College baseball season got underway in the Classic City on Friday afternoon as the Diamond Dogs hosted Oregon State. The defending national champion Beavers were responsible for eliminating the Red and Black from the 2006 College World Series, so the home team had payback on its mind.
The game got off to a good start, as the Bulldogs' Nathan Moreau recorded a pair of strikeouts in the course of a scoreless first inning. In the bottom of the frame, Georgia leadoff hitter Jonathan Wyatt got into scoring position on an error and a stolen base, but he made it no farther ere the side was retired.
Following a scoreless second stanza, the Beavers drew first blood in the top of the third inning when Chris Hopkins drew a walk, advanced to third on a Darwin Barney double, and was brought home by a Mitch Canham groundout to make it a 1-0 game. A Mike Freeman single and a Wyatt walk were squandered in the bottom half of the inning as the Diamond Dogs once again stranded a runner in scoring position.
Darwin Barney is O.S.U.'s shortstop and he should not be confused with either of these two fellows.
The visiting team padded its lead in the fourth frame, taking a 2-0 advantage after a Jason Ogata base on balls was followed up by back-to-back fielder's choice plays, which advanced the runner home. The Red and Black would not find their way onto the scoreboard until the bottom of the fifth inning, when a Wyatt walk, a Travis Parrott single, and a Gordon Beckham home run gave the Diamond Dogs a 3-2 lead.
Not content to rest on their laurels, the Red and Black tacked on two more runs in the sixth stanza, as Ryan Peisel led off with a triple to left field and came home on a Matt Cerione single to center. Cerione subsequently came around to score an unearned run of his own to make it 5-2 and Georgia added to its lead with a solo homer by Beckham in the seventh.
Things were looking good for the home team until the top of the eighth frame. Koa Kahalehoe and Canham drew bases on balls, setting the table for Mike Lissman, whose left field double brought two runs around and cut the lead to 6-4. Oregon State then broke the contest open with a six-run ninth inning in which the wheels came off for the Diamond Dogs.
Jordan Lennerton led off with a single to right field, then advanced to second on a passed ball. After Drew George walked, a Kahalehoe sacrifice moved the runners over. Barney was hit by a pitch and Canham took an R.B.I. base on balls. A base hit by Lissman scored two more before a Joey Wong walk loaded the bases once again.
Jordan Lennerton is the Beavers' first baseman and he is a completely different Jordan from the pregnant T.V. executive on "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip."
Georgia's change of pitchers was unavailing, as the next two Beaver batters walked and an additional unearned run was added on an error. Now trailing 10-6, the Diamond Dogs went to work in the home half of the final frame, following up a Beckham strikeout with a Joey Lewis single to get a man aboard. Peisel's groundout put Lewis on second and a Matt Olson walk allowed a Cerione double to cut the deficit to 10-8 . . . but, alas, Cerione was thrown out at third to conclude the contest.
Moreau had a solid outing as the starter, going four innings and allowing a single earned run. Nick Montgomery was solid in relief, providing two scoreless innings' worth of work, but the seven earned runs allowed by Adam McDaniel and the normally uber-reliable Joshua Fields killed Georgia's chances of opening the season with a victory.
Instead, the Diamond Dogs had to settle for a come-from-ahead loss in which the Red and Black matched the Beavers error for error (with three apiece) and came up short in spite of outhitting the opposition, 10-6. This was not an auspicious start for the Bulldogs, but tomorrow is another day . . . and Georgia will have another chance to record a win against an Oregon State squad that showed that it still has some teeth after last year's College World Series title.
Saturday's first pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. at Foley Field.