Wednesday night saw the Diamond Dogs home for the deciding game of their set against in-state rival Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets won the first round, but the Red and Black rebounded to take the second game, setting up a rubber match at Foley Field earlier this evening.
Because the Classic City Canines need all the good fortune they can get, I am including the obligatory lucky photograph of Kristin Davis at the outset of the contest.
The inaugural inning commenced with Trevor Holder on the pitcher's mound and Danny Payne in the batter's box. The Georgia hurler won, striking out not only the Georgia Tech center fielder but also the next two Yellow Jackets he faced, as well. The Golden Tornado starter was not similarly successful in the bottom of the first frame, which Ryan Peisel led off with a double.
Jonathan Wyatt followed with a double of his own to give the home team a 1-0 lead. Gordon Beckham's ensuing groundout moved the Bulldog center fielder to third and, after Rich Poythress drew a base on balls, Matt Olson reached on the fielder's choice that cut down the Red and Black first baseman but allowed Wyatt to score. When Matt Robbins hit into a fielder's choice, as well, the inning concluded but the Diamond Dogs held the advantage.
Wally Crancer began the top of the second stanza with a bang, driving a home run to right field. His teammates thereafter went in sequence on a lineout, a strikeout, and a flyout, but the Ramblin' Wreck's deficit had been halved. Although Joey Lewis belted out a base hit in the bottom of the canto and advanced to second on a Mike Freeman groundout, a strikeout by Travis Parrott and a popup by Peisel prevented the Georgia second baseman from scoring.
Georgia Tech tried to get something going in the visitors' half of the third inning, as Jason Garofalo registered a base hit and Payne drew a walk, but groundouts by Jason Haniger and Matt Wieters, coupled with a Patrick Long lineout, caused the Yellow Jacket scoring opportunity to go to waste. The Classic City Canines had only a trio of flyouts to right, center, and left fields, respectively, to show for the bottom of the third frame.
Georgia Tech second baseman Jason Garofalo went one for three, scored one run, and drew a walk. Also, he was once declared the "Funniest Person in Rhode Island."
Crancer reached base on an error to start the fourth stanza and he advanced to second when Tony Plagman walked. Although the Georgia Tech right fielder found himself in scoring position with no one out, he moved no nearer to home plate, thanks to a flyout, a strikeout, and an unsuccessful steal attempt. Likewise, the bottom of the canto saw Robbins and Parrott reaching base on a walk and a single, respectively, but the threat was ended when Olson grounded out and Lewis hit into a double play.
The Ramblin' Wreck got it into gear in the top of the fifth inning, starting with a Haniger single to left field. Garofalo got on base by virtue of a Georgia miscue and Payne sacrificed the runners over to put two Yellow Jackets in scoring position and force Holder from the field. The Bulldog starter had faced 19 batters, striking out five and surrendering three hits.
Alex McRee assumed the hurling duties and he promptly gave up an R.B.I. single to Long. Wieters's sacrifice fly brought home an unearned run and, although Crancer dropped a base hit into right field, Long was unable to make it home from second because Plagman popped up to end the visitors' turn at bat with the Golden Tornado having taken a 3-2 lead.
The Red and Black set about answering the Georgia Tech salvo in the home half of the inning. Freeman led off with a single to center field, which was promising, but Peisel flied out, which was not. Wyatt hit into the fielder's choice that ended Freeman's time on the basepaths, but the Georgia center fielder atoned for that by swiping second base and taking third on a Beckham single. Unfortunately, Poythress left the tying run at third base when he went down swinging.
The sixth inning began with the home team holding a narrow advantage in hits (6-5) but the visitors holding a slim lead in runs (3-2). Luke Murton's leadoff walk ended McRee's evening after just five batters and Dean Weaver came on to induce groundouts from Brad Feltes and Haniger. After giving up a walk to Garofalo, Weaver struck out Payne to keep Georgia Tech from building on its lead.
