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In spite of Bulldog Nation’s disappointment at the end of men’s basketball season, the weekend got off to a positive start when the Georgia baseball team went on the road and defeated defending national champion South Carolina in the opening game of a three-game SEC series.
Conference pitcher of the week Alex Wood got the start and the win, securing the first 25 outs and fanning six Gamecocks in the process. Wood surrendered seven hits, two walks, and two earned runs to the 34 batters he faced before Tyler Maloof came in from the bullpen and carded his seventh save.
The Palmetto State Poultry scored twice, generating the first run in the third inning on a leadoff bunt, a one-out walk, a baserunner-advancing flyout, and a run-scoring single. In the final frame, Wood gave up a one-out home run and a four-pitch walk to bring the would-be tying run to the plate, but Maloof managed to extract outs from both of the batters he faced to conclude the contest with the Classic City Canines in the lead.
The Diamond Dogs took a two-run lead in the top of the opening canto, going out in front 1-0 on a one-out single by second baseman Levi Hyams (3 for 4, 1 RBI) and a follow-up double by center fielder Zach Cone (1 for 4, 1 RIWWB). The first of five Carolina errors later allowed an unearned run to cross home plate. The Gamecocks committed two more miscues in the third canto, when third baseman Curt Powell (1 for 4) ended up in scoring position on a first-pitch single after a throwing error allowed him to advance. A base hit by Hyams and a Cone grounder brought him home.
The final Georgia run came in the top of the ninth stanza. Outfielder Peter Verdin (2 for 4) led off by sending the first pitch of the inning into left field for a base hit. Powell put down a sacrifice bunt on the next pitch, and, four pitches later, Hyams drove an RBI single to right field. Georgia finished the day with no errors and an 8-7 lead in hits.
The Diamond Dogs got back to .500 with Friday’s win, evening their overall ledger at 9-9 but improving to 1-0 in conference play. This was a big win for the Athenians, who will go for the series-clinching victory at 4:00 this afternoon. If the Red and Black can take one of the next two from a squad as solid as South Carolina, it will represent a positive sign that this program has learned how to win again after too lengthy a dry spell.