In the opening outing of Sunday afternoon’s twin bill, South Carolina hurler Sam Dyson went the full seven innings, carding a quintet of strikeouts and surrendering a trio of hits while conceding neither a walk nor a run in a shutout victory over the Diamond Dogs.
After the two teams traded two-out singles in the first frame, Adrian Morales drove a solo home run to left field in the top of the second stanza. The hit that made the score 1-0 was the only hit by either team that canto. Each club registered a lone single in the third inning.
In the top of the fourth frame, the Gamecocks generated another run on a leadoff walk, a stolen base, a Georgia error, and an RBI single off the bat of Morales. After the Red and Black recorded a two-out single in the home half of the stanza, Bobby Haney doubled to produce the only baserunner for either contestant in the fifth canto.
The Palmetto State Poultry distanced themselves from their hosts with two outs away in the top of the sixth inning. Nick Ebert drove Justin Earls from the mound with a solo home run, and Cooper Moseley proceeded to plunk Morales and walk the next two batters to load the bases for Haney. The South Carolina shortstop sent a single to left field to plate two more runs.
All the Classic City Canines had to show for the bottom of the frame were three groundouts, and Jackie Bradley, Jr.’s leadoff single in the top of the seventh stanza was erased by a double-play groundout. The Diamond Dogs went three up and three down in the home half of the canto.
Jeff Walters took the loss to fall to 1-4 for the season. The Georgia starter faced seventeen batters, striking out two and walking one in the course of conceding five hits and one earned run in a little over four innings. The Athenians’ leadoff hitter (Johnathan Taylor), cleanup hitter (Zach Cone), and designated hitter (Zach Taylor) together went one for eight in the season’s first shutout for the Red and Black.
The Palmetto State Poultry picked up where they left off in the afternoon’s second showdown, starting the top of the first frame with three straight singles to score one run. A sacrifice fly plated another, then a Morales home run brought home two more. Peter Verdin made it as far as second base in the home half of the canto, but no farther.
The Gamecocks padded their lead in the visitors’ half of the second stanza, when a pair of singles, a hit batsman, and a sacrifice fly made it 5-0 once more and ended Michael Palazzone’s afternoon on the hill. Earls persuaded the next two South Carolinians to chase strike three.
The Diamond Dogs finally showed some signs of life in the bottom of the inning, as a Robert Shipman walk and consecutive doubles to center field by Brett DeLoach and Chase Davidson notched a couple of runs. After Malcolm Clapsaddle retired the side in sequence in the top of the third canto, Georgia went back to work in the home half of the frame. The Classic City Canines began their turn at the plate with three straight singles followed by a double, scoring a pair of runs in the process. Suddenly, it was 5-4.
It did not stay that way for long. Bradley led off the upper half of the fourth stanza with a solo shot to center field. Christian Walker notched a double in the next at-bat and advanced to third on a groundout before coming home on a two-out single. While neither team registered a hit in the bottom of the fourth inning or the top of the fifth, the Classic City Canines tied the contest in the home half of the latter canto.
Levi Hyams led off with a walk, Kyle Farmer was hit by a pitch with one out away, and DeLoach belted a three-run shot to center field with two outs away to even the runs at seven per side. The sixth stanza, though scoreless, was not uneventful, as Cecil Tanner walked two batters and plunked a third to load the bases in the top of the inning before the Red and Black worked their way out of the jam.
Whit Merrifield drew a leadoff walk in the upper half of the seventh canto, swiped second, and came home on a Bradley single to break the deadlock, but the Bulldogs kept the damage from being any worse, so the home team had a chance at dodging the sweep in the bottom of the frame. Hyams and Cone opened the inning with back-to-back singles before Farmer sacrificed them over into scoring position.
After Shipman drew an intentional walk, the Diamond Dogs were down by one at home with three on and one out, but DeLoach went down swinging and Zach Taylor flied out to complete a second straight three-loss weekend in SEC play and put into the books Georgia’s ninth one-run setback of the season.
The last two years in Bulldog Nation have been dismal, and this baseball season may be the low point of a long downcycle. It disappoints me, but should not surprise me, that opposing fans of every stripe have taken the opportunity these last couple of years to take their cheap shots and kick us while we’re down. Although I try to revel in victory rather than taunt the other fellow in defeat, I suppose this is the unfortunate nature of rivalry in the 21st century.
I don’t care where your loyalty lies and how much you hate me and my kind, though. Down by one run at home in the bottom of the last inning with one out away and the bases loaded with the series already lost, and you can’t even pull out one lousy stinking meaningless win to keep from being swept? No one deserves that.