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On Sunday afternoon at Foley Field, Taylor Hicks had his worst outing of the young season and the Diamond Dogs committed a trio of errors while leaving nine men on base. As a result, Western Illinois avoided the sweep by beating Georgia, 7-4.
Initially, though, it appeared the Bulldogs’ dominance of the Fighting Leathernecks would continue without interruption. The only WIU baserunner of the opening inning reached by being plunked, then third baseman Curt Powell sent the initial pitch of the home half of the first frame into left field for a base hit. A groundout and a passed ball moved him over to his accustