Friday, June 1, 1990
In the College World Series battle between Southeastern Conference Bulldogs, Georgia's Dave Fleming was top dog.
The 6-foot-3 junior left-hander mastered Mississippi State again Friday night - shutting MSU out for the second time this season - as Georgia won its first-ever CWS game 3-0 before a crowd of 12,732 at Rosenblatt Stadium.
Fleming didn't allow a runner past first base in pitching a four-hitter. He allowed singles to open the first, fifth and sixth innings, but the Georgia defense followed with double plays after each hit.
"Under the circumstances," Fleming said, "this is definitely the biggest game of my career and the best game I've pitched."
Mississippi State knows what it's like to face Fleming at his best. The Bulldogs had scored in 177 straight games until Fleming pitched Georgia to a 9-0 win April 28.
The Bulldogs scored in their next 19 games before Fleming gave them another goose egg.
"The whole story of tonight's ballgame is we just happened to draw Dave Fleming," Mississippi State Coach Ron Polk said. "He was an outstanding pitcher."
Fleming, 12-5, struck out 10 in pitching the first CWS shutout since May 31, 1987, when Florida State's Chris Pollack blanked Arizona State 3-0. Fleming struck on a career-high 14 against Mississippi State on a nine-hitter in the regular season.
"He's just got our number right now," Polk said. "Hopefully, I won't have to see him again this year."
Fleming's performance spoiled a five-hitter by Bobby Reed, who dropped to 15-3 after striking out six Georgia batters and walking only two.
Fleming, who went 2-3 in his next five starts after his first shutout against MSU, said he can't explain his success against the SEC rival.
"It's just one of those things in sports," he said. "You have teams you do well against and you have certain teams you don't do well against, also.
"For me, it's Mississippi State that I've done well against lately, and LSU and Jacksonville are teams I've never beaten in my career."
Fourth-seeded Georgia, 49-18, advanced to a 7:07 p.m. game Sunday night against top-seeded Stanford, a 5-4 10-inning winner over Georgia Southern in Friday's first game.
Fifth-seeded Mississippi State, 49-20, plays Georgia Southern at 3:07 Sunday in an elimination game.
Georgia, 3-1 this season against Mississippi State, took a 1-0 lead on Jeff Cooper's home run in the third inning, manufactured a run in the fifth on Joey Alfonso's base running and added one for insurance with help from a Mississippi State error in the eighth.
"Bobby Reed pitched an outstanding game," Georgia Coach Steve Webber said. "When you look at it, Jeff's home run was about the only hard hit ball he gave up."
Alfonso, a senior second baseman, led off the fifth with a double to right-center, advanced to third on a grounder to third and scored on a wild pitch.
"Joey put on a spectacular display of base running," Webber said.
Alfonso said he hit a weak line drive, but thought he had a chance for a double because he expected the wind to knock the ball down in front of the outfielders.
"On the ball to third," he said, "he didn't look me all the way to the base, so I thought maybe I would take a chance to get something going and make it to third.
"It eventually paid off."
Alfonso also made the defensive play of the game in the top of the fifth when he ran down Jim Robinson's pop in shallow left with a leaping over-the-head catch.
Alfonso, a wide receiver on the Georgia football team in 1988, resembled one as he held on to the ball, although it was sticking out the top of his glove while he completed a somersault.
"It was a tough play," Alfonso said. "The wind was really wicked out there."
Right fielder Bruce Chick also chased the ball.
"I thought Bruce was going to get it," Alfonso said, "Fortunately, he gave me enough time to let me know he couldn't get to it.
"I just tried to stay with it. It landed in ice-cream cone position."
Cooper continued his hot hitting. The Georgia third baseman, coming off a 4-for-5 performance with a home run, double and seven RBIs in the Northeast Regional championship game, singled in the first and homered in the third against Mississippi State.
"I usually go in streaks where I hit the ball well," he said. "Sometimes I get in a groove where I'm seeing the ball well, and I'm seeing it well right now."