Remember how nervous I was yesterday? Well, multiply that by about five and you'll have a pretty good idea of how anxious I was about Saturday's game between Georgia and Florida in Gainesville.
As before, my fretting was unconnected to any external referent, at least initially. The game began with a Jonathan Wyatt walk, followed by a Joey Side single. A subsequent fielding error by the Gators allowed base hits by Bobby Felmy and Matt Olson to plate runs and give the Diamond Dogs a 4-0 lead heading into the bottom of the first inning.
Brooks Brown drew the pitching assignment for the Red and Black and he pitched four innings in which he allowed some baserunners yet surrendered no runs. There was some wailing and gnashing of teeth on my part when a leadoff walk by Matthew Dunn came to naught in the second inning and a scoring opportunity was squandered, but the addition of insurance runs in the third and fourth innings soothed my worries to some extent.
At the halfway point of the contest, all was looking well for the visiting team, as the Bulldogs held a 6-0 advantage on the hometown Gators. Then came the bottom of the fifth inning.
Brandon McArthur got matters underway with a single to left. Adam Davis took Brooks Brown to a full count before reaching base on a fielder's choice. A fielding error by Georgia put Stephen Barton aboard, then a Matt LaPorta home run to right center field put three runs across the plate, halving the Bulldogs' advantage.
David Cash took the first pitch thrown to him and put it into center field for a single, then Brian Jeroloman walked to bring the tying run to the plate. When Bryson Barber was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Brooks Brown was instructed to grab some pine and it fell to Rip Warren to get the Diamond Dogs out of the inning. This Warren did, recording the third out ere further damage could be done.
Fortunately for my stomach lining and my central nervous system, the scoring ceased for the next couple of innings and, when next a run was placed up on the scoreboard, it was added to the tally of the Red and Black.
In the eighth inning, Kyle Keen was brought on to pinch hit for Matt Olson. On a full count, Keen drew a walk and, three batters later, he came around to score. The ninth frame opened with a Gordon Beckham strikeout and a Josh Morris lineout, but things got better from there. Bobby Felmy singled, Jason Jacobs doubled, and Kyle Keen singled to tack two more runs onto the Bulldogs' score.
Georgia carried a 9-3 advantage into the bottom of the final stanza and I was spared any unnecessary angst when Adam Davis and Stephen Barton each went down swinging and Matt LaPorta ended the game with a routine groundout on the first pitch he saw.
Despite committing a pair of errors, the Diamond Dogs outhit the hometown Gators 15-6. With the win, the Classic City Canines improved their overall record to 27-16 and inched a game closer to .500 in conference play, bringing their S.E.C. ledger to 9-11.
When considered in tandem with the results of Wednesday's game against Georgia Tech and last night's outing versus Florida, this latest Red and Black victory might give the impression that Georgia is beginning to look like the team the Bulldogs appeared to be at the start of the season . . . it might give that impression, I would hasten to add, to a fan who had confidence in this team . . . which I do not, much as I might like to, because I know that my faith in my baseball team is what causes the Diamond Dogs to lose.
Accordingly, I will greet Sunday afternoon's series-ending game in Gainesville with pessimism and trepidation, rooting hard for the Red and Black while battling for all I am worth to hold at bay my increasingly strong inclination to put my faith in (and thereby doom) the Diamond Dogs.