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After the Diamond Dogs upset the Palmetto State Poultry on Friday, the Red and Black went for the series victory over the defending national champion Gamecocks on Saturday. Unfortunately, just as the softball team did in Tuscaloosa the day before, Georgia dropped a 2-1 decision on the road against South Carolina.
Starter Michael Palazzone surrendered seven hits in seven and two-thirds innings, facing 30 batters and registering six strikeouts while walking no one and giving up a lone earned run. His only run support came in the third inning, when catcher Joey Delmonico led off the visitors’ turn at the plate by drawing a walk on a 3-2 count. Left fielder Peter Verdin also worked the count full before being hit by a pitch, and third baseman Curt Powell’s ensuing sacrifice bunt advanced both baserunners. A groundout by second baseman Levi Hyams brought Delmonico home to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead that would hold up heading into the bottom of the eighth frame.
Palazzone began the inning by striking out the first two batters he faced, but, when back-to-back extra-base hits produced a tie game and left a runner in scoring position, Patrick Boling came in from the bullpen and extricated an inning-ending strikeout from catcher Brady Thomas. In the ninth canto, with extra innings ostensibly looming, Boling conceded consecutive singles to start the South Carolinians’ time at bat. The Bulldog closer got the next two batters out and appeared to be on the verge of pitching out of the jam when second baseman Scott Wingo turned a payoff pitch into the run-scoring infield single that ended the game and snarled the series.
The rubber match to settle the opening three-game SEC set for both teams commences at 1:30 tomorrow afternoon. While it was disappointing that the Diamond Dogs let this one get away, it is encouraging that the Classic City Canines have been competitive with the Palmetto State Poultry, and that they head into Sunday with a distinct shot at taking the series.