Ere we get to this evening's baseball action, I would like to express my thanks to Kevin Donahue at Fanblogs, as well as to the folks at the ESPN and TigerForums message boards, for turning my Big 12-S.E.C. Pigskin Challenge posting into one of my most popular offerings since the "College GameDay" Drinking Game. Welcome!
I should add, as well, that, while I followed the game, I also was listening to EDSBS Live, on which I believe I had the distinctions of being (a) the lone sober caller after Best Mainstream Media Blog runner-up John Lopez and (b) the only caller Orson and Peter forgot to mention when recapping the show at the end. (In Orson's defense, he was drunk and I was quite forgettable. You may assess the correctness of each of these assertions by clicking here to listen to the rebroadcast.)
My choice for retro babe: Raquel Welch, who won a close contest over Ann-Margret, with honorable mention going to Veronica Hamel from "Hill Street Blues."
All that said, the Diamond Dogs arrived at Turner Field to take on the Yellow Jackets and the contest began with Ryan Peisel drawing a base on balls on four straight pitches. Jonathan Wyatt and Gordon Beckham walked, as well, to load the bases for Rich Poythress, whose infield fly produced the first out of the contest. Fortunately, Matt Olson doubled to left center field to plate a trio of runs. Although the next two Bulldog batters struck out, the Red and Black had claimed an improbable 3-0 lead.
The Ramblin' Wreck went three up and three down in the bottom of the frame, putting the Classic City Canines back on the offensive. After Travis Parrott's leadoff bunt attempt yielded an out, Mike Freeman worked the count full before doubling down the left field line. Following a Georgia Tech pitching change, Peisel doubled, as well, moving the Georgia second baseman to third.
Wyatt reached on a throwing error, scoring Freeman, then a pair of wild pitches moved the remaining baserunners around, bringing the Bulldog third baseman home. After Beckham walked, Poythress hit into a double play to end the inning with the Red and Black leading 5-0.
The Golden Tornado once again went in order in the bottom of the second stanza, after which Olson led off the top of the third canto by punching the first pitch he saw through the left side for a base hit. The Diamond Dog right fielder stole second base and took third on a Joey Lewis groundout, but he made it no closer to home, as the next two Georgia batters recorded outs.
Georgia catcher Joey Lewis went one for five, but his aunt, Shari, and her puppet companion, Lamb Chop, were proud of him, anyway.
Patrick Long and Jeff Ussery began the home half of the frame by drawing back-to-back walks. Jason Haniger's sacrifice bunt moved the runners over, then Danny Payne doubled down the left field line to score a pair of runs. After Michael Fisher struck out, Matt Wieters put the first pitch thrown his way through the left side for an R.B.I. single. Wally Crancer flied out to end the inning with the Red and Black clinging to a 5-3 lead.
Freeman led off the fourth frame with a first-pitch single, but the next three Georgia batters registered outs to bring Georgia Tech back up to bat. Luke Murton began the bottom of the inning with a base hit and, although Long moved him over to second with a single, Chris House's flyout, coupled with Ussery's and Haniger's strikeouts, stranded the Ramblin' Wreck baserunners.
With Georgia's lead now in peril, Poythress began the fifth frame with a double and Olson followed that up with a home run. The remaining Bulldog batters flied out, struck out, and grounded out in succession, but the Red and Black had extended their lead to 7-3. Georgia Tech had only a Fisher walk to show for the home half of the inning.
Freeman drew a base on balls at the outset of the sixth stanza, but the Georgia second baseman was thrown out on his way to his accustomed position. Nevertheless, Peisel singled up the middle and took second base on a Wyatt groundout. Consecutive singles by Beckham and Poythress scored the Georgia third baseman and put the Red and Black shortstop 90 feet from home plate.
Bulldog second baseman Mike Freeman went three for four and scored a run, but does he have a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from M.I.T. like his uncle, Gordon?
Following a Yellow Jacket pitching change, Olson doubled up the middle to score Beckham and move Poythress to third. Lewis's groundout concluded the Bulldogs' at-bat with the Red and Black leading 9-3. The Yellow Jackets went three up and three down in the bottom of the sixth.
A two-out single by Freeman and a walk by Peisel went to waste in the top of the seventh frame when Wyatt grounded out to bring Ussery to the plate. The Golden Tornado second baseman opened the proceedings with a triple and scored on a Haniger groundout. Payne's ensuing double resulted in another Ramblin' Wreck run when Wieters singled up the middle. Although a pair of groundouts prevented further Yellow Jacket scoring, Georgia Tech had cut the lead to 9-5.
The Diamond Dogs answered in the top of the eighth frame. Following a Beckham strikeout, Poythress punched a triple into right center field and scored on a wild pitch after Olson watched strike three sail into the catcher's mitt. Lewis's single came to naught when Matt Cerione became the third strikeout victim of the inning, but the Red and Black had doubled up the Ramblin' Wreck in hits (14-7) and in runs (10-5).
Trevor Holder succeeded Justin Earls on the mound at the start of the home half of the inning and he began by striking out Murton. Trouble came the reliever's way when Curtis Dupart turned Holder's second pitch into a double. No sooner did the Georgia hurler strike out Long than he turned right around and surrendered consecutive triples to Ussery and Nick Scherer to score a pair of runs.
Georgia Tech catcher Nick Scherer went one for one with an R.B.I. It's possible that, at one time, he also was married to Ian Ziering.
Although Payne finally flied out to end the inning, Georgia Tech had closed the deficit to 10-7. The first two Bulldog batters of the ninth canto struck out and grounded out, respectively, but, when Peisel singled up the middle, the Golden Tornado sent Wieters to the mound to pitch. The onetime designated hitter threw the ball but one time, inducing Wyatt to hit into the fielder's choice that brought the Yellow Jackets back to the plate and sent Joshua Fields to the hill.
Fisher led off the bottom of the ninth inning by popping up to register the first out of the frame. After Wieters punched a base hit into right field, Crancer hit into a double play to conclude the contest and give the Diamond Dogs what very well may have been their biggest victory of the season.
The Red and Black scored runs in five different innings and played error-free baseball in the field. Although the Classic City Canines left men on base in every inning except one, they still turned 15 hits into 10 runs. Matt Olson had a monster night, going four for five and batting in six runs. Gordon Beckham and Jonathan Wyatt each posted an R.B.I., whereas Ryan Peisel went three for four and scored a trio of runs. Rich Poythress rounded out the top of the Georgia order with a three-for-five, two-run night.
Although the five Georgia hurlers surrendered 11 hits and seven runs, the Red and Black never trailed and starter Jason Leaver got the win after giving up three earned runs on two hits during his three innings' worth of work. While I would have preferred it had the Diamond Dogs not allowed the Yellow Jackets to score four runs in the last three frames, Joshua Fields got the save.
This was a big win for a struggling program and, while Georgia's performance was far from perfect, the Bulldogs should take at least a measure of momentum into Wednesday's contest in Cullowhee, N.C.