|South Carolina Gamecocks||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||8||2|
The Diamond Dogs knew the stakes were huge when they crossed paths with the top-ranked defending national champion Gamecocks on Friday night, and they did what they had to do, scratching out the 4-2 win that ensured them of no worse than a .500 record and kept them alive for another day.
Thanks to a pair of fielding errors, a couple of singles, a double, and a wild pitch, Georgia took an improbable 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first frame. South Carolina got back one of those runs in the top of the second stanza on a trio of singles, but the Bulldogs answered in their turn at the plate on a pair of singles and a stolen base. The Gamecocks responded in the top of the third inning by loading the bases with one out, but Blake Dieterich got out of the jam by extracting a double-play ball from the Palmetto State Poultry after allowing only one run.
In the wake of a wild first two and a half cantos, the contest settled into a pitchers’ duel in which neither side could gain any traction, and, despite the presence of a number of baserunners along the way, the several stanzas that followed saw no additional scoring . . . ever. The Diamond Dogs held on to card a huge 4-2 win.
Obviously, the two South Carolina errors were important, but don’t dismiss this result as a fluke. Both teams notched eight hits in 33 at-bats, and Dieterich and the bullpen combined to pitch a whale of a game, silencing the Gamecocks’ bats for the final six frames.
The Bulldogs, who have a long history of underachieving in Hoover, at long last are playing at or above their level. The Athenians will be playing on Saturday at Regions Park, which is a tremendous accomplishment unto itself, but that achievement pales in comparison to the one the Red and Black could add to their resume tomorrow: Georgia is one win away from qualifying for the NCAA Tournament.