The Diamond Dogs, fresh from three wins in their previous four outings, hosted Winthrop at Foley Field on Tuesday afternoon with the simple goal of evening their record at 4-4 for the young baseball season.
The Red and Black's chances of accomplishing their objective appeared poor in the early going, however. The Eagles leapt out to an early lead, commencing in the first inning when Chris Carrara was hit by a pitch. The Winthrop shortstop promptly stole second base, setting the stage for a Phil Carey single to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
Kevin Nolan's subsequent sacrifice moved the Eagle second baseman into scoring position. After Tommy Lentz drew a base on balls and Billy Froehlich grounded out yet advanced both baserunners, a Louis Ullrich single and an ensuing error allowed two runs to score. For their part, the Red and Black had nothing more than a Jonathan Wyatt double to show for the home half of the inning.
Kevin Nolan went 0 for 2 at the plate on Tuesday. He also stunk as the anchor for "Weekend Update."
Following a scoreless second frame in which John Murrian doubled for the Eagles and Joey Lewis singled for the Red and Black, Winthrop went back on the offensive. Following a Lentz groundout, Froehlich belted out a base hit, advanced to second on an error, and took both third and home on wild pitches. Both Bryn Henderson and Tyler McBride drew walks, but no further damage was done, leaving the home team in a 4-0 hole.
The balance of the third, and the entirety of the fourth, passed without additional scoring, although, while the Diamond Dogs recorded five flyouts but just one hit in the bottom halves of that pair of frames, the Eagles persisted in finding their way onto the basepaths, as Carey singled, Nolan walked, and Lentz was plunked.
In the top of the fifth stanza, consecutive base hits by Henderson and McBride enabled Carrara to plate two runs with a double to center field that made the deficit 6-0. The Red and Black managed only a Mike Freeman single in the bottom of the inning, but Winthrop had just a Nolan strikeout, a Lentz pop-up, and a Froehlich groundout to show for the top of the sixth.
Tyler McBride went for 1 for 4 at the plate and scored a run. He also did a fine job on "Boston Public."
Georgia began to show signs of life offensively in the bottom of the inning. Ryan Peisel led off with a double to center field. Wyatt walked. Gordon Beckham popped up, but Luke Stewart and Lewis reached on errors, scoring Peisel and Wyatt before Matt Olson grounded into a double play. The rally was squelched for the time being, but the score now stood at 6-2.
The two teams combined for four strikeouts in a scoreless seventh inning, with the Eagles tallying two more in the top of the eighth before the Diamond Dogs began to get serious about defending their turf in the home half of the frame. Peisel led off with a walk and Wyatt promptly brought him home with a double to center field. A wild pitch brought the Georgia center fielder 90 feet closer to home, then Beckham brought him back to the dugout with a double of his own.
Stewart flied out to right field, bringing Beckham to third. Lewis's subsequent single scored the Red and Black shortstop, after which a series of substitutions came to naught, as the pinch hitters and pinch runners put into the game at that point produced no additional scoring, yet still the Diamond Dogs had cut the Eagles' lead to 6-5.
Winthrop squandered a 6-0 lead over the Diamond Dogs . . . but, really, what did you expect from a school named for an obstinate Puritan who was voted into and out of the governorship of the Massachusetts Bay Colony a dozen times?
The Eagles sought to pad their dwindling lead in the top of the ninth, but the inning opened with a pair of groundouts to the mound, rendering Eddie Tisdale's last-gasp single virtually superfluous, as McBride watched strike three sail by in the next at-bat. This kept the door open for the Red and Black, who promptly pummeled their way through it.
Freeman opened the proceedings with a double and Matt Cerione put down the sacrifice bunt that brought the Georgia second baseman to third, allowing Peisel's base hit to center field to tie the game. Not content to play for extra innings, Wyatt singled, as well, putting the Bulldog third baseman in scoring position. Beckham then hit into a fielder's choice, but an error in the field allowed Peisel to score the run which, while unearned, nevertheless was decisive.
The Red and Black put on a gritty, gutsy performance on Tuesday evening, led in the batter's box by Mike Freeman (2 for 4, 1 run), Joey Lewis (2 for 4, 2 R.B.I.), Ryan Peisel (2 for 4, 3 runs, 1 R.B.I.), and Jonathan Wyatt (3 for 4, 2 runs, 1 R.B.I.) and on the mound by Justin Earls, Jason Leaver, and Ryan Woolley, who combined to pitch four innings of one-hit, shutout ball.
It is worrisome that the Diamond Dogs' starting pitching got rocked, but, at the end of the day, the team found a way to win, clawing its way back to .500 before welcoming U.S.C. to the Classic City for a three-game series this weekend.