The Stetson Hatters came calling at Foley Field on Friday afternoon to kick off the Diamond Dogs’ first weekend series of the year in Athens. The Red and Black made short work of their guests in the opening outing of the three-game set, generating a dozen runs on fifteen hits in a laugher.
After the Hatters were set down in sequence in the top of the first inning, Johnathan Taylor led off the bottom of the frame with a single but saw it squandered when Chase Davidson grounded into a double play. The only Stetson baserunner in the upper half of the second stanza reached on an error and the Classic City Canines got down to business in the home half of the canto.
Colby May, Zach Cone, Christian Glisson, and Kyle Farmer got the proceedings underway with four straight singles, scoring a pair of runs in the process. A double-play ball off the bat of Robert Shipman left a runner on third, who scored on a wild pitch. By the time Todd Hankins swung at strike three, Georgia had taken a 3-0 lead in a four-hit inning.
Two harmless walks were issued in the top of the third stanza before the Bulldogs extended their lead in the bottom of the canto. Taylor drew a base on balls, stole second, took third on a Davidson groundout, and came home on a Peter Verdin double.
The Hatters had only a two-out single to show for their efforts in the visitor’s half of the fourth frame, but the Red and Black continued to plug away in their turn at bat. An error allowed Glisson to reach base and consecutive singles allowed him to score an unearned run. A Taylor triple made it a three-hit, three-run inning for the Athenians.
Stetson again had two walks go for naught in the top of the fifth canto and Georgia again put runs on the board in the bottom of the frame, thanks to a solo shot from Verdin, a Glisson walk that turned into a run when the next two Bulldog batters singled, and a two-RBI single by Hankins following the passed ball that put a pair of runners in scoring position. All told, the Diamond Dogs tallied four runs on four hits.
A Stetson single in the top of the sixth stanza was erased when the next Hatter batter hit into a double play, while the Red and Black continued their onslaught in the home half of the frame when Davidson led off with a home run. The visitors were held hitless and the hosts were held scoreless in an uneventful seventh inning.
The first two hitters faced by Steve Esmonde in the upper half of the eighth frame provided Stetson’s only fireworks, as Mark Jones dropped a leadoff single into center field and Aaron Crittenden belted a two-run shot to prevent the shutout. Neither squad carded a hit in the remainder of the eighth inning or in the ninth canto, the latter of which ended with the Bulldogs turning a double play.
Justin Grimm lasted almost six full frames, striking out seven of the 24 batters he faced while issuing four walks, conceding two hits, and permitting no runs, earned or otherwise. Johnathan Taylor was effective in the leadoff spot, going two for three and drawing a walk while batting in a pair of runs. The Diamond Dogs also got quality production at the plate from Kyle Farmer (3 for 4, 1 RBI), Robert Shipman (2 for 4, 2 RBI), and Peter Verdin (2 for 3, 2 RIWWB). It was just Stetson, but it was a win, and it wasn’t close, and that was all it needed to be.