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After beating Alcorn State on Tuesday to halt a losing streak, the Diamond Dogs welcomed the Braves back to Foley Field on Wednesday afternoon. David Perno emptied the bench in a laugher as the Athenians tallied 23 runs on 22 hits, thanks to a pair of six-run innings and one seven-run stanza.
Taylor Hicks got the start, pitching his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the first frame before the Red and Black came up to the plate and took early command of the contest. Center fielder Nelson Ward drew a leadoff walk, and second baseman Levi Hyams brought him home with a double. A pair of flyouts later, left fielder Hunter Cole drove a two-run shot to left field. First baseman Jonathan Hester walked, took second on a wild pitch, and came home on a single by designated hitter Heath Holder, who advanced two bases on a couple of wild pitches before third baseman Curt Powell drew a base on balls, as well.
A double by right fielder Peter Verdin scored one run, then a single by Ward scored two to conclude a five-hit, seven-run inning. Consecutive singles to start the upper half of the second stanza paved the way for a two-out three-run homer by Alcorn State, but Georgia responded in the bottom of the canto with a leadoff double by shortstop Kyle Farmer, a one-out double by Cole, and two-out singles by Holder, Powell, and Verdin to make the score 10-3.
Though the third and fourth frames were scoreless, the Braves used three hits (one of them a home run) and two Bulldog errors to notch a trio of runs in the top of the fifth inning. Again the Classic City Canines answered, using a leadoff walk, a wild pitch, and a two-out single to add an insurance run in the bottom of the canto.
Hester led off the home half of the sixth stanza with a home run, then the Diamond Dogs loaded the bases with two singles and a walk. An Alcorn State error scored one run, a Hyams base hit scored another, and a fielder’s choice hit into by Farmer plated a third. A passed ball and another error allowed two more to cross home plate to cap off a five-hit, six-run inning.
The Red and Black barrage continued in the bottom of the eighth frame, in which catcher Brandon Stephens led off with a single, took second on a wild pitch, and scored on a double by first baseman Colby May and an error by Alcorn State. Designated hitter Jared Walsh walked, and Powell was plunked, to load the bases for left fielder Justin Bryan, who belted a grand slam to left field.
The Diamond Dogs’ dominance was not done, however. Center fielder Conor Welton was hit by a pitch, moved over to second on a passed ball, took third on a Hyams single, and came home on an Alcorn State error. Blake Dieterich came on to close out the contest in the top of the ninth inning, and he struck out the side to bring the game, mercifully, to an end.
The outing was hardly a pretty one---the two teams committed seven errors between them---but the Bulldogs finally found some offense. In five of the eight innings in which the Red and Black batted, the Georgia leadoff hitter got aboard, and, in the other three cantos, the second Athenian batter reached base. Georgia hitters drew nine walks, were plunked thrice, notched seven doubles (including three off the bat of Farmer), and smashed three home runs. Though the first three hometown hurlers conceded 13 hits and five earned runs, the last three Georgia pitchers conceded no runs, no hits, and only one walk.