Braves 2, Georgia 1
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Jermaine Dye drove in the tie-breaking run with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning Thursday and the World Series champion Atlanta Braves opened the exhibition season by beating the University of Georgia 2-1.
The Braves started their regular lineup except for using Tyler Houston at catcher instead of Javier Lopez. Atlanta, however, rested its top pitchers.
``I learned from George Steinbrenner: Never lose to a college team,″ joked Atlanta manager Bobby Cox, who used five minor-league pitchers. ``There weren’t a lot of hits on either side, but we wiggled out of some situations where we should have given up more runs.″
Shane Pangle drove in the Bulldogs’ only run in the second with a single off starter Rachaad Stewart, acquired in the trade that sent Kent Mercker to Baltimore. Stewart was shaky, allowing three hits and two walks in two innings.
The Braves tied it in the bottom half on an RBI groundout by Jeff Blauser, hoping to rebound from a disappointing season in which he hit just .211.
After the regulars left the game, Dye’s sacrifice fly in the sixth scored Robert Smith and made a winner of Carl Shultz. Lee Daniels pitched the ninth for a save. Jarrett Bridges, the fifth of seven Georgia pitchers, took the loss.
``We threw strikes and played good defense,″ Georgia coach Steve Webber said. ``That’s why the game was close.″
Notes: The Braves are 4-0 in their exhibition meetings against Georgia. Atlanta won 5-0 in 1988, 2-0 in ’91 and 10-5 in ‘94. ... Cox inserted Mark Lemke into the No. 2 spot in the batting order, continuing a trend that began in the second half of last season. Lemke, who had been the Braves’ eighth hitter for several seasons, flip-flopped with Blauser in ’95. Blauser batted seventh Thursday, followed by Houston. ... The Bulldogs, who usually use aluminum bats, had to adjust to hitting with wood. ``It was difficult for our guys to adjust,″ Webber said. ``But our hitters did a good job with it.″