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After being swept by the Alabama Crimson Tide (29-1), Georgia (23-4) dropped to No. 3 in the national rankings, behind new No. 1 Alabama and the second-ranked squad the Bulldogs will face in Gainesville this weekend, the Florida Gators (30-1). The Red and Black had no right to expect a midweek breather between those two series, because Wednesday night’s opponent came into the Classic City sporting a 28-2 record, with their only losses coming at the hands of the sixth-ranked Washington Huskies. Nevertheless, the Red and Black ended the evening with a 9-1 run-rule victory.
After Alison Owen retired the side in the top of the first inning, center fielder Taylor Schlopy led off the bottom of the canto with a home run. Second baseman Ashley Pauly turned the next pitch into a bunt single, and, following the base hit off the bat of left fielder Megan Wiggins that saw the lead runner cut down at third, third baseman Alisa Goler sent a two-run shot to right field. The Athenians added to their advantage in the second stanza, in which shortstop Laura Trout carded a first-pitch single with one out away and Pauly also collected a first-pitch single with two outs away to score a run.
A trio of two-out singles and a Trout throwing error allowed the Spartans to plate an unearned run in the top of the third frame, but Georgia answered in the home half of the inning. Goler led off with a single, after which right fielder Brianna Hesson scored two with a home run to left field. The Bulldogs tacked on three more in the fourth frame, starting with the Schlopy walk and the Pauly single that set the stage for a trio of RBI on a double by Wiggins, a single by Goler, and a first-pitch fielder’s choice hit into by first baseman Kristyn Sandberg. When USC Upstate managed only a two-out single in the top of the fifth stanza, the game was ended by the run rule.
The Red and Black needed a win like the one on Wednesday night. Alison Owen and Erin Arevalo together gave the Bulldogs five innings in the circle, between them striking out seven of the 20 batters they faced, conceding five hits in as many cantos, and allowing neither a base on balls nor an earned run. Led by Alisa Goler (3 for 3, 3 RBI) and Brianna Hesson (2 for 3, 2 RBI), the Athenians batted in nine runs; among Bulldogs who batted, only designated player Julia Echols and catcher Ashley Razey were held without either an RBI or a hit.
Georgia’s twelve hits included a double and three home runs---Georgia had nearly as many extra-base hits as the Spartans had hits---and the Classic City Canines ended the evening with two walks and only one strikeout. Aside from a lone error, it was very nearly a flawless effort against a decent team, which was just what the doctor ordered after what happened last weekend, and with what we have coming up this weekend.