The "I told you so"s may begin in earnest, as the positive mental attitude evidenced by the first (and last) installment of Manic Kyle Monday produced the predicted unhappy ending when the Diamond Dogs dropped a one-run decision to Florida in the most agonizing manner imaginable.
After the Red and Black were set down in sequence in the visitors’ half of the first frame, Matt den Dekker turned an 0-2 pitch into a one-out base hit in the bottom of the canto. The Gators center fielder proceeded to steal a pair of bases before Justin Grimm plunked Austin Maddox with the count full. A two-out Brian Johnson single scored a run to give the Orange and Blue an early advantage.
The Sunshine State Saurians built on that lead in the second stanza. Georgia had just a two-out Brett DeLoach single to show for the top of the inning, but Florida used a one-out single, a stolen base, and a Mike Zunino hit to left field to plate another run.
The Classic City Canines carded only a trio of groundouts in the upper half of the third canto, whereas the Gators produced a pair of first-pitch outs in the home half of the frame before Grimm caught Johnson looking on a payoff pitch. The Bulldogs’ bats finally came to life in the top of the fourth inning.
Todd Hankins led off with a base hit before Levi Hyams moved him over to third with a double down the left field line. A passed ball allowed both baserunners to advance and the lead runner to score. Once Zach Cone walked, Kyle Farmer dropped a single into right field to score Hyams. Cone scored on the throw when DeLoach reached on a fielder’s choice. Although Kevin Ruiz sent a first-pitch flyout into right field and DeLoach was caught stealing, the visitors had cut the deficit in hits to 5-4 and taken the lead in runs by a 3-2 margin.
With one out away in the bottom of the stanza, Josh Adams reached on a Hankins fielding error and took second on a wild pitch. Grimm retired the next two Orange and Blue batters.
The following four frames were scoreless as the pitchers’ duel continued. Neither team registered a hit in a fifth canto; each club notched a single and hit into a double play in the sixth inning; the seventh stanza featured only a leadoff walk in the Gators’ turn at the plate. The Diamond Dogs went three up and three down in the top of the eighth canto before Justin Earls took over in the bottom of the inning and retired the side in sequence.
Georgia generated just a two-out single in the upper half of the ninth frame, so it fell to Cooper Moseley to secure the three outs standing between the Athenians and a wildly improbable victory. Instead, the Red and Black experienced perhaps their most disheartening meltdown of the season.
Another Hankins error allowed Johnson to reach base. Daniel Pigott reached base on a first-pitch sacrifice bunt, then an error by Moseley on another first-pitch sacrifice bunt allowed the tying run to score. After Tyler Thompson was walked intentionally, a Zunino sacrifice fly plated the game-winning unearned run.
Damn. Just damn.