Although the final score seemed more suited to an S.E.C. football game from the 1970s than to an S.E.C. baseball game in the 21st century, it really is the case that the Diamond Dogs defeated the Bat Cats by a 16-10 margin in a second-round elimination game in the conference tournament.
Throughout much of the contest, Kentucky was remarkably consistent offensively. In the first inning, consecutive doubles by Sean Coughlin and Ryan Strieby resulted in a single Bat Cat run. In the second inning, a Billy Grace double, a Ryan Wilkes sacrifice, and a wild pitch resulted in a single Bat Cat run. In the third inning, an Antone DeJesus double, a Collin Cowgill sacrifice, and a wild pitch resulted in . . . a single Bat Cat run.
Do you start to see the pattern? The bottom of the fourth frame was no different, as Grace, who went two for four and scored a pair of runs, led off with a base hit and Wilkes brought him home with an R.B.I. double, giving Kentucky a lone run for the fourth straight inning. Likewise, the fifth inning saw a single Wildcat run on a solo shot to left by Strieby, who went yard on a payoff pitch.
Georgia starting pitcher Brooks Brown fell one out shy of completing six innings' worth of work, giving up five earned runs on ten hits, but, after he surrendered a double to DeJesus in the sixth stanza, he was relieved by Rip Warren, who kept the Bat Cats off the scoreboard . . . so, naturally, to make up for it, Kentucky scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh when John Shelby put a two-run shot over the left field wall.
In the meantime, the Diamond Dogs got off to a slow start, producing no runs in the first two frames and generating only one in the third when Matthew Dunn, Jonathan Wyatt, and Gordon Beckham all recorded base hits over the course of the top of the inning.
Artist's rendering of how Kentucky's pitching made Georgia's batters look in the first three innings.
It wasn't until the fourth stanza that the Red and Black began to take off, though. Jason Jacobs turned the second pitch he saw into a single and Kyle Keen turned the second pitch he saw into a double. Ryan Peisel took a ball and a strike before putting the third pitch into center field for a base hit, scoring Jacobs. Dunn took a ball and a strike before putting the third pitch into left center field, scoring Keen.
After Wyatt reached on a fielder's choice bunt, Joey Side swung at the second pitch thrown to him and singled to short. When Beckham reached on a throwing error, Dunn and Wyatt both scored, then a wild pitch plated Side, as well, staking the Diamond Dogs to a 6-3 lead midway through the fourth frame.
The Red and Black picked up where they left off in the top of the fifth inning. Jacobs led off with a single, then Keen parked a base hit in right field. Peisel sacrificed to move the runners over and Dunn put the first pitch he saw through the left side to bring the Georgia catcher home. Following a Wyatt walk and a pitching change, Side plated Keen on a fielder's choice and Beckham's subsequent single brought Dunn the rest of the way around, as well.
Josh Morris jumped on the second pitch thrown his way, producing a base hit, then Bobby Felmy concluded the scoring with a single to right field, thereby allowing Side to plate the fourth Georgia run of the inning.
Now, that's more like it! (Photograph courtesy University of Georgia Athletic Association.)
After an uneventful sixth frame, the Diamond Dogs went right back to work in the seventh, which was opened by Wyatt with a leadoff single. A Side flyout and another Wildcat pitching change preceded a first-pitch single to left by Beckham. Wyatt took third on a wild pitch before Morris was plunked and Felmy scored Wyatt on an R.B.I. groundout. Jacobs's ensuing base hit to left center field scored both Beckham and Morris to open up a 13-5 advantage for the Bulldogs.
Neither team plated any runs in the eighth inning and the Red and Black padded their lead in the ninth frame. Matt Robinson began the ballgame's final stanza as U.K.'s seventh hurler of the night and, with his first pitch, he gave up a single to Morris. After Robinson was pulled and Felmy lined out, Jacobs moved Morris to third with a base hit to right center field.
This brought yet another Kentucky pitcher to the mound. Peisel sandwiched a fielder's choice between walks allowed to Keen and Matt Robbins, with the latter base on balls scoring another run. Accordingly, the bases were loaded when Wyatt punched a base hit into left center field to plate Keen and Peisel.
Down 16-7, the Bat Cats pulled out all the stops, sending Brian Hastings and Mike Brown to the plate as pinch hitters and being rewarded with a double by each. Those efforts, coupled with a Georgia fielding error, a Matt McKinney base on balls, and a Wilkes sacrifice fly, generated another trio of runs, but a Shelby strikeout and a DeJesus groundout gave U.K. three outs to match their three runs and the game ended with a Bulldog victory.
During the postgame press conference, Matt Damon explained to reporters why he was the only guy in America named "Matt" who did not play in the Georgia-Kentucky game.
Georgia's 22 hits were the third most ever by a single team in an S.E.C. tournament game and the 37 hits put up by the two teams combined set a new Southeastern Conference tourney record.
Tomorrow afternoon, the Diamond Dogs will square off with South Carolina as a result of the Gamecocks' 11-1 loss to sixth-seeded Vanderbilt earlier this evening.