After failing to score in a loss to the Bruins on Friday, the Diamond Dogs rebounded to notch ten hits and six runs against UCLA on Saturday, yet the Red and Black still lost, as Georgia was doomed by a quartet of errors in a one-run setback.
The visiting Californians failed to produce a baserunner for the first four frames, but the hometown Athenians were putting men aboard from the outset: Georgia stranded two in the first inning and left a man 90 feet from home plate in the second stanza before taking a 3-0 lead in the third canto on a leadoff walk by second baseman Nelson Ward, subsequent singles by center fielder Conor Welton and first baseman Jonathan Hester, a double by shortstop Kyle Farmer, and a sacrifice fly by designated hitter Brett DeLoach.
After the Red and Black stranded catcher Brandon Stephens in scoring position in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Bruins tied the game in the top of the fifth frame. Though UCLA did its part by carding a trio of singles in the canto, Georgia bent over backwards to aid the visitors’ cause, committing a pair of errors, throwing a wild pitch, and plunking an opposing batter to enable the Californians to score three runs, two of which were unearned.
UCLA broke the deadlock in the sixth stanza, which opened with consecutive base hits to put runners at the corners, enabling the Bruins to score the go-ahead run on a groundout to short. The Diamond Dogs forged another tie in the seventh inning, beginning with the leadoff double by third baseman Curt Powell that became a run thanks to a wild pitch and another Farmer double.
The visitors reclaimed the lead in the eighth frame, in which the leadoff hitter reached on an error, the next Bruin batter reached on another error to plate an unearned run, a passed ball moved the remaining baserunner over to third, and an actual base hit brought home another unearned run. The Classic City Canines got out of the inning when Stephens scooped up a ball barely put into play with the bases loaded, stepped on home plate for the force out, and threw to first base for the double play.
In the home half of the same stanza, Georgia loaded the bases with two outs away on back-to-back singles and a base on balls, then a UCLA error permitted the Bulldogs to notch an unearned run, as well, before Farmer struck out swinging to leave three of his teammates aboard. In the top of the ninth inning, a leadoff double, a wild pitch, and a two-out single added an insurance run which came in handy for the Bruins when the Classic City Canines used a leadoff walk, a one-out double, and a wild pitch to score the run that made it 7-6. Pinch hitter Kevin Ruiz grounded out with the would-be tying run on third base to wrap up a one-run defeat for the home team.
On Friday, much of the blame belonged in the dugout instead of on the diamond, but that was not the case on Saturday, as David Perno’s decisionmaking was much less suspect. Coach Perno decided to start Hester at first base for the first time all year, and the senior responded by going three for five at the plate, driving in a run, playing error-free baseball in the field, and chasing down the foul ball along the right field line that ended the Bruins’ turn at the plate in the third canto. Likewise, Coach Perno used a trio of pinch hitters, starting in the seventh stanza and including Jared Walsh, whose base hit in the eighth frame started a two-out rally. Pinch runner Colby May also advanced to third in the ninth inning.
Coach Perno’s pitching decisions also proved prudent. Freshman Pete Nagel was given his third start of the season, despite his having failed to earn a decision in either of his previous two starts, and he responded with a five-inning performance in which he struck out four, walked none, conceded three hits, and gave up one earned run. Michael Palazzone, on the other hand, came in from the bullpen for his first appearance of the season in a relief pitching role, and he allowed no bases on balls and a lone earned run in two cantos’ worth of work.
The Athenians’ problems in this outing were obvious. Georgia led in hits (10-9), in extra-base hits (4-1), and in earned runs (5-3). However, thanks to four Red and Black errors, the Bruins scored four unearned runs and left just five men on base, while the Bulldogs stranded eleven. On Friday night, UCLA pitched well enough to take the win, but, on Saturday afternoon, Georgia fielded so poorly that the victory was given to the visitors. Like the bulk of the Bruins’ runs, though, their triumph was unearned.