After the Diamond Dogs turned in a respectable pitching performance in Friday night’s loss to Tennessee, the Red and Black took the field against the Volunteers on Saturday afternoon hoping to improve their production at the plate. While Georgia did better in the batter’s box, producing five runs on fourteen hits, the Classic City Canines were hammered by the Tennesseans in an embarrassing 25-5 beatdown.
Jeff Walters struck out the first two batters he faced in the upper half of the initial inning before coaxing a flyout from P.J. Polk. Big Orange starter Steven Gruver took the hill in the bottom of the canto and retired the side on a pop-up, a strikeout, and a flyout.
With two outs away in the top of the second stanza, Charley Thurber sent a single into left field and Matt Duffy dropped a double into that same part of the park. Cody Stubbs swung at strike three to strand two. Accordingly, the Diamond Dogs drew first blood in the home half of the frame, when a pair of two-out walks with a trio of singles sandwiched between them produced a pair of runs. It was all downhill from there.
The first three Volunteer batters in the top of the third inning loaded the bases on a pair of singles and an intervening walk. Polk plated two with a base hit to left field, then Cody Hawn homered to bring in three more. Following a solo shot by Blake Forsythe and a couple of singles, Blake Dieterich took over on the mound and surrendered a three-run dinger to Matt Ramsey.
The canto continued in this manner, with a walk and a double putting two men aboard for Josh Liles, who brought another run home with a groundout. A Polk home run brought two more the rest of the way around, and a Hawn walk and a Forsythe single generated another pair of baserunners. A two-out Duffy double scored another man for the thirteenth and final run of the dozen-hit stanza.
From there, it was all over but the shouting. Steve Esmonde surrendered a run in the top of the fourth frame on a Forsythe RBI single, and the sixth stanza saw Forsythe drive a three-run homer to left field. Georgia’s tepid responses---Kevin Ruiz’s RBI double in the bottom of the sixth inning, Levi Hyams’s run-scoring single in the seventh canto, and Kyle Farmer’s solo home run in the eighth frame---were more than offset by eight runs in the last two stanzas, including a six-run ninth inning powered by a Polk homer.
The Bulldogs committed a trio of errors and conceded twice as many hits as they collected . . . which is saying something, considering the fact that fourteen is a considerable number of hits. Jeff Walters allowed eight earned runs on nine hits in two innings’ worth of work, while the bullpen gave up seven walks, nineteen hits, and fifteen earned runs in seven cantos. Blake Forsythe (4 for 5, 5 RBI, 2 HR) and P.J. Polk (5 for 6, 6 RBI, 2 HR) had career days against the Athenians in a campaign that continues to provide reasons for believing this is the worst season in Georgia baseball history.