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The Diamond Dogs came into Sunday night’s game knowing every aspect of the situation was working against them. Oregon State was the top-seeded team in the regional playing on its home field. Georgia had played an eleven-inning elimination game earlier in the day before having to confront a team with which the Red and Black historically has struggled in a game scheduled to start at 9:00 p.m. body standard time. Of course, the Classic City Canines had overcome adversity before, but they came up just short this time, falling 6-4.
Blake Dieterich got the start for just the fourth time this season, and he surrendered only a two-out single in the top of the first inning. Georgia, by contrast, delivered a leadoff single off the bat of second baseman Levi Hyams in the bottom of the canto and moved the runner around on a wild pitch, a flyout, and a groundout to take a 1-0 lead.
That advantage proved short-lived, as the Beavers answered with a one-out home run in the top of the second stanza. The Athenians began their turn at the plate by drawing consecutive walks to force an Oregon State pitching change, but the new OS hurler retired the next three Georgia batters without allowing a baserunner past third.
A double by shortstop Kyle Farmer with third baseman Curt Powell on base in the bottom of the third frame gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 edge, but the Beavers went out in front in the upper half of the fourth inning on a leadoff triple, a single, two hit batsmen, and a sacrifice fly. Oregon State’s 3-2 lead remained unchanged until the top of the seventh canto, in which a one-out solo home run marked the end of the line for Dieterich. In six and one-third stanzas, Dieterich allowed eight hits and four earned runs.
Georgia climbed back to within one in the bottom of the inning when a leadoff double by first baseman Jonathan Hester, a baserunner-advancing OS fielding error, and a first-pitch base hit up the middle by pinch hitter Chase Davidson added up to an unearned run for the Red and Black. The Diamond Dogs were not done, however, because a sacrifice bunt and a pair of singles plated one more to make the score 4-4.
The Beavers loaded the bases with one out in the top of the eighth stanza on a pair of singles and a hit batsman, leading ultimately to one run but no more. Unfortunately, that 5-4 lead held up after eight innings, even though Georgia had a man on first with one out, and Oregon State was able to make it 6-4 in the upper half of the ninth frame with a leadoff walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a run-scoring double.
That left the Classic City Canines down to the last three outs of the season, and the bizarre bottom of the canto featured the Beaver reliever being hit by a batted ball and the lights going out in Corvallis. Pinch hitter Kevin Ruiz registered a leadoff single and Powell drew a one-out walk to bring the would-be winning run to the plate, but Farmer flied out and left fielder Zach Cone did likewise to conclude the inning, the outing, the regional, and the season.
Given the way the odds were stacked against them, the Diamond Dogs put forth a valiant and commendable effort, coming up just short on the other side of the continent and offering some hope that this program his headed back in the right direction. While I had hoped to see the Red and Black bound for a super regional date with the Vanderbilt Commodores, I am proud of this team for making the NCAA field, so, although I am disappointed, I am not disheartened.