ATHENS, Ga. -- The No. 6 national seed Georgia Bulldogs scored three runs in the third and five in the fifth to run-rule the Georgia State Panthers, 8-0, in the nightcap of Friday's NCAA Regionals in Athens.
The Bulldogs (48-12) advance into the winner's bracket to meet UAB (39-17) in a noon game on Saturday. The Panthers will now meet Florida State (30-27) at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. The loser will be eliminated from the Regionals.
The Panthers are now 2-9 all-time against UGA, with their only wins coming in a 2000 doubleheader.
"I'm proud of our kids," said interim head coach Roger Kincaid. "They competed out there for our first time playing in the regionals. We were composed and did what we needed to do in the first two and a half innings. Our kids played great defense the whole way through. We pitched well but got a couple of bad breaks when they piled on and scored five in one inning. I'm pleased with the effort. We've had a great attitude all season. It doesn't matter who we play tomorrow, we're going to show up ready to play ball."
UGA plated three runs in the third on the strength of Brianna Hesson's two-run single and five runs in the fourth inning with a double by Hesson scoring three of the five runs. Hesson had a season-high five RBI on the game.
GSU started off strong, putting runners at first and second in each of the first two innings. However, a mixture of pitching and good defense helped the Bulldogs out of the inning both times.
Picking up hits for GSU were senior Lauren Jones, sophomore Paige Nowacki, sophomore Audrey Mason and junior Emily Whitaker. Freshman Maddy Stanton drew the team's lone walk.
Suffering the loss for GSU was Athens-native Alana Thomas (9-10). The junior pitched well in the first two innings, but gave up three runs in the third before being relieved by sophomore McCall Langford. Langford struggled in the circle, giving up four runs on three hits in just 0.2 innings of work. Freshman Kaitlyn Medlam went an inning, allowing a run on one hit.
"It's a great feeling (to be pitching in Athens)," said Thomas. "When we watched the selection show and saw that we would be in Athens, I was very excited. Growing up, I would watch the Bulldogs play. It's an incredible feeling to know that we're here and we're still in it. I felt like I was on top of my game, but they're a great team. They have great hitters who hit solidly. I did the best I could and so did the pitchers behind me. We feel happy about how we played."Morgan Montemayor (24-3) had a complete-game shutout, allowing only four hits, while striking out six.
Megan Wiggins, Hesson and Laura Trout all picked up two hits for the Bulldogs. Taylor Schlopy had two RBI and Wiggins had one.