Although Friday’s headlines in Bulldog Nation were dominated by the Fox Hounds’ loss in the SEC Tournament, there were other athletic events of note involving University of Georgia undergraduates. Here is the short course in yesterday’s sports action in your Saturday summary:
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In their SEC softball opener, the Bulldogs hosted the Bayou Bengals for an outing from which the home team emerged with a 1-0 record in conference play. The game was scoreless through the bottom of the third inning, when a single by second baseman Ashley Pauly and walks by center fielder Taylor Schlopy and left fielder Megan Wiggins loaded the bases for third baseman Alisa Goler, whose first-pitch grand slam made it 4-0.
An LSU leadoff double and a Georgia throwing error allowed the Tigers to score a run in the top of the fifth frame before the Red and Black used two singles, a stolen base, and a double to tack on two more in the bottom of the sixth canto. Although Louisiana State answered with two runs in the top of the seventh frame, Alison Owen got the win with a six-inning, five-hit performance in which she fanned five of the 25 batters she faced.
As part of a West Coast road swing before beginning league play next weekend, the Diamond Dogs spent their Friday night in the City of Angels, where David Perno’s club opened the Dodgertown Classic at Jackie Robinson Stadium against the hometown Bruins. Starters Alex Wood for Georgia and Gerrit Cole for UCLA engaged in a pitchers’ duel, keeping the contest scoreless through six innings.
Cole did not permit a Red and Black baserunner for the first six stanzas, while Wood only allowed a one-out double in the home half of the opening canto and a hit batsman in the bottom of the third frame before the Bruins used a one-out single, a Georgia fielding error, and a stolen base to put two men in scoring position with two outs away in the fifth frame. Wood pitched out of the jam by throwing a called third strike on a payoff pitch to designated hitter Brian Carroll.
A two-out Dean Espy single in the sixth stanza was negated when the Bruin first baseman was caught stealing, and the Classic City Canines broke their drought at the plate in the top of the seventh inning when second baseman Levi Hyams turned an 0-2 pitch into a one-out double. After center fielder Zach Cone reached on a throwing error, designated hitter Chase Davidson punched a single through the right side to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. In the next at-bat, shortstop Kyle Farmer sent an 0-2 pitch over the left field wall to drive in three more runs.
Right fielder Chris Giovinazzo drove a two-out home run to left field in the bottom of the canto to make the score 4-1, but the Athenians answered in their half of the ninth stanza. After Farmer was plunked with one out away, first baseman Jonathan Hester homered to pad the Georgia lead. Nevertheless, the Bruins would not go quietly, opening their turn at the plate with a leadoff single, a double down the right field line, and a walk to load the bases for left fielder Cody Keefer, who drew a base on balls to force home a run.
Knowing that the first batter he faced represented the potential tying run, Tyler Maloof came on in relief of Patrick Boling and promptly struck out Giovinazzo. Catcher Tyler Heineman then grounded into the game-ending double play that gave the 2008 national runners-up the victory over the 2010 national runners-up. Maloof picked up his fifth save, while his team picked up its fourth win in a span of five games.
Cole faced 27 Bulldogs in seven innings, striking out twelve and walking one, while Wood crossed paths with 26 Bruins over the course of an identical seven frames, in which he fanned eleven and did not surrender a base on balls. The Diamond Dogs will face UCLA’s crosstown rivals, the USC Trojans, at Dedeaux Field at 7:00 Eastern on Saturday night.
In Athens, the No. 11 Georgia lady netters hosted the eighth-ranked Vanderbilt women’s tennis team, and the Bulldogs ran their season record to 7-1 with a 6-1 victory. Cameron Ellis was part of the duo who clinched the doubles point for the Red and Black, and she later emerged victorious from her singles match, 6-1, 6-1. In Nashville, the No. 9 Bulldog men’s tennis team faced the 23rd-ranked Commodores. The Georgia gents took the doubles point and cruised to a 6-1 triumph. With their respective Friday night wins over the Music City Mariners, both Bulldog tennis teams improved to 3-0 in SEC competition.
One day after she qualified for the NCAA Championships for the fourth year in a row, senior Hannah Moore led the way for Georgia with a sixth-place finish in the women’s three-meter springboard. The Bulldog divers will continue competing in the NCAA Zone B Championship at Gabrielsen Natatorium on Saturday.
Six Georgia track and field athletes traveled to College Station, Tex., for the first day of the NCAA Indoor Championships on Friday. Torrin Lawrence qualified for Saturday’s finals in the 400-meter dash, an event for which he is the defending national champion.
The Red and Black male linksters arrived in Las Vegas for the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters as the 13th-ranked team in the land, and they placed twelfth on the first day of competition. Freshman Michael Cromie led the way for the Bulldogs at three over par for the day. The tournament will continue on Saturday and conclude on Sunday.