CWS notes: Hot 'Dogs' light up board
Fresno State takes second game in a 19-10 slugfest
OMAHA, Neb. -- It took Gordon Beckham a second to realize what his coach was talking about at the press conference after Georgia's 19-10 loss to Fresno State in the second game of the College World Series finals on Tuesday.
"We just had a tough time defending that post pattern across the middle," joked Georgia head baseball coach Dave Perno.
Surely the late George Carlin would have appreciated the game's football-like score, a game that lasted about four hours and featured exactly 100 plate appearances.
After Georgia jumped to a 5-0 lead early, Fresno State had a resounding comeback, scoring six runs in the bottom of the third inning. Sophomore third baseman Tommy Mendonca hit a home run with two outs that gave Fresno a 6-5 lead, his fourth home run in the CWS. That puts the sophomore in a tie with seven other players for the all-time mark.
"Fresno State had the merry-go-round, or the circus, whatever you want to call it," Beckham said after the game. "They were going around the bases all night."
In the press conference after Game 1, Fresno State coach Mike Batesole predicted that he would have to use six or seven pitchers to get through the second game. The pitching staff was taxed, with no available starter on more than three days' rest. Fresno senior outfielder Steven Susdorf said the offense knew the game was on their shoulders.
"It's great that the offense came through and picked up the staff today," Susdorf said.
Perno took the time after the game to note that the experience was not all negative for the Bulldogs, as a significant deficit allowed him to turn to his younger bench players.
"Every kid in our dugout has played in Omaha, and there's a lot of teams that come here and don't get everyone on the field," Perno said. "That was a very positive experience for us."
After the game, Beckham couldn't help but turn to cliché for his prediction for the third and deciding game of the championship series.
"It's going to be a dogfight," he said with a smile. "It'll be a lot of fun."
Last, least, but not defining: Following Georgia's loss, Perno did little to hide his plan for the third game of the College World Series finals. The Bulldogs plan to start the game with junior Nathan Moreau, and use Dean Weaver, Alex McRee and Josh Fields in relief.
"Everyone else is going to cheerlead," Perno said.
The list of cheerleaders is set to include Steven Dodson, who may have pitched his last game in a Georgia Bulldogs uniform on Tuesday. It was a disappointing outing for the right-hander, who entered in relief in a tough spot. He gave up Fresno State's go-ahead home run to Mendonca and allowed five earned runs in just one inning of work.
"I think the three-run homer in the third ... I think it deflated him a little bit," Perno said. "It took a lot out of him, and maybe he let up that next inning ... He was reeling at that point."
Perno called the home run his fault, as he said he called for Dodson to throw his third-best pitch to Mendonca. Perno has praised Dodson all week, and yesterday, when it looked like Trevor Holder might not be able to continue his start after a ground ball ricocheted off his leg, Perno was not concerned with Dodson on his team.
"When you have the luxury of having a guy like Steven Dodson, it wasn't an emergency, it wasn't a panic situation," he said.
In his time at Georgia, Dodson has been a jack-of-all-trades, used in every role possible.
"I relieved the first year and a half I was here, then I became a starter up to the postseason," Dodson explained. "It doesn't really matter to me; wherever I fit there is what I'll do. I really like both."
That might just be the perfect answer for the Colorado Rockies, who drafted Dodson in the 10th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, enamored with the big right-hander's sinker. Scouting director Bill Schmidt said the team doesn't forecast a role for Dodson yet, just a positive result.
"He has all the physical qualities to potentially help us at the Major League level," Schmidt said.
Perno, who has used Dodson in all roles, believes he has a handle on the right-hander's future.
"Steven's born to be a bullpen guy; that's who he is, and that's probably what he'll be at the next level," Perno said. "Not a big punchout guy; he's a strike-thrower, a ground-ball guy. At the same time, mentality-wise, he gets ready in a hurry. You know what you're going to get; you're going get a guy that throws strikes. You're going to get a guy who can produce a ground ball when he needs a double play."
While Dodson didn't get the big double play when he needed it on Tuesday, it's clear that the double plays he has garnered for three seasons will be his legacy. And the Rockies are hoping he might just have one or two left in him.
Left on the table: The last time Justin Miller pitched, he gave up a home run. With one swing, North Carolina senior Chad Flack gave the Tar Heels a 4-3 lead, and it looked like the momentum might have season-ending ramifications for Fresno State.
It also looked like Miller was out of gas. The pitch to Flack was a two-strike slider, what Batesole said after the game is "what he does." The 11th-round pick in the First-Year Player Draft looked as if his next outing would be in the Texas Rangers' organization.
Both sentiments proved to be false, as Fresno State rebounded to eliminate North Carolina from the tournament, and Miller bounced back to get the Game 2 start of the championship series. On paper, his line looks dreadful -- five earned runs allowed in 2 2/3 innings pitched. However, after the game, Batesole said it was the performance he was most proud of.
"What Justin Miller gave us with what he has left in the tank ... was pretty special," Batesole said. "[He was] pitching off guts and heart."
Miller struck out three batters in his outing, two on the same pitch that Flack hit out on June 21.
Bryan Smith is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.