The Diamond Dogs took care of business on Friday night before hosting Stetson for the second outing of a three-game set on Saturday afternoon. In a back-and-forth contest full of hits, home runs, and errors, Georgia emerged victorious in a one-run decision.
Jeff Walters did not get off to a good start on the mound in the visitors’ half of the initial inning. Spencer Theisen led off with a single and took second on a wild pitch. Robert Crews followed that up with a home run to left field. Three batters later, Sean Emory tacked on a base hit to add insult to injury, and, by the time the Hatter baserunner was nabbed trying to steal, Stetson already had matched its run total from the previous evening.
The Red and Black halved the deficit in the bottom of the frame on a one-out single by Colby May, a two-out walk by Chase Davidson, and a run-scoring base hit by Zach Cone to make it a 2-1 ballgame. The side was retired in sequence in the top of the second stanza and the Diamond Dogs had only a leadoff walk to show for their turn at bat in the bottom of the canto.
With two outs away in the upper half of the third inning, Crews again put one in the cheap seats and Aaron Crittenden made it to first base on a Todd Hankins error. After Nick Rickles grounded out to bring the Bulldogs back up to bat, Georgia finally awakened from its slumber.
Peter Verdin belted a one-out double into left field and advanced another 90 feet on a balk. A two-out Cone triple plated Verdin, a Christian Glisson single scored Cone, and a Brett DeLoach home run brought home two more. Two Stetson singles amounted to nothing in the top of the fourth frame and the Bulldogs squandered a one-out single in the bottom of the canto.
Another odd-numbered inning saw another Stetson score when Crews sent a single to left field with one out away in the top of the fifth frame. Crittenden’s ensuing single sent the lead baserunner to third and a two-out single by Emory scored Crews to cut the Georgia lead to 5-4.
The Classic City Canines extended their advantage anew in the home half of the canto when a one-out Glisson walk was followed by the two-out Kevin Ruiz home run that made it 7-4. The Hatters answered with a one-out Kurt Schluter double followed by a run-scoring Jeff Simpson single in the visitors’ half of the sixth stanza. Blake Dieterich and Cooper Moseley managed to get out of the inning without further damage being done. The Red and Black went three up and three down in the lower half of the frame.
The home team let the lead get away from them in the top of the seventh canto. The first two outs were recorded before a walk, a single, a stolen base, and a passed ball brought one run home. Once a base hit brought the tying run across home plate, a balk signaled the end of the afternoon for Moseley, who was succeeded on the hill by Cecil Tanner. The new Georgia hurler surrendered a base on balls before finally securing the last out.
The first two Bulldog batters in the home half of the inning struck out looking, but Glisson singled, DeLoach reached on a wild pitch, and Robert Shipman walked to load the bases for Hankins, who flied out to strand three and preserve the deadlock. The tie was broken with one swing of the bat in the top of the eighth inning when Crews once again went yard, giving the Hatters an 8-7 advantage and causing me to ask, "Why are we still pitching to this guy?" with a fervor unheard in such circumstances since Steve Detwiler was at the plate in the College World Series.
After the next three Stetson batters notched a trio of outs, the contest proceeded to the bottom of the frame and the Diamond Dogs made up the deficit. May drew a one-out walk and Verdin brought him home with a double. Davidson drew a free pass to first base and everyone was safe when Cone hit into a fielder’s choice, thanks to the error that allowed the unearned go-ahead run to cross the plate.
Glisson was hit by a pitch but the next two Bulldog batters recorded outs to bring Alex McRee to the mound to close out the contest. The Georgia closer struck out all three of the batters he faced to clinch the victory for the home team.
In a weird outing, Johnathan Taylor went without a hit or a walk, Chase Davidson also was held hitless while fanning twice, and Zach Cone had as many strikeouts as hits. Christian Glisson (2 for 3, 1 RBI), Colby May (2 for 4), and Kevin Ruiz (2 for 3, 2 RBI) came through for the Diamond Dogs, though, to make up for David Perno’s baffling decision to continue pitching to Robert Crews when the Hatter second baseman was busy going four for five with four RBI and three home runs. For crying out loud, Stetson pitched around our designated hitter, who didn’t have a hit all afternoon!
It was a strange game hallmarked by errors, both tactical and practical, and the Classic City Canines probably didn’t deserve to escape with the victory, but they got it and I’ll take it. The Red and Black will go for the series sweep on Sunday.