Lipscomb 10, Georgia 7

In the opening outing of the Athens Regional, the top-seeded Diamond Dogs fell to the fourth-seeded Lipscomb Bisons in a game one Dawg Sports commenter characterized as an embarrassment.

Stephen Dodson began the top of the first frame well enough, extracting a groundout from Jorge Gutierrez and a lineout from Allen Bolden, but he surrendered a solo shot to left center field to Caleb Joseph. Blake Bratcher thereafter grounded out to conclude the canto with the Bisons holding a 1-0 lead.

The Red and Black answered in the home half of the frame. Ryan Peisel led off with a base hit and, after Matt Olson lined out and Gordon Beckham struck out, the Georgia third baseman stole second. When Rich Poythress reached and took second on an error by Branden Cadavid, Peisel came around to score the game-tying unearned run.

A Bryce Massanari double plated Poythress and a Matt Cerione single brought the Bulldog designated hitter home, as well. A Joey Lewis double made it 4-1 before Lyle Allen drew a walk and Miles Starr was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Peisel then hit into the fielder’s choice that wrapped up a four-run, four-hit frame.

Lipscomb cut into the lead in the top of the second stanza. Shane Simpkins sent a one-out single up the middle and Cadavid followed that with a two-out base hit through the right side. Ben Williams doubled to left field to bring Simpkins home before Gutierrez flied out to end the Bisons’ turn at the plate.

The Diamond Dogs had only a pair of walks to show for the bottom of the canto, but the visitors went back on the offensive in the top of the third frame. Bolden drew a leadoff walk and, after Joseph flied out, Bratcher drove a home run to right field. The next two Bison batters struck out, but Lipscomb had tied the game with a one-hit, two-run inning. A leadoff single by Lewis in the bottom of the stanza was erased when Allen grounded into a double play.

Following a scoreless fourth frame, Bolden again drew a leadoff walk in the top of the fifth canto. Consecutive singles by Joseph and Bratcher scored the Lipscomb center fielder and a Justin Sanders groundout scored another run. After Simpkins struck out, Ryan Wilkins put a two-run shot out to left field.

This brought Alex McRee in from the bullpen and the Georgia reliever coaxed a groundout from Cadavid, but the Bisons had surged into the lead with a three-hit, four-run frame. The Red and Black had no answer in the home half of the inning, but Lipscomb continued the assault in the top of the sixth stanza, starting with a leadoff walk by Williams.

Gutierrez put down a sacrifice bunt but reached base safely due to an error by McRee, so Bolden tried a sacrifice bunt, too, and, although he was thrown out at first, he did advance both baserunners into scoring position. Joseph was walked intentionally to load the bases for Bratcher. Although the Lipscomb left fielder struck out, a wild pitch by McRee allowed Williams to score before a Sanders strikeout brought the proceedings to a close.

Down 9-4, the Classic City Canines began battling back in the bottom of the inning. Starr drew a one-out walk and Peisel tacked on two runs with a home run to right field. Olson’s ensuing single through the right side drove Rex Brothers from the mound, but Chris Burnett came on to retire Beckham and Poythress on a groundout and a flyout, respectively.

A leadoff double by Massanari produced the only baserunner for either team in the seventh stanza. The Bisons failed to collect a hit in the top of the eighth frame, but Georgia went back on the attack in the home half of the canto. David Thoms led off with a single. Peisel struck out, but Olson dropped a single into right field to advance Thoms and bring Kyle Tognazzini in from the bullpen.

A base hit by Beckham scored Thoms, but the budding rally was slain when Poythress grounded into a double play. McRee plunked Bratcher to start the ninth inning and Sanders put runners at the corners with a single to right field. After Sanders stole second and Simpkins struck out, Justin Grimm was brought in to close out the contest.

The Bulldog closer extracted flyouts from each of the batters he faced, but Wilkins’s long out to left field served as the sacrifice fly that brought Bratcher home to extend the Bisons’ lead to three runs. That advantage went unchallenged in the bottom of the frame, in which Massanari grounded out, Cerione grounded out, and Robbie O’Bryan flied out to close out the contest.

Jorge Gutierrez and Allen Bolden were held without a hit or an R.B.I. between them, but the heart of the Bison order produced for the visiting team: Caleb Joseph, Blake Bratcher, Justin Sanders, Shane Simpkins, and Ryan Wilkins together went seven for 22 and batted in eight runs. Such Diamond Dogs as Ryan Peisel (3 for 5, 2 R.B.I.), Matt Olson (2 for 5), Bryce Massanari (2 for 4, 1 R.B.I.), Matt Cerione (2 for 5, 1 R.B.I.), and Joey Lewis (2 for 4, 1 R.B.I.) were effective at the plate, but it was too little, too late for a home team that committed a pair of errors and, despite out-hitting the opposition (13-10), nevertheless managed to strand nine baserunners . . . again.

The Classic City Canines will face Louisville in an elimination game this afternoon.

Go ‘Dawgs!

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