled a RBI base hit up the middle to give the Bulldogs a three-run cushion.
Carolina answered with a run in the top of the second inning on three consecutive singles. Jake Williams knocked a base hit to center field, Adrian Morales a single to right field and Evan Marzilli with a RBI single up the middle to bring the Gamecocks within a pair of runs. Dieterich, however, limited the damage as with one out and the bases loaded he struck out DeSean Anderson and coaxed Peter Mooney into a fly out to right field ending Carolina's threat.
Georgia increased the lead back to three in the bottom of the second inning. Welton tallied his second hit of the game, stole second and after a walk to Farmer would score on Zach Cone's RBI base hit. South Carolina answered again and cut Georgia's lead to 4-2 in the top of the third inning. Scott Wingo walked to lead off the third, Jake Williams doubled and Adrian Morales walked to load the bases. With one out, Marzilli tallied his second RBI hit of the game with a single to right field. Georgia kept the damage to a minimum though as Robert Beary was induced into a 6-4-3 double play that kept Carolina behind a pair of runs.
"It was a lot of activity early in the game, after the third inning not so much," said USC coach Ray Tanner. "I thought Dieterich did a really nice job getting out of a couple situations that would have given us a chance to get back in. He made a couple good pitches, got some strikeouts and double play balls. We battled hard after the first inning but we never really got anything going. Benzor did a nice job in relief and Maloof did also. Great pitching effort by Georgia and we didn't do enough to win."
With Carolina trailing by a couple of runs, zeroes on the scoreboard were the story the final 5 1/2 innings. South Carolina threatened in the sixth with Morales reaching base on a single followed by a one out hit by pitch to Beary. However, the Gamecocks could not get the run across as a sharp grounder up the middle by Steven Neff was nabbed and a 1-6-3 double play ended the inning.
E--Mooney, Wingo. DP--Georgia 2. LOB--USC 9, Georgia 9. 2B--Williams, Beary, Farmer. SB--Welton.
South Carolina and Georgia each had eight hits for the evening. Williams, Morales, Marzilli all with two hits apiece and Marzilli driving in a pair of runs.
Conor Welton went 2 for 4 and Zach Cone was 2 for 4 to lead Georgia.