The Diamond Dogs had to win two in a row against some of the best teams in the country, and they knew going in that the odds were against them. Nevertheless, Georgia beat top-ranked South Carolina to set up a Saturday showdown against third-ranked Florida with an NCAA Tournament bid on the line. The good guys prevailed, 4-3, thanks to another solid pitching performance in another gutty win.
The two teams traded two-run turns at the plate in the opening canto before the Bulldogs registered a pair of first-pitch singles in the top of the third frame, opening the door for Zach Cone, who brought one home with a single, and Brett DeLoach, who brought another home with a sacrifice fly. A Georgia throwing error permitted an unearned run to score in the bottom of the fourth frame, so the contest proceeded to the fifth inning with the Red and Black leading, 4-3, in runs and the combatants deadlocked, 5-5, in hits.
The draw in hits did not stand---Georgia ultimately finished with a 9-8 lead in that category---but the score remained unchanged, as the Classic City Canines held the Sunshine State Saurians scoreless for the final five frames. Michael Palazzone contributed four innings of three-hit, two-strikeout, one-run, no-walk pitching, and Tyler Maloof once again proved himself to be as money as---dare I say it?---Joshua Fields in 2008, coming on in the ninth to face three batters and collect yet another save.
The Diamond Dogs will play another game later today, facing Florida a second time for the right to challenge the Commodores for the conference tourney title. Don’t get me wrong; I hope the Red and Black win that one, too . . . but, when the chips were down, Georgia won the games it mattered for Georgia to win. Bulldog baseball is back, baby!