David Perno’s Georgia baseball team arrived at Polk-Dement Stadium on Saturday afternoon without a win in SEC play and mired in a losing streak of the sort that inspires Southern literature. Despite a harrowing final inning in which yet another one-run loss appeared not only likely but foreordained, the Red and Black managed to escape with a 7-4 triumph over Mississippi State.
The Diamond Dogs were retired in order in the top of the first frame, enabling the home team to record the contest’s first hit and first run in the bottom of the canto. Nick Vickerson led off with a base hit, was sacrificed over to second, and stole third, so Russ Sneed scored him with a single.
Each squad collected one hit in the second stanza, with Colby May sending a two-out single into center field for Georgia and Jaron Shepherd getting down a bunt for Mississippi State. Following a third inning in which the only hit was a leadoff single by Kyle Farmer to start the upper half of the canto, the visiting Bulldogs’ bats at last came to life in the top of the fourth frame.
Zach Cone started the proceedings with a base hit. Robert Shipman was hit by a pitch and May walked to load the bases for Chase Davidson, who went down swinging. Farmer drew a base on balls to force home one run and Christian Glisson sent a sacrifice fly into left field to bring home another. Johnathan Taylor loaded the bases anew with a single, allowing Peter Verdin to earn an RBI on a walk, and Levi Hyams plated two more with a base hit to right field.
Each team had one hit to show for the next inning and a half before the Red and Black built on their lead in the top of the sixth stanza. A Glisson leadoff double, a Taylor sacrifice, and a Verdin single added a run to the Georgia tally, but the home team offered a rejoinder in the bottom of the frame.
A Vickerson double, a Luke Adkins walk, and a Sneed plunking loaded the bases with one out, whereupon Ryan Collins flied out to left field to score a run. An error by Farmer allowed an unearned run to score and a wild pitch permitted one more to score.
The 6-4 score held up throughout the seventh inning, in which a bunt single by Sam Frost was the only hit registered by either squad. A Verdin walk, a Hyams double, and a Cone sacrifice fly combined to generate another Athenian run in the top of the eighth frame and two hitless half-innings brought the hometown Bulldogs back to the plate in the bottom of the ninth canto trailing by three runs.
Cooper Moseley began by plunking Cody Freeman, conceding a double to Jet Butler, and walking Jonathan Ogden to load the bases with no one out and bring the potential winning run to the plate. At that point, it was my expectation that this postgame wrapup would consist strictly of a string of curse words, but Moseley came through, extracting a pop-up from Frost and sneaking called third strikes by Vickerson and Adkins.
Of the nine batters in the Classic City Canines’ starting lineup, eight carded at least one hit and five batted in at least one run. The Georgians drew nine walks, but they struck out a combined thirteen times and did not hit a home run. Nevertheless, even though Levi Hyams had the Diamond Dogs’ only multi-hit game, the Red and Black turned nine hits into seven runs and scored in three of the last six stanzas.
The Georgia bullpen delivered three innings of scoreless relief after Justin Grimm held the home team to five hits, two walks, and two earned runs in six frames. Ryan Collins and Russ Sneed were the only Mississippi State hitters to bat in runs on the afternoon. It was far from a perfect outing, but the pitching staff performed well, and there are worse places than the mound from which to begin rebuilding a baseball team that still will not make it to Hoover but need not resign itself to embarrassment in every outing.