That failure to seize the advantage proved costly to the visitors in the bottom of the stanza, which Olson began by punching a triple into left field. This brought Jared Hyatt to the mound and the Ramblin' Wreck reliever surrendered a game-tying single to Robbins. Lewis tacked on another base hit after Parrott struck out swinging, but a Freeman groundout and a Peisel strikeout left the Bulldog catcher stranded at second when his teammates were unable to turn the Red and Black's 9-5 edge in hits into anything better than a 3-3 deadlock in runs.
Naturally, no one expected the Yellow Jackets to go quietly in a rivalry game, so it came as no surprise when, after Long popped up to start the seventh stanza, Wieters homered to left field to reclaim the lead. Crancer's ensuing single brought Ryan Woolley in from the bullpen and the requisite outs were obtained in short order when the Golden Tornado right fielder was caught stealing and Plagman flied out to right field.
Following another Georgia Tech pitching change, Wyatt began the bottom of the frame with a double to right field and took third base on a wild pitch. After Beckham walked, Poythress tied the game anew on a sacrifice fly to center field. Although Olson went down swinging, Beckham took second on a wild pitch and Robbins walked, setting the stage for Parrott to plate the go-ahead run with a base hit to right field. Lewis struck out to put seven innings in the books with the home team holding the advantage in hits (11-7) and in runs (5-4).
Georgia Tech reliever Brad Ruton faced seven batters, allowed two earned runs on two hits, and threw two wild pitches, so, really, it was a choice between this picture or one of Nuke LaLoosh.
Adam McDaniel became the fifth Diamond Dog hurler of the night at the outset of the eighth frame and he retired the side on a leadoff flyout and consecutive strikeouts. A new inning meant a new pitcher for the Ramblin' Wreck, as well, and the latest man to take the mound for the visiting team began the bottom of the canto by plunking Freeman. Peisel sacrificed the runner over, but Wyatt followed that up with a strikeout.
Back-to-back bases on balls were drawn by Beckham and Poythress, only the former of which was deliberate. With the bases now loaded, Elliott Ogawa was tapped to be the fifth Georgia Tech pitcher of the outing and his brief time on the mound can only be characterized as spectacularly unsuccessful.
Ogawa faced three batters. Olson doubled to center field to score two runs. Robbins was walked intentionally. Parrott, mimicking Olson like the bird that bears his name, doubled to center field to score two runs. The pitching responsibilities devolved upon Andrew Robinson. Lewis popped up to end the inning with the Diamond Dogs up by a 9-4 margin.
Joshua Fields was called upon in the top of the ninth frame and he began by striking out Garofalo. After Payne padded his stats with a double to left field, Long struck out and Wieters ended the game with a groundout.
Joshua Fields faced four batters, allowed one hit, and recorded two strikeouts, so we feel about the Georgia closer about like we feel about his aunt, Sally . . . we like him! We really like him!
Any win over a ranked rival is a good win. The Classic City Canines got solid production at the plate from Matt Olson (2 for 5, 2 runs, 3 R.B.I.), Travis Parrott (3 for 5, 3 R.B.I.), and Jonathan Wyatt (2 for 5, 2 runs, 1 R.B.I.), while Trevor Holder limited the opposition to two earned runs in a little over four innings' worth of work as the starter.
Although committing a pair of errors, the Red and Black outhit the opposition by a 13-8 margin. Wally Crancer was the only Yellow Jacket to tally more than one hit and Matt Wieters was alone among Golden Tornado players in batting in more than one run. There was a great deal of fight in the Ramblin' Wreck, who played errorless baseball in the field and overcame a deficit to take the lead in the fifth frame before breaking a tie to retake the lead in the seventh stanza.
Despite facing a real fight from a dedicated foe, though, the Diamond Dogs persevered, outscoring their visiting rivals by a 7-1 margin in the final four innings to win the season series and claim the state championship in a season otherwise noticeably devoid of noteworthy achievements.