Tuesday evening marked the last night of the 2010 season on which a midweek game would be played by the Diamond Dogs, who are the only team to have been mathematically eliminated from an invitation to Hoover and whose pitching coach has come under fire as his staff has compiled the worst ERA in school history by two runs. Fortunately, the Classic City Canines’ bats came to life as Georgia prevailed in a game that featured 22 runs, 35 hits, and eleven pitchers.
Georgia starter Blake Dieterich surrendered a leadoff single to Mark Micowski in the top of the first frame, then Jonathan Kolowich followed that up with a base hit of his own. Joey Wood reached on the fielder’s choice that saw the Panther right fielder thrown out at second but brought the GSU center fielder home. After Bradley Logan went down swinging, the Georgia State designated hitter was caught stealing for the season’s first successful pickoff by a Georgia hurler.
The Red and Black responded in the bottom of the inning. Peter Verdin led off with a single, Johnathan Taylor carded a base hit of his own in the next at-bat, and Levi Hyams drove in three with a home run to right field. Zach Cone’s ensuing single and subsequent stolen base allowed Kevin Ruiz to score him with a two-out single to center field.
The Panthers loaded the bases with a base hit and a pair of walks in the upper half of the second stanza. Shane Hammond drew the base on balls that forced home a run and brought in Steve Esmonde from the bullpen. Justin Malone’s sacrifice fly plated another run before Micowski flied into a double play.
The Diamond Dogs produced a pair of baserunners in the bottom of the canto but could not bring either of them home, while each team generated one run in the third inning. Singles by Kolowich, Wood, and Brandon Williams combined for a Georgia State score in the top of the stanza, while the home half of the canto saw a Zach Taylor leadoff double turned into a run by a Ruiz single and a Carson Schilling grounder.
Chase Hawkins was sent to the mound to start the fourth frame, and he retired the side in sequence. The Classic City Canines responded in kind, going three up and three down in the bottom of the inning. GSU carded a couple of hits in the top of the fifth canto but proved unable to score, leaving the door open for the Diamond Dogs to have a big inning in the home half of the stanza.
Brett DeLoach led off with a triple and came home on a Ruiz single. A passed ball permitted the Georgia first baseman to take second base, then, after Verdin was hit by a pitch, the Red and Black center fielder plated a run with a base hit. Hyams walked to load the bases and Cone brought all three of his teammates the rest of the way around with a triple before a flyout ended the four-hit, five-run frame.
Hawkins was relieved by Justin Earls, who promptly loaded the bases on a pair of singles and a walk. Micowski scored one with a base hit, at which point Cecil Tanner emerged from the bullpen and coaxed a double-play grounder from Kolowich. Although Hammond scored on the play and Wood plated Malone with a single, the latest Bulldog hurler struck out Logan to preserve the home team’s three-run lead.
For the third straight even-numbered inning, the Red and Black failed to score in the bottom of the canto, while GSU had only a two-out walk to show for the visitors’ half of the seventh stanza. The Athenians added to their lead with a leadoff single, a stolen base, and a two-out RBI double before Jeff Walters was sent in as the eighth frame got underway.
Malone led off with a base hit, after which a one-out Kolowich single and a Wood walk put three men aboard. A wild pitch scored one run and a Logan groundout plated another before a called third strike halted the stanza with the Diamond Dogs still leading by two. Georgia added to that advantage in the lower half of the canto when Ruiz reached on an error and advanced to second, Schilling sacrificed him over to third, and Todd Hankins brought him home with a base hit. A Verdin single, coupled with a Panther error, scored another run.
Justin Grimm gave up a single to Williams to start the top of the ninth inning. The Georgia State first baseman took second on a groundout and advanced to third on a wild pitch, but the next two visiting batters struck out and fouled out, respectively, to strand the baserunner and give the Athenians the win.
With these two teams, no one expected a pitchers’ duel, but both squads had trouble keeping opposing batters off of the basepaths. The Panthers led off with a single in six of nine stanzas, while the Bulldogs got their first batter on base half a dozen times in eight cantos. Although Georgia left twelve men on base, the Athenians often made good on their opportunities, batting seven for sixteen and notching six RBI with two outs against them.
The Diamond Dogs got good production out of Zach Cone (2 for 6, 3 RBI), Todd Hankins (2 for 5, 1 RBI), Levi Hyams (1 for 4, 2 BB, 3 RBI, 1 HR), Kevin Ruiz (4 for 5, 2 RBI), Johnathan Taylor (3 for 5, 1 BB, 1 RBI), and Peter Verdin (4 for 5). Blake Dieterich and Justin Earls gave up three earned runs apiece, but the Classic City Canines got five innings of scoreless relief out of Justin Grimm, Chase Hawkins, and Cecil Tanner. To top it all off, Georgia finally won a baseball game in which the Bulldogs did not commit an error.