While the NCAA Tournament predictions were flying fast and furious, the University of Georgia was fielding multiple competitors in several sports on Saturday, so, as I did for Friday’s Red and Black athletics action, I bring you the day’s second edition of the Saturday summary:
Morgan Montemayor went the distance in Georgia’s 8-0 run-rule victory over Louisiana State, spending five innings in the circle and conceding four hits but allowing no runs. Third baseman Alisa Goler (2 for 3, 2 RBI), second baseman Ashley Pauly (2 for 2, 3 RBI), and left fielder Megan Wiggins (2 for 2, 1 RBI) led the way at the plate, with Wiggins carding a run-scoring single in the first frame and Pauly notching an RBI base hit in the second stanza before a Goler home run and a Pauly single added two runs apiece in the third canto.
A pair of unearned runs were tacked onto the Red and Black tally in the fourth inning to provide the final margin as the top college softball team in the land continued to justify its No. 1 ranking. Fortunately, there were 1,355 fans on hand at Jack Turner Softball Stadium, marking the largest crowd to have been present for a Bulldogs home game this season, so perhaps the Georgia softball squad is starting to receive some of the attention it deserves.
The Diamond Dogs claimed their fifth win in their last six games in Los Angeles on Saturday night, cobbling together a box score that looked like binary code---all ones and zeroes---while rebounding from an early deficit to hold the Men of Troy scoreless for the last eight innings. Tyler Maloof collected his sixth save of the season in the 5-3 road victory at Southern California’s Dedeaux Field, and Michael Palazzone got the win after pitching seven innings and striking out eight.
A hit batsman, a baserunner-advancing single, and a fielding error allowed the visitors to take an early lead in the top of the first frame, but USC moved out in front in the bottom of the canto. Three singles and a double added up to a 3-1 advantage for the Trojans, but Georgia began to chip away at that lead in the top of the third inning. Second baseman Levi Hyams led off with a bunt single, took second on a throwing error, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt, and came home on a sacrifice fly.
The Red and Black tied the game in the fourth frame. Aided by another USC error, the Classic City Canines loaded the bases for Hyams, who drew the walk that forced home a run. Georgia reclaimed the lead in the fifth inning when first baseman Jonathan Hester was plunked and designated hitter Brett DeLoach brought him the rest of the way around with a two-out double. The visiting Athenians added an insurance run in the sixth stanza, as outfielder Peter Verdin walked, stole second, took third on a double play grounder, and came home on right fielder Chase Davidson’s single up the middle.
Southern California, who matched the Diamond Dogs’ tally with eight hits, continued to battle into the bottom of the ninth canto. With two outs away, pinch hitters Mike Greco and Alex Glenn drew bases on balls, and both baserunners advanced on a wild pitch. With the tying run in scoring position, Maloof coaxed the inning’s third groundout from center fielder Omar Cotto Lozada to give the Athenians their second win in the Dodgertown Classic.
Despite a solid start to their final regular season meet, the No. 7 Gym Dogs fell to No. 9 Michigan on senior day. Georgia began on the vault, where seniors Hilary Mauro and Cassidy McComb carded a 9.95 and a 9.975, respectively, to pace a season-high 49.575 team score in the event. The Red and Black followed that up with a 49.325 tally on bars to post their second-highest mark of the season in that event.
When Georgia was forced to count two falls on beam, however, the Wolverines surged into the lead, as the Bulldogs managed only a 47.875 score. The home team’s 49.275 total for the floor exercise in the fourth rotation was not enough to overcome the deficit, and the Red and Black fell to the Maize and Blue by a 196.8-196.05 margin. Michigan has now taken two straight from Georgia in gymnastics, despite the fact that the Gym Dogs hold an all-time 36-5 series lead over the Wolverines. The Red and Black have lost four of their last six meets.
The second-ranked Georgia riders spent their Saturday in Hudson Oaks, Tex., where they faced the sixth-ranked Horned Frogs. The Bulldogs won all four events in their regular season finale against TCU, trouncing Texas Christian by a 17-2 margin heading into the Southern Equestrian Championships later this month.
The highlight of Saturday’s Zone B Championship was Ann-Perry Blank’s 11th-place finish in the platform competition, and, although Hannah Moore was the sole Red and Black NCAA diving qualifier, she and her swimming teammates will compete in the nationals in Austin, Tex., next week. Also, Georgia head diving coach Dan Laak said afterward, "We dove really well," which really grates on me, because dove is a game bird; the past tense of dive is dived.
At the NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station, Tex., defending collegiate 400-meter dash champion Torrin Lawrence claimed second place in that event on Saturday. The Bulldogs finished in 26th place overall.
Despite improving upon their first round score by seven strokes at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters, the Georgia men’s golf team inched up only one spot to eleventh overall. The Las Vegas-based tournament will conclude on Sunday.