I have learned the hard way not to hope, at least where intercollegiate athletics are concerned. I have been known, on occasion, to adapt the Bene Gesserit litany against fear and recite it as the Georgia Bulldog litany against hope. Alas, after a close loss on Friday and a convincing win on Saturday, I allowed myself to hope. Naturally, I was rewarded with a loss on Sunday that conformed to my initial dour expectations.
The game began well enough for the visitors, with bases on balls being issued to Johnathan Taylor in the leadoff spot and to Zach Cone and Robert Shipman with two outs away, but Chase Davidson allowed a called third strike to sail by to strand three. This put the Tigers in a position to take the lead in the bottom of the first inning, which they did on Mikie Mahtook’s leadoff home run off of Michael Palazzone’s first pitch. Georgia produced a pair of two-out singles in the top of the second stanza, both of which were negated when Peter Verdin hit into a fielder’s choice.
A two-out single by Johnny Dishon and a two-run shot by Mahtook added to the LSU tally in the home half of the canto, but the Bulldogs’ only retort was to go three up and three down in their next turn at the plate. After a double-play grounder canceled out Micah Gibbs’s leadoff single in the bottom of the third inning, the Red and Black at last showed signs of life in the top of the fourth frame. Davidson led off with a double and Christian Glisson plated two with a home run to center field.
The Bayou Bengals responded with two outs away in the lower half of the canto. Mahtook walked, stole second, took third on a wild pitch, and came home on a Blake Dean double. Tyler Hanover also drew a base on balls, and two more runs scored on a balk and a base hit.
Verdin’s leadoff single went to waste in the top of the fifth inning, but the home team got the better of Alex McRee in the bottom of the frame. Two walks, a stolen base, and a pair of wild pitches scored a run, after which Davidson’s leadoff walk in the upper half of the sixth stanza was squandered. Louisiana State loaded the bases with two outs in the home half of the canto, allowing Austin Nola to plate three with a bases-clearing double.
Following a scoreless seventh inning, Cone sent a solo shot to left field at the outset of the eighth frame. The Tigers answered with an outburst in the bottom of the stanza. Chase Hawkins came in from the bullpen with the bases loaded and one out, and he proceeded to allow individual RBIs to each of the next five LSU batters on four singles and a fielder’s choice.
A one-out Brett DeLoach single, a two-out Beau Didier error, and a two-run Levi Hyams double affected the margin, but not the outcome, as Cone grounded out to conclude a game in which the Diamond Dogs did not outscore the Bayou Bengals in any of the first eight innings. Louisiana State out-hit Georgia by a margin better than two-to-one (17-8), and the Tigers outscored the Bulldogs by a margin of three-to-one (15-5). As was the case on Saturday, the score accurately reflected the contest that produced it.
The Classic City Canines’ leadoff hitter reached base in five out of nine frames, yet the Athenians were held scoreless in six stanzas. The Pelican State Panthers, on the other hand, scored ten of their fifteen runs with two outs against them. Georgia could neither bring its baserunners around to score nor secure the crucial third out to get out of jams.
Frankly, after the unmitigated disaster that was the Auburn series, I expected to see three games just like this one in Baton Rouge this weekend; the fact that we witnessed only one is a kind of success, and the fact that Georgia managed to avoid being swept is an achievement upon which the team can build. It ain’t much, but, in this sorry season, it’s something, and I’ll take it.