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One day after shutting out Savannah State in freshman right-handed pitcher David Sosebee’s first collegiate start, the eighth-ranked Diamond Dogs hosted Western Carolina at Foley Field on Wednesday for freshman right-handed pitcher Pete Nagel’s second career first-team outing. Georgia struggled against a WCU team with a better RPI than the host squad’s, ultimately falling, 5-3, thanks to an error-fueled fifth-inning outburst marking the only crooked number posted on the scoreboard by either team.
A leadoff single and an RBI double in the top of the opening canto staked the visiting Catamounts to a 1-0 advantage, but the Red and Black responded in the bottom of the stanza, when a trio of base hits by center fielder Conor Welton, third baseman Curt Powell, and left fielder Hunter Cole tied the game. Western Carolina reclaimed the lead with a solo shot to left field in the upper half of the third frame.
In the bottom of that selfsame inning, Georgia snarled the score anew on walk drawn by Powell and a run-scoring double belted into right field by shortstop Kyle Farmer. The Diamond Dogs went out in front in the fourth canto when first baseman Colby May drew a base on balls, catcher Brandon Stephens advanced the runner with a groundout, and right fielder Peter Verdin smacked the double to left field that made it 3-2, in favor of the home team.
The Georgia lead did not last long. A Farmer error and a pair of walks loaded the bases in the top of the fifth frame, permitting the Western Carolina second baseman to snarl the runs at three apiece and the hits at five per side. The next Catamount batter drew the walk that forced across the go-ahead run, and the one after that sent the sacrifice fly to center field that made the score 5-3, in favor of the visitors, in an outing whose first four innings had produced a box score that looked like binary code.
Although Nagel was lifted after striking out five of the first 18 batters he faced, the contest then became a pitchers’ duel between WCU starter Adam Curtis and Bulldog relievers Ross Ripple and Chase Hawkins, as 14 of the next 15 batters failed to reach base. Unfortunately, a two-out May single in the sixth canto was followed by a Stephens strikeout, a two-out Powell walk in the seventh stanza was followed by a Farmer groundout, and a one-out Cole base hit in the eighth frame was followed by a double-play grounder by designated hitter Brett DeLoach.
Closer Bryan Benzor retired the side on a flyout, a groundout, and a strikeout in the top of the ninth inning, marking the fourth straight canto in which the Catamounts went three up and three down. In the home half of the final stanza, pinch hitter Nelson Ward drew a one-out walk, but the next two batters struck out and lined out, respectively, to deal the Diamond Dogs the season’s first loss, in a two-run decision in which the Red and Black notched two more hits but the opposition tallied two unearned runs.