In Friday night’s opening outing of a three-game weekend set between the Diamond Dogs and the Quinnipiac Bobcats, the two teams engaged in a pitcher’s duel. On Saturday, Georgia powered its way to an eleventh straight victory, winning 19-6 in a game that was never that close.
Justin Grimm, who got the start in place of the mononucleosis-afflicted Alex McRee, did not tantalize the fans with the prospect of a no-hitter, as he surrendered a leadoff double to Ben Farina in the top of the first frame. To that early discouraging sign were added a Mickey Amanti walk and a baserunner-advancing wild pitch following a Chris Migani strikeout. Fortunately, Mike Marmo grounded into the double play that kept anything from coming of the early hit.
It scarcely requires saying that Johnathan Taylor led off the home half of the inning by drawing a walk and stealing second base after Matt Cerione went down swinging. Once Colby May drew a base on balls, as well, Rich Poythress loaded the bases with a single to left field. A Bryce Massanari walk forced home a run and a Joey Lewis sacrifice fly brought in another. Chase Davidson’s ensuing double plated two more. Although Michael Demperio flied out to end the Bulldogs’ turn at bat, the two-hit, four-run canto had given the home team a 4-0 lead.
Neither team produced a baserunner in the second stanza and a one-out Jeff Carino single in the top of the third inning was nullified when Farina grounded into a double play. Poythress drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the canto and Massanari moved him into scoring position on a groundout. Lewis was plunked, Davidson doubled to bring home a run, and Demperio singled to bring home two more before David Thoms grounded out to wrap up a two-hit, three-run inning.
Quinnipiac shortstop Mickey Amanti was held without a hit on Saturday, but an abnormal growth of cells he had surgically removed from his body went on to become a professional football player. (Photograph from Reuters Pictures.)
While Migani grounded out to open the visitors’ half of the fourth frame, Amanti reached base on an error and took third on a wild pitch. This enabled Marmo to score a run with a groundout. A big inning for the Bobcats appeared to be brewing when Bryn Doyle singled and Bobak Emamian doubled, but a Tyler Turgeon groundout ended the threat and kept the score 7-1.
Taylor singled and stole second in the bottom of the canto, but his teammates recorded only outs. Joe Poletsky likewise led off the top of the fifth inning with a base hit to center field, but Carino sent a double-play ball to short and Farina grounded out to keep the score unchanged.
Massanari began the bottom of the frame with a double to center field. After Lewis popped up, Davidson followed with a single to the same spot in the outfield. Demperio reached on a fielder’s choice but batted in a run in the process, and, after Thoms went down swinging, the Georgia shortstop stole second base and Adam Fuller drew a walk to put three aboard for Lyle Allen, whose base hit to right field scored two. The resulting Quinnipiac pitching change yielded the May pop-up that concluded the canto after three hits and three runs to make it 10-1.
The Bobcats went three up and three down in the top of the sixth stanza but the Bulldogs tacked on two more with a two-out Lewis double followed by a Zach Cone home run. An error and a Thoms single generated another couple of baserunners, but Fuller’s subsequent pop-up kept them from coming home. Even so, Georgia now held a commanding 12-1 advantage.
Bobcat left fielder Bobak Emamian went one for four at Foley Field on Saturday, and, when asked afterwards whether he had a bad day at the plate, he replied, "I am whatever you say I am."
A leadoff walk by Doyle in the visitors’ half of the seventh inning was erased when Emamian grounded into a double play. After Miles Starr was hit by a pitch with one out away in the bottom of the stanza, Poythress singled to put two men on for Massanari. The Red and Black designated hitter struck out swinging, but Lewis took up the slack by doubling to right center field to notch another pair of runs. Cone added one more with a base hit before a Demperio strikeout concluded the canto.
Will Harvil retired the side in sequence in the top of the eighth inning yet the Classic City Canines kept up the pressure in the home half of the frame. Thoms began the Diamond Dogs’ turn at the plate with a walk and advanced on a wild pitch ere Fuller walked, as well. Allen was plunked to load the bases, and, after Starr popped up, Poythress sent a grand slam out to right center field to extend the Georgia lead to 19-1.
It hardly mattered that the next two Red and Black batters registered outs, or that the Bobcats at long last came to life in the top of the ninth inning. Migani led off the final canto with a double and, although the next two Quinnipiac batters struck out, a Gabe Guerino single scored the visiting second baseman. When Emamian reached on an error, Turgeon managed to plate another run with a base hit.
John Simone subsequently homered to drive in three more runs, so, by the time Carino struck out to bring to an end the Bobcats’ four-hit, five-run inning, the score had been made to look marginally more respectable at 19-6, but the end result was unchanged and the bottom of the ninth inning once again was unnecessary.
Quinnipiac right fielder John Simone notched a three-run home run in his only at-bat on Saturday, which must have made his partner, Andy Sipowicz, very proud.
The Diamond Dogs overcame their Friday evening power outage, notching 15 hits and scoring multiple runs in six of eight innings. Zach Cone (2 for 2), Chase Davidson (3 for 3), Michael Demperio (1 for 5), Joey Lewis (2 for 4), and Rich Poythress (3 for 5) all had at least three R.B.I. and Johnathan Taylor continued to put himself in position to help his team with a hit, a walk, and a pair of stolen bases.
While it would have been nice if the Classic City Canines had not conceded nine hits and six runs, only one of those runs was earned and the four pitchers Georgia utilized (Justin Grimm, Cecil Tanner, Will Harvil, and Steve Esmonde) combined for nine strikeouts and two walks. Grimm went six innings in the Saturday start.
Although the Bulldogs’ pair of errors did not aid their cause, the first three batters in the Bobcat lineup (Ben Farina, Chris Migani, and Mickey Amanti) together went two for ten with no R.B.I. and three strikeouts. Apart from one swing of the bat by John Simone, the visitors were held very well in check.
It is always tempting to make the perfect the enemy of the good, to think of how indomitable the Diamond Dogs would be if Friday’s pitching and Saturday’s hitting could be combined in a single game. The fact is, though, the Classic City Canines are finding ways to win games, pitching well even when giving up half a dozen runs and hitting well even when being held in the single digits in scoring. The best start in Georgia baseball history continues to be quite good enough.