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Wonderdogs one win away

• Four RBI, homer by Hart's Susdorf powers Fresno State

Posted: June 25, 2008 1:18 a.m.
Updated: August 26, 2008 5:03 a.m.
 

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Fresno State has reached the brink of pulling off what once was unimaginable for a team in its situation: winning a national championship.

One of the most amazing postseason runs in college baseball history continued Tuesday night thanks to an offensive performance that was nothing short of, well, amazing.

After spotting Georgia a five-run lead in the third inning, Fresno State struck for 15 runs over the next three innings for a 19-10 victory in Game 2 of the College World Series finals.

"This club has a lot of heart. I keep saying that because it's true," Fresno State coach Mike Batesole said. "This team has been going and going and going, and they're going to go for nine more innings."

The Bulldogs from Fresno State (46-31) and Bulldogs from Georgia (45-24-1) will meet in Game 3 on Wednesday night to determine college baseball's top dog.

"Throughout the whole season, we knew we had all the tools to do something like this," left fielder Steve Susdorf said. "To put them all together and get to the point is not really describable."

Tommy Mendonca put Fresno State in front with his record-tying fourth home run of the CWS in his team's six-run third inning.

Fresno State scored five runs in the fourth and four more in the fifth to trip up a Georgia team that appeared on the verge of sweeping through the CWS to its second national title and first since 1990.

Fresno State wouldn't let its incredible season end that way, not on this night. Rather, the Bulldogs scored the most runs against a Georgia team since Tennessee's 19-12 win in the 2001 CWS - 435 games ago.

Before Tuesday, Fresno State hadn't come back from more than four runs down to win a game this season.

Georgia coach David Perno tried to keep a sense of humor in defeat.

Considering what's at stake, Perno said, it should be easy for his players to quickly forget Game 2.

"This is for everything we've worked for, and it comes down to tomorrow," he said. "There is no other team I would want in our dugout other than this team. It's a one-shot deal."

Known as the "Wonderdogs" around here, Fresno State displayed more of the moxie that has carried them further than any No. 4 regional seed had gone before.

Fresno State batted around in the third inning and sent 10 to the plate in the fourth.

Mendonca's three-run homer put the Bulldogs ahead 6-5, and Susdorf's two-run shot in the fifth made it 15-6.

The six-run third wasn't even Fresno State's most productive inning of the CWS. It had a seven-run outburst against Rice in the fourth inning of a 17-5 victory.

"I got lucky," Mendonca said of his blast.

Georgia, which rallied for four eighth-inning runs to Fresno State 7-6 in Game 1 of the finals, jumped on Justin Miller.

Miller, who lasted four innings and got a no-decision in a 5-3 win over North Carolina earlier in the CWS, lasted only 2 2-3 innings.

Three of Georgia's first four batters singled. Rich Poythress drove in a run, and after Matt Cerione was intentionally walked to load the bases, Joey Lewis hit a two-run single up the middle.

Poythress' sacrifice fly in the second and David Thomas' RBI single in the third finished off Miller.

The big start didn't lull Georgia into complacency, shortstop Gordon Beckham said.

"It was too early," he said. "We weren't caught off-guard. It's not like we let down. We were in the dugout saying we have a lot of time left and they're a good team. They beat us straight up. We were not fooled. They took us over. We were ready, and they just hit. It was their night."

Georgia starter Nick Montgomery held Fresno State to one hit the first two innings.

"The biggest thing was that there was no sense of panic," Susdorf said.

"Nobody was in the dugout panicking, say, ‘Oh, my, we're down 5-0 and we might not play tomorrow.' It was, ‘Keep taking good bat-bats, get runners on base and make good things happen.'"

Steve Detwiler singled and scored on a wild pitch for Fresno State's first run and Susdorf followed with a bases-loaded, two-run single to chase Montgomery.

After Stephen Dodson (5-5) got Alan Ahmady to fly out, Mendonca launched a first-pitch homer into the middle of the bleachers in right field, his 19th, for the lead.

Mendonca joined seven others who have hit four homers in a CWS.

The runs kept coming in the fourth and fifth, and still more in the seventh and eighth.

Holden Sprague (6-2), who relieved Miller, held Georgia to one run on four singles and a double from the fourth to sixth inning.

Georgia scored four runs against Sprague in the seventh to pull within five runs, but Fresno State responded with three more runs in the bottom half.

Batesole and his players sat stone-faced at the postgame news conference. This team has come too far to have a premature celebration. There's still work to do Wednesday.

"The time to celebrate," second baseman Erik Wetzel said, "will be after."

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