Georgia 6, Kennesaw State 2

The 5th-, 10th-, 16th-, or otherwise-ranked Diamond Dogs welcomed Kennesaw State to campus on Tuesday night to settle their season series. I won't keep you in suspense: Georgia won.

Will Harvil retired the side in sequence in the top of the first frame and Ryan Peisel led off the bottom of the canto with a base hit up the middle. Following a Matt Olson flyout, the Georgia third baseman stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball. Gordon Beckham was plunked and stole second upon getting aboard, after which a Rich Poythress groundout scored Peisel. Robbie O'Bryan then flied out to left field.

The Owls answered in the visitors' half of the second stanza, when, after the first two K.S.U. batters grounded out, Curtis Van Wyck sent the first pitch he saw into right center field for a double. Bucky Smith likewise swung at the first pitch thrown his way, also dropping a double into right center field. This not only brought the Kennesaw State shortstop home, but a Miles Starr error allowed Smith to come around and score, as well, giving the guests a 2-1 advantage after Josh Whitaker singled through the left side and was out at second when Tyler Stubblefield reached on a fielder's choice.

A Van Wyck fielding error enabled Lyle Allen to reach base at the outset of the home half of the frame and, although Joey Lewis drew a base on balls to put two men aboard, Starr's bunt attempt went horribly awry, resulting in a double play. Fortunately, a Michael Demperio single---see? Georgia can get production from the bottom of the order!---moved the Bulldog left fielder over to third. Peisel turned the first pitch thrown to him into a bunt single to score Allen, so the score was tied by the time Olson flied out to left field.

The two teams then settled into a long scoreless spell. The only baserunner produced by either team in the third inning was Ric Bishop, who drew a walk on a payoff pitch but was stranded at first base when Jay Morrow turned the very next pitch into a flyout. A first-pitch single up the middle by Jace Whitmer to lead off the top of the fourth frame was erased when Van Wyck hit into a double play in the ensuing at-bat, while the Red and Black went quietly in the home half of the canto on a lineout, a flyout, and a strikeout.

Kennesaw State shortstop Curtis Van Wyck went two for four on Tuesday, including a double, but that pales in comparison to his prior service as the first mayor of New York City following the consolidation of the five boroughs, in spite of the fact that his previous achievement evidently wasn't enough to cause a decent-sized picture of him to be made readily available on the internet.

Despite a Diamond Dog pitching switch to begin the inning, neither team put a player on the basepaths in the fifth stanza. Matters began to become more interesting in the sixth frame, which Martin Baker began by reaching first on a Peisel error and taking second on a wild pitch. Bishop subsequently singled to short, but a foulout and a pair of strikeouts in the next three at-bats prevented the Owl left fielder from scoring.

Likewise, in the home half of the canto, Bryce Massanari was hit by a pitch to put a man on first with two out and, although an Allen double sent the lead runner as far as third, the Red and Black designated hitter was thrown out at home. The deadlock continued through the top of the seventh stanza, in which Stubblefield collected a two-out single, stole second, took third on a base hit by Jacob Robbins, and was stranded when Baker grounded out to end the inning.

The home team at long last began to assert itself in the bottom of the frame. After Jake Crane was hit by a pitch, Matt Cerione put the first pitch he saw into play, sending it up the middle for a base hit. A wild pitch allowed the Georgia catcher to advance to third, but Crane was put out when Demperio hit into a fielder's choice. Peisel then singled through the left side to score Cerione and send Demperio as far as third.

Peisel proceeded to steal second and Demperio succeeded in scoring on a passed ball. Following an Olson walk, the Bulldog third baseman was caught stealing, but a Beckham double moved Olson over to third. Poythress then drew an intentional walk, setting the stage for Massanari to knock the double to right center field that plated a pair of runs. Allen then walked to load the bases for Crane, but the Red and Black catcher turned the first pitch thrown his way into a groundout to conclude a four-hit, four-run inning.

The top of the eighth canto passed uneventfully, as Steve Esmonde came on to pitch for Justin Earls and retired the Owls in succession, but the Classic City Canines resumed their onslaught in the bottom of the stanza, starting with Cerione's first-pitch single. While Demperio reached on the fielder's choice that ended Cerione's time on the basepaths, David Thoms dropped a single into the outfield to put runners at the corners.

Losing pitcher Bubba Blalock lasted a little over six innings yet fell to 0-2 on the year after throwing 92 pitches to 27 batters, plunking three, walking one, and conceding five hits and two earned runs. Honestly, there's no joke here; I just like taking note of the fact that the Owls' starting pitcher was named "Bubba."

Unfortunately, Olson's ensuing single produced an unassisted put-out of Thoms at second base but did not move Demperio nearer to home plate. Beckham drew the walk that loaded the bases, but Poythress struck out looking to strand all three baserunners. This proved inconsequential, however, as Dean Weaver took the mound in the top of the ninth frame, gave up a leadoff single to Van Wyck, and extracted outs from the remaining Owls he faced to close the books on a 6-2 Diamond Dog victory.

Will Harvil went four innings as the starter, facing 16 batters while striking out two, walking one, and giving up four hits and two earned runs. Justin Earls, who threw 52 pitches to Harvil's 53, got the win in relief and the bullpen delivered five scoreless innings in which three hurlers tallied six strikeouts but issued no walks.

Ryan Peisel went three for four from the leadoff spot, batting in a pair of runs and stealing a couple of bases to spark the Red and Black effort. Matt Cerione came on as a pinch hitter yet still collected two hits in a trio of at-bats. Despite committing more errors (2-1), the Classic City Canines out-hit the opposition (11-8) and limited the first four hitters in the Kennesaw State lineup to a two-for-fifteen, three-strikeout, one-walk, no-R.B.I. afternoon.

Obviously, it would have been preferable had the Diamond Dogs not left ten men on base, including seven in the last three stanzas, but the Red and Black got the win and will have an additional day to prepare for their showdown in Gainesville with the Gators, who prudently eschewed scheduling any midweek games between their series at Kentucky last weekend and their series hosting Georgia this weekend.

Florida's overall record of 25-15 gives the Orange and Blue the second-worst winning percentage in the S.E.C. East, while the Big Lizards' league ledger of 10-8 has them tied for fourth place in the division. The Saurians are 20-5 at home and the Gators have posted records of 2-4 against Eastern Division opposition, 5-7 against top 25 teams, and 5-10 since March 30 following a 20-5 start through March 29. Nevertheless, it is always tough to face a conference rival on the road and the Classic City Canines' upcoming matchup may offer a meaningful indication of how far this team can go.

Go 'Dawgs!

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