The second game of what the Diamond Dogs now hoped would be a three-game set with South Carolina got underway at Foley Field at 4:00 on Sunday afternoon. There was a sense of desperation in the Georgia camp, yet the class displayed by the Gamecock faithful gave the Classic City Canines ample incentive to succeed.
Even so, the Red and Black accomplished little in the top of the first frame. Gordon Beckham turned the first pitch he saw into a double, but no other Bulldog reached base in the top of the inning, so the contest remained scoreless as the Gamecocks came up to bat for the first time. It did not remain so for much longer.
Gordon Beckham accounted for what little offense Georgia was able to muster in the early going. (Photograph courtesy University of Georgia Athletic Association.)
After the first two South Carolina batters recorded outs, Justin Smoak drew a base on balls and advanced to second when Phil Disher reached first on an error. Andrew Crisp's ensuing double plated an unearned run, then Robbie Grinestaff knocked a single to right field that scored two more.
The first inning ended without additional scoring and no member of either team made it out of the batter's box in the second stanza. The third frame got off to a promising start when Ryan Peisel led off with a single to center field for the Diamond Dogs, but the Georgia third baseman made it only as far as second before his teammates recorded the three outs necessary to end the threat.
The Palmetto State Poultry picked up where they left off in the bottom of the third. Smoak walked, Crisp doubled to right field, Grinestaff was hit by a pitch, and a wild pitch allowed everyone to advance one base, scoring an additional Gamecock run. Fortunately, the requisite number of outs thereafter was attained, so the game got no farther out of hand for the Red and Black than 4-0.
In the fourth frame, Georgia at long last began to exert itself offensively. Josh Morris led off with a double and Bobby Felmy brought him around to score with a single up the middle. A Jason Jacobs home run to left field tacked on two more runs and the inning was kept alive when Kyle Keen walked and Peisel got a base hit.
With the lead thus imperiled, the Gamecocks turned to Andrew Cruse, who relieved Mike Cisco on the mound and promptly threw the wild pitch that allowed Peisel to take second and Keen to advance to third. Matthew Dunn put down the sacrifice bunt that scored Keen, whereupon another Cruse wild pitch scored Peisel. After Jonathan Wyatt reached base on a Gamecock error, Joey Side moved him over to third with a base hit to right field.
With Cisco's stock plummeting . . .
. . . the Palmetto State Poultry had no choice but to turn to Cruse.
Unfortunately, a Beckham strikeout and a Morris fielder's choice ended the inning, but not before the Bulldogs had taken a 5-4 lead. Emboldened, Brooks Brown bore down, resuming the mound to throw five pitches, resulting in three flyouts. This brought the Red and Black back up to bat and Felmy capitalized on the opportunity thus presented by punching Cruse's first pitch of the fifth frame over the center field wall to add an insurance run to the Georgia tally.
Jacobs turned the next pitch into a bunt for a base hit, which brought Matt Olson to the plate as a pinch hitter. Although Olson grounded out, he advanced the Georgia catcher to second base and Peisel's ensuing groundout moved him over to third. Dunn walked on four straight pitches to put runners at the corners for Wyatt, who singled up the middle to score Jacobs and make it 7-4.
The inning continued when Side added a base hit of his own to load the bases for Beckham, but the Bulldog shortstop struck out looking on three straight pitches. South Carolina once again took its turn at the plate and the Big Chickens commenced the bottom of the inning with a base on balls drawn by Smoak.
Although the next two Gamecock batters recorded outs, Crisp managed to move the South Carolina first baseman into scoring position, thereby setting the stage for a Grinestaff single to cut the Georgia lead to 7-5. The fifth frame ended one batter later with the score unchanged.
The sixth inning began auspiciously for the Diamond Dogs, as Morris opened with a single to left field and Felmy drew a base on balls. After Jacobs accomplished nothing by flying out to right, Olson moved the Red and Black first baseman to third by flying out to left. Alas, Peisel's ensuing groundout ended the inning and left Morris stranded 90 feet from home.
Courteney . . . phonetically the only Cox to be viewed favorably in Athens this weekend.
Brown continued on the mound for the Bulldogs in the second half of the sixth stanza and he did his job effectively, sitting down each of the first three batters he faced in succession. The seventh inning thereafter got underway when Dunn put the first pitch of the frame into right center field for a base hit. Wyatt also singled, and, despite a strikeout by Side and a flyout by Beckham, the Red and Black nevertheless managed to generate an additional run when Morris singled to center field to score Dunn and chase Cruse from the mound.
Alex Farotto came on in relief and threw one pitch to record the final out, then Rip Warren took over the pitching duties for the Bulldogs in the second half of the seventh stanza. He retired the side, three up and three down, to put Georgia back on the offensive to open the eighth frame. Jacobs led off with a walk and Matt Robbins put the first pitch he saw into center field to move the Red and Black catcher over to third.
Peisel's subsequent double scored two more runs and, after Dunn's sacrifice bunt moved the Bulldog third baseman to his accustomed position and Wyatt singled up the middle to plate another run, Farotto was pulled in favor of Brandon Todd, who induced Side to ground into a double play to send the contest to the bottom of the eighth inning with Georgia holding a six-run lead.
Warren would allow the Palmetto State Poultry to come no closer on the scoreboard, as he sent the first three batters he saw back to the dugout and sent the contest to the final scheduled stanza. The Diamond Dogs went in short order to start the ninth inning; Beckham struck out swinging and, after Morris was plunked, Felmy grounded into a double play.
The Big Chickens came to bat with a final opportunity to close the gap, at which point Joshua Fields was called upon to slam the door in the Gamecocks' faces. Pinch hitter Mark Stanley watched the third strike sail by to lead off the inning and Reese Havens popped up to the shortstop to record the second out.
Pinch hitter Drew Martin then was given the unenviable task of getting a rally underway with two men out and no men aboard . . . and Fields showed him all the mercy exhibited by Nigel Powers when facing the lone remaining incompetent guard among Dr. Evil's armed henchmen, striking out Martin to give Georgia the win and send the series to a deciding third game on Monday.
Joshua Fields's postgame routine.
The Diamond Dogs outhit the Palmetto State Poultry, 19-4, on the strength of fine performances at the plate by Morris, Peisel, Side, and Wyatt, each of whom belted out three hits on the day. The rubber game is scheduled to begin in Athens at 7:00 tomorrow evening.