Friday night was a busy evening in Bulldog Nation, as the baseball team was in action in Athens, the gymnastics team was in action in Ann Arbor, and the men’s basketball team was in action in Nashville in the SEC tournament quarterfinals. As was the case last Saturday, this busy schedule proved too much for a lone blogger to cover and too much for two-thirds of the Georgia athletics squads to handle.
Men’s Basketball - Vanderbilt Commodores 78, Georgia Bulldogs 66: In the tradition of my usual instantaneous ill-informed roundball wrapups, I’m going to give pretty short shrift to tonight’s basketball game, since brevity sometimes gets rave reviews. The Fox Hounds kept this one close for a while with a strong second-half run, but, at the end of the evening, this game was a microcosm of the Hoop Dogs’ whole season. Heart, grit, more fundamentally sound play, and the ability to hang tough with anyone on any given night ultimately could not overcome poor rebounding, streaky play, and lack of depth.
The comment thread (to which I was late to arrive) said it better than I could, but, if we had to sum up this season succinctly, we would have to characterize this not as a season that brought success but as the season that turned our hope into faith. This is not a good basketball team right now . . . but it will be. What was a question of "if" has become a matter of "when." It ain’t much, but it is something, which is better than nothing, and, in the due course of time, it may turn out to be everything.
Gymnastics - Michigan Wolverines 196.375, Georgia Bulldogs 195.8: The fifth-ranked Gym Dogs visited Crisler Arena to face No. 12 Michigan and came up short in the non-conference clash. The Maize and Blue carded back-to-back 49.15s in the first two rotations, during which the Red and Black posted a 49.025 in the vault after Kat Ding earned a 9.9 and notched a 49 on the bars, led by Marcia Newby’s 9.85.
The Gym Dogs edged the hometown Wolverines by a 48.925-48.775 margin in the third rotation, in which Michigan was on the beam and Georgia took part in a floor exercise that featured Courtney McCool’s 9.875, but that was not enough to overcome what occurred when the teams switched events.
In the final rotation, the Red and Black posted their lowest score of the meet (48.85) on the beam and the Maize and Blue put up their highest tally of the contest (49.3) on the floor. The meet was marred by diminishing returns for the visitors, as the Gym Dogs earned a lower team score in each rotation than they had in the one before.
Baseball - Georgia Bulldogs 9, Siena Saints 3: On a weekend during which petty Big 12 criticisms of SEC baseball had to be answered repeatedly (again), the Diamond Dogs got their three-game set with Siena off to a good start by snapping a five-game skid with a 9-3 home win.
The Classic City Canines leapt out to an early advantage when Peter Verdin sent a solo shot to left field in the home half of the first frame. The Saints tied it up in the top of the third canto when the visiting third baseman led off with a base hit and came home on a sacrifice groundout and an RBI single , but Georgia answered in the bottom of the inning on another Verdin home run to left.
A four-hit, four-run fourth frame got underway for the Diamond Dogs when Levi Hyams was plunked with two outs away and the next four Georgia batters registered a trio of singles and a double. Aided by a Bulldog error, Siena responded with a pair of runs in the visitors’ half of the fifth stanza, only to see the Red and Black get one run back in the bottom of the inning when Christian Glisson dropped a base hit into center field, stole second, and came home on a Zach Taylor single.
The Classic City Canines built on their lead in the sixth canto, beginning with a leadoff double by Verdin. A Zach Cone single brought him the rest of the way around, and, after the Georgia center fielder swiped second, Colby May sent an RBI base hit into center field. The remainder of the game was scoreless, though not uneventful, as the Saints loaded the bases with no one out in the top of the ninth frame before Cecil Tanner retired the next three Siena batters.
There’s only so much you can read into a home win over a non-conference opponent you can’t locate on a map, but, at this point (both in the season and in the evening), a win is a win. The Diamond Dogs surrendered only two earned runs, the bullpen pitched four scoreless innings, and the Red and Black hurlers did not issue a walk in the first eight frames. While the star of the show, obviously, was Peter Verdin (4 for 5, 3 RBI, 2 HR), the Georgia right fielder was one of five Bulldogs to register multiple hits and Zach Cone also drove in three runs. Yeah, it was just Siena, but the Classic City Canines needed to have a good night, and, to their credit, they did.