Are you kidding me? You have to be kidding me. You cannot be serious, can you? Do you mean to tell me that, after losing 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning last night, the Diamond Dogs lost 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning again on Saturday?
The Red and Black were retired on a pop-up, a groundout, and a strikeout in the top of the first frame before Jeff Walters took the mound in the home half of the canto and walked the first batter he faced. Although the next batter hit into a fielder’s choice, Preston Tucker’s full-count base hit put runners at the corners. A wild pitch allowed Matt den Dekker to score before the next two hitters struck out and popped up, respectively.
The second stanza saw the Georgians again go three up and three down, while the Floridians squandered a one-out walk and a hit batsman by striking out and grounding out to strand both baserunners. Kevin Ruiz contributed a leadoff single and a one-out stolen base in the upper half of the third frame, enabling Christian Glisson to score him with a single. Two-out base hits by Johnathan Taylor and Levi Hyams brought home the go-ahead run.
The Gators answered with a leadoff home run off the bat of den Dekker in the bottom of the inning, but the next three Gator batters all notched strikeouts. The Classic City Canines had only a two-out first-pitch single by Ruiz to show for their turn at the plate in the fourth canto, while Walters retired the Sunshine State Saurians in the home half of the stanza.
Glisson registered a leadoff single in the visitors’ half of the fifth frame, but the basepaths were cleared when Peter Verdin reached on a fielder’s choice and was caught stealing. Consequently, there was no one aboard when Taylor tripled, and Hyams left the Georgia center fielder 90 feet from home plate when he was put out at first. No Orange and Blue batter made it as far as first base in the bottom of the inning.
The sixth canto saw the Bulldogs produce a pair of two-out singles and the Gators generate a run on back-to-back base hits, a double-play grounder that advanced the lead runner, and a wild pitch. The Red and Black had only a strikeout, a flyout, and a groundout to show for the top of the seventh stanza.
Cecil Tanner took over in the bottom of the inning, relieving Walters after the Georgia starter had struck out eight, walked two, and surrendered four hits and three earned runs in six frames. The new Bulldog hurler retired the first two hitters he faced before plunking Jonathan Pigott, walking Nolan Fontana, and allowing the lead runner to advance on a wild pitch. Justin Earls came in from the bullpen and extracted a groundout from den Dekker.
Zach Cone likewise made it as far as third base on a one-out single, a wild pitch, and a Kyle Farmer groundout, but Robert Shipman recorded a groundout of his own to leave a man aboard in the upper half of the eighth frame. The bottom of the stanza saw Bryson Smith send a first-pitch single into left center field with two outs away, after which Steve Esmonde was sent to the hill. Although Smith swiped second and took third on a Carson Schilling throwing error, Josh Adams fouled out to leave yet another runner on third.
The Athenians came up to the plate in the top of the ninth inning trailing by a run. Ruiz and Brett DeLoach both grounded out, but Schilling reached on an error. Verdin moved him into scoring position with a single, and Taylor drove in the tying run with a base hit of his own. The contest went to the home half of the final stanza with the Diamond Dogs three outs away from forcing extra innings . . . and Ben McMahan led off with a walk-off home run.
Georgia carded twice as many hits as Florida, amassing the Red and Black’s dozen on the strength of solid performances by Kevin Ruiz (3 for 4) and Johnathan Taylor (3 for 5). The Gators got six, with Preston Tucker (2 for 4) producing the home team’s only multi-hit game. The Classic City Canines left eight men on base, just two more than the Orange and Blue stranded.
Saturday’s outcome gave Florida its 36th victory and Georgia its 35th loss. The result generated the Gators’ 19th conference win and the Bulldogs’ 21st league defeat. The Athenians have gone 0-8 this season in SEC outings decided by a lone run.