Georgia Diamond Dogs 12, Arizona Wildcats 5

After opening their first road series with a victory over Arizona on Friday night, the Diamond Dogs took the field a second time in Tucson hoping to remain undefeated and claim their third consecutive series victory of the young season. Georgia continued to impress as the Red and Black rolled to a 12-5 win in which they never trailed.

Johnathan Taylor continued to demonstrate his keen understanding of the purpose of a leadoff man in the top of the first inning when he smacked a single into left field to put a man on base for the ensuing batters. After Matt Cerione flied out, Taylor stole second base. Colby May’s subsequent groundout allowed the baserunner to advance to third and made it possible for Rich Poythress to plate a run with a base hit. Even though the Georgia first baseman was thrown out trying to take second, the visitors were up 1-0 three outs into the contest.

Alex McRee therefore took the mound with a lead to protect in the bottom of the canto and he did his job, eliciting a pair of flyouts and a strikeout from the three batters he faced. Joey Lewis dropped a one-out double into left field in the Bulldogs’ half of the second stanza before a Chase Davidson groundout and a Michael Demperio single brought the Georgia catcher around to score.

Levi Hyams notched a single of his own and, when Taylor was hit by a pitch, the bases were loaded for Cerione, whose base hit to center field plated another pair of Red and Black runs. Although the next two Bulldog batters carded outs, the four-hit, three-run frame had given the Athenians a 4-0 advantage. A two-out double by Steve Selsky in the bottom of the inning came to nothing when Jett Bandy grounded out in the next at-bat.

Between innings, Jett reportedly struck oil on Little Reata.

Bryce Massanari opened the proceedings in the top of the third canto with a base hit to left field. Lewis’s ensuing double advanced the Georgia designated hitter to third, but, after Davidson went down swinging, Massanari was cut down at home when Demperio reached on a fielder’s choice. Hyams popped up to conclude a scoreless stanza for the Classic City Canines.

Matt Presley opened the home half of the third inning by striking out, but Daniel Butler thereafter walked and moved into scoring position on a Rafael Valenzuela single. McRee proceeded to persuade Bryce Ortega and Bobby Coyle to strike out swinging to squelch the threat. The Diamond Dogs then made the most of their turn at the plate at the outset of the fourth frame.

Taylor drew a leadoff walk and came the rest of the way around when Cerione doubled to center field. A base hit by May brought the Georgia center fielder home and forced an Arizona pitching switch. Kyle Simon came on in relief of Matt Veltmann and promptly walked Poythress. After Massanari hit into the double play that left May as the last man standing at third, Lewis singled to score the Bulldog third baseman and Davidson doubled to plate the Red and Black catcher.

Following a base hit by Demperio, Hyams grounded out to wrap up a five-hit, four-run inning in which the visiting Athenians had claimed an 8-0 edge. Although Selsky drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the canto and took second base on a balk, Bandy flied out to keep the Wildcats scoreless.

Between innings, Bandy reportedly recorded "Just Good Ol’ Boys" with Joe Stampley.

Cerione sent a one-out triple into left center field in the top of the fifth frame, but back-to-back groundouts from May and Poythress stranded him 90 feet from home plate. This opened the door a crack for Arizona and the Wildcats did their best to stampede right through it, beginning with a leadoff double by Presley and a base on balls drawn by Butler to start the home half of the canto.

Although McRee elicited a strikeout from Mike Weldon, he walked Ortega to load the bases for Coyle. The Arizona center fielder hit into the double play that preserved the Classic City Canines’ eight-run advantage. Massanari’s opening groundout in the top of the sixth stanza was followed by three straight singles from Lewis, Davidson, and Demperio to load the bases for Hyams, who brought a run home while being thrown out at first base.

Taylor grounded out in the ensuing at-bat to conclude the second straight inning in which the Diamond Dogs failed to bring home all the runs they rightfully ought to have, yet still the Red and Black held commanding advantages in hits (17-3) and runs (9-0). Jeff Walters was sent to the hill in the bottom of the frame to protect that lead and he struck out Brad Glenn before plunking Dillon Baird. The Georgia reliever thereafter coaxed a lineout from Selsky and extracted a strikeout from Bandy.

Between Cerione and Poythress flyouts, May drove a home run to left center field in the top of the seventh stanza to make it 10-0. Peter Verdin flied out to bring the Wildcats back up to bat in the bottom of the inning, in which Presley’s leadoff walk was nullified when Butler hit into a double play. Weldon subsequently grounded out to conclude the canto.

Ah, come on; you knew I wasn’t going to make it all the way through a baseball game featuring a player named Presley without going there . . .

Lewis led off the top of the eighth frame with a solo shot to left field. Lyle Allen doubled and took third on a balk before Demperio and David Thoms registered outs. After Zach Cone walked and took second base on a wild pitch, a Cerione single plated the Georgia right fielder. It was only after the conclusion of the Diamond Dogs’ three-hit, two-run turn at bat that the home team came alive in the bottom of the canto.

Coyle parked a one-out double in left center field and Glenn drew a base on balls to force Walters from the game. Chase Hawkins took over as the Bulldog hurler and proceeded to give up a run-scoring base hit to Baird, a baserunner-advancing groundout to Selsky, and a bases-clearing two-R.B.I. single to Bandy. Presley hit into the fielder’s choice that ended the inning, but the Wildcats had scored three runs on four hits to cut the deficit to 12-3.

The Red and Black went three up and three down in the top of the ninth frame and Arizona continued to battle back in the bottom of the canto. Butler and Weldon drew back-to-back walks, Shaun Cooper flied out to advance the Wildcat catcher, and the hometown second baseman stole the base to which he was most accustomed. Although Coyle popped up, a balk scored one run and a single by Glenn plated another before Codi Harshman flied out to wrap up another Georgia victory.

Despite the Pac-10 squad’s late surge---Georgia led 10-0 after seven but was outscored 5-2 in the last two stanzas---the Red and Black out-hit the home team by a 21-8 margin, played errorless baseball, and got five scoreless innings out of starter Alex McRee. Matt Cerione’s return to the lineup proved beneficial to Georgia, as the Bulldog center fielder went four for six with a double, a triple, and a quartet of R.I.W.W.B. (Sorry; ending sentences with a preposition is sort of a pet peeve of mine.)

The bottom line is that the Diamond Dogs are pitching well, are hitting well, remain undefeated, and will go for their third straight series sweep on Sunday afternoon. All is well in Bulldog Nation.

Go ‘Dawgs!

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