On the same weekend that Georgia captured the school’s fifth equestrian national championship and 28th SEC men’s golf championship, the Diamond Dogs concluded their three-game series with Arkansas by being swept in Fayetteville. Sunday’s 13-5 result gave Georgia its twelfth conference loss and the Hogs their twelfth league win.
D.J. Baxendale retired the side in sequence in the visitors’ half of the first frame, but Michael Palazzone gave up a first-pitch single to Bo Bigham, a first-pitch single to Zack Cox, and a sacrifice fly to Andy Wilkins in the bottom of the canto to stake the Razorbacks to a 1-0 lead.
The Red and Black responded in the second stanza. Zach Cone drew a leadoff walk, advanced to third on a Robert Shipman single, and came home on the Zach Taylor sacrifice fly that tied the game. Arkansas reclaimed the lead in the home half of the inning, when Travis Sample and Tim Carver drew back-to-back bases on balls. A James McCann single scored one before Carver stole home. A Collin Kuhn single moved the hometown catcher over to third, and a Bigham groundout scored the Hogs’ third run of the frame. McCann, Kuhn, and Bigham all put the ball in play on 0-2 pitches.
Levi Hyams answered with a first-pitch single in the upper half of the third canto, after which Cone dropped a two-out double into left field to even the hits at four apiece and cut the Diamond Dogs’ deficit to 4-2. The Razorbacks went three up and three down in the bottom of the stanza.
Taylor was plunked at the start of the fourth inning, and he stole second base, but the next three Athenians carded a strikeout, a flyout, and a groundout to strand the Georgia left fielder at third. Sample led off the home team’s turn at the plate with a single. A Carver double put two Razorbacks in scoring position and signaled the end of the line for Palazzone.
Alex McRee extracted a fly ball from McCann. The ball was caught by Cone for one out and the Georgia center fielder cut down Sample at home with his throw to home plate. Matters then proceeded to unravel for the Red and Black, as McRee walked Kuhn on four straight pitches and threw the wild pitch that scored Carver. Bigham was hit by a pitch, and a Christian Glisson error on a double steal allowed Kuhn to score an unearned run. After Cox walked and swiped second, Wilkins obligingly grounded out to get the fifth frame underway.
T.J. Forrest took over for Baxendale just in time to surrender a leadoff home run to Peter Verdin in the top of the inning. The next three Diamond Dogs registered outs. Arkansas got it back in the home half of the canto, and then some, when Brett Eibner led off by drawing a walk on a payoff pitch and Monk Kreder smacked a two-run shot to left field. A single, an error, and a plunking with one out away loaded the bases for Bigham.
A walk forced home an unearned run. Cox hit into the fielder’s choice that saw McCann thrown out at home. A base hit off the bat of Wilkins pushed two more runs across the plate, and, when Eibner walked, Cox scored on a wild pitch. Cooper Moseley came in from the bullpen and secured the final out without permitting the Hogs to plate another run.
No Athenian reached base in the top of the sixth stanza. The Hogs recorded two outs to start the home half of the frame before Kuhn was hit by a pitch, Bigham notched a base hit, and Cox sent the first pitch he saw into right field to drive in another run. Johnathan Taylor recorded the only hit for either team in the seventh inning, and the Red and Black had only a trio of groundouts to show for the upper half of the eighth canto.
A hit batsman and a base hit with two outs away in the home half of the frame brought Justin Earls to the mound, and the Georgia reliever coaxed a flyout from Cox. Brett DeLoach led off the top of the ninth stanza with a single and advanced to second when Todd Hankins was thrown out at first base. A first-pitch double by Carson Schilling scored DeLoach. A subsequent single scored Schilling, but Hyams went down swinging to complete the sweep.
The sad fact is that Georgia’s nine hits and five runs made Sunday’s game arguably the least embarrassing of the Diamond Dogs’ outings in the Natural State. Unfortunately, Johnathan Taylor (2 for 2, 1 RBI) was the only Athenian to notch more than one hit, while the Razorbacks posted good days at the plate by Bo Bigham (3 for 4, 2 RBI), Tim Carver (2 for 4), Zack Cox (2 for 5, 1 RBI), and Andy Wilkins (1 for 4, 3 RIWWB). The Bulldog bullpen worked five frames and conceded just three earned runs, but the damage was done in the first three stanzas. D.J. Baxendale held the visitors to four hits, one walk, and two earned runs in four innings.
The Diamond Dogs have been outscored 58-15 in their last four games.