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Poythress power surge leads #1 UGA over Kennesaw State


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Poythress power surge leads UGA over Kennesaw State

By TIM TUCKER

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Athens —Like all of Georgia’s baseball opponents recently, Kennesaw State went big game hunting Tuesday, aiming to snare a team ranked No. 1 in the nation.

The Bulldogs proved too powerful.

Seven Georgia home runs, including three by first baseman Rich Poythress, made the difference in the Bulldogs’ 11-7 victory over the Owls at Foley Field.

Poythress became just the sixth player in UGA history to hit three homers in a game, the first since Jeff Keppinger — now with the Houston Astros — in 2001.

Making Tuesday’s performance even more special for Poythress: His 9-year-old brother, Jared, got a close-up view as the Bulldogs’ batboy.

“That was pretty cool,” Poythress said. “We may have to stick him in the suitcase and take him to Oxford.”

He was referring to the Bulldogs’ upcoming weekend series at Ole Miss.

Poythress almost had the first four-homer game in UGA history: His first-inning double slammed against the center-field wall, just shy of leaving the park.

“Someone told me in the dugout [later] that I was a foot away from four,” said Poythress, not complaining.

Ranked No. 1 in this week’s ESPN/USA Today poll, Georgia won for the 32nd time in 40 games this season. Kennesaw State entered the game with 10 wins in its past 12 games and was seeking a signature victory over an in-state power.

“I get excited anytime we play anyone else from the state of Georgia,” said Kennesaw right fielder Clint Roques, who went 3-for-3 with a homer. “I felt like we swung good. They just swung better.”

Poythress, who swung best, said the Bulldogs know their No. 1 ranking makes them a bull’s-eye — particularly for nearby opponents.

“Those are guys we grew up with,” he said of Kennesaw’s players. “You know they are coming in here ready to play, so that makes it easier for us to get ready to play. That’s a very good team over there.”

The persistent Owls scored three times in the eighth inning to get within a run at 8-7. But Georgia got all three runs back in the bottom of the inning on homers by Levi Hyams, Matt Cerione and, again, Poythress, who now has 20 for the season.

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