The Diamond Dogs came into Wednesday afternoon's outing against Georgia State having attained meaningful milestones in their two previous games. Sunday's victory over Kentucky gave the Red and Black their twelfth conference win of the campaign and Tuesday's victory over East Tennessee State gave the Classic City Canines their 24th win overall, so Georgia already had exceeded the victory totals from last year's dismal season (23-33 overall and 11-19 in S.E.C. play) ere today's contest commenced.
The Panthers, who fancied the Bulldogs their "instate rival" (like they were Mercer or something!) and claimed a Colonial Athletic Association affiliation which suggested strongly that they were not yet ready for independence from the motherland, arrived at Foley Field mired in a four-game losing streak following a string of setbacks that included falling at Auburn. Georgia State came into Wednesday's game with an 18-15 overall ledger and the Red and Black handed the Panthers their 16th loss . . . but not without struggling with them as they had with the Buccaneers the day before.
The afternoon's designated Diamond Dog hurler was Justin Grimm, who coaxed groundouts from the first two G.S.U. batters in the visitors' half of the first inning before walking Chase Childers to produce the first baserunner of the game. Bradley Logan thereafter hit into the fielder's choice that cut down the Panther shortstop at second base to bring the Red and Black up to bat.
Georgia State infielder Bradley Logan went one for four on Wednesday, striking out twice and failing to collect an R.B.I., so I had absolutely no opportunity to make a tired joke about a '70s science fiction movie that half of my readers are too young even to really get. Thanks for nothing, Bradley.
A leadoff walk issued to Ryan Peisel in the home half of the frame was followed by a base hit from Matt Olson to advance the Georgia third baseman to second. Gordon Beckham then reached on the fielder's choice that saw Peisel put out at third and the next two Classic City Canines registered outs to conclude the canto.
Grimm retired the side in sequence in the top of the second stanza and a two-out single and stolen base by Matt Cerione went to waste in the bottom of the inning when Michael Demperio grounded out to strand the Bulldog center fielder. After Grimm issued a leadoff walk to Mike McCree in the visitors' half of the third canto, Jonathan Kolowich registered a base hit to move the Georgia State designated hitter over to second.
Nick Hogan's ensuing sacrifice advanced both baserunners, so, following a J.M. Rochon-Salvas strikeout, Childers put the single into left field that plated a pair of runs. Logan followed that up with a base hit and a stolen base, enabling Marc Mimeault to score two more Panthers with a base hit before Derek Simmons grounded out to end a four-hit, four-run frame.
After the Diamond Dogs went three up and three down in the home half of the stanza, Nick Montgomery was sent in to pitch the top of the fourth inning. The three batters he faced flied out, fouled out, and struck out in succession. Rich Poythress began the bottom of the canto with a single to center field and Bryce Massanari recorded a base hit of his own in the next at-bat.
The time to begin scoring has arrived.
Even though Lyle Allen grounded into a double play, Poythress was able to cross home plate, so the Red and Black had cut the visitors' lead to 4-1 by the time Joey Lewis grounded out to end the inning. In the top of the fifth canto, Rochon-Salvas was hit by a pitch with one out and the Panther second baseman stole a base with two outs, but his advancement to third on a Georgia error meant nothing when the third out was recorded with Rochon-Salvas standing 90 feet from home plate.
A Cerione single began the bottom of the frame and the Bulldog center fielder immediately proceeded to steal second base. A Demperio groundout moved him over to third and, after a Peisel walk, a sacrifice fly by Olson brought him home before Beckham grounded out to wrap up a second straight one-run inning for the Red and Black. The Panthers had only a two-out double by Dusty Bennett to show for the top of the sixth stanza.
Poythress led off the home half of the canto with a home run to center field before the next three Georgia batters recorded outs to carry the contest to the seventh frame with the visitors clinging to a one-run lead. Justin Earls took over on the mound to start the top of the inning and he immediately surrendered a single to Kolowich. However, Hogan struck out swinging and Rochon-Salvas grounded into a double play to strand the Georgia State right fielder.
Peisel put down a bunt single with two out in the bottom of the stanza and Olson moved him over to third with a double, but the tying run was left stranded when Beckham grounded out in the next at-bat. A leadoff single by Childers in the top of the eighth frame accomplished nothing when Logan struck out and Mimeault hit into a double play.
Bradley, you disappointed me once again.
A one-out single by Massanari in the home half of the inning was likewise negated when Allen reached on a fielder's choice, but a base hit by Jake Crane advanced the Bulldog left fielder to third. An Adam Fuller single scored Allen to tie the game before Demperio fouled out to send the contest to the final scheduled stanza.
It was looking pretty good for the home team, as the Diamond Dogs had worked their way back from a 4-0 deficit at the halfway point of the fourth frame, inching incrementally in the direction of extra innings, but the visitors had other ideas in the top of the ninth canto. Simmons reached on an error, Bennett reached on a fielder's choice, and another Red and Black error prevented either baserunner from recording an out.
Once McCree sacrificed them both over, Dean Weaver was sent to the mound and he gave up the sacrifice fly to Kolowich which plated the go-ahead run. Although Hogan watched a called third strike sail by, the home team's two-error inning had allowed the visitors to score an unearned run in a stanza in which the Panthers had no hits.
The home half of the ninth inning figured to be dramatic, but, in fact, it carried almost no tension whatever. Peisel led off with a base hit to center field and stole second. Olson drew a walk to put two men aboard for Beckham. The Georgia shortstop, who has more home runs this year than any other player in college baseball, sent one over the left field wall. Three runs scored and the Classic City Canines won, 7-5. It was as simple as that.
'Cause, you know, blowouts are boring. Unless they're against Auburn. I hate Auburn.
As had been the case in Tuesday afternoon's outing against East Tennessee State, the Diamond Dogs made it harder than it had to be, committing a trio of errors, stranding eight baserunners, and putting themselves in a position to have to battle back from a deficit even in a home game in which they out-hit the opposition by a 13-7 margin.
Ryan Peisel (2 for 3, 2 walks, 1 stolen base), Matt Olson (2 for 3, 1 R.B.I., 1 walk), Rich Poythress (2 for 4, 1 R.B.I.), Bryce Massanari (2 for 4), and Matt Cerione (2 for 3, 2 stolen bases) all had multi-hit days, whereas the Panthers' leadoff hitter (Nick Hogan), cleanup hitter (Bradley Logan), and designated hitter (Mike McCree) combined to go one for ten with no R.B.I. and one walk.
Although Georgia State gave Georgia no help---all seven of the Classic City Canines' runs were earned---the home team was able to rely on its bullpen again, as Nick Montgomery, Justin Earls, and Dean Weaver together pitched six innings in which they struck out seven, walked none, gave up three hits, and allowed no earned runs, paving the way for a 7-1 run in the final five and a half frames that proved, just as the previous day's game had, that the surge is working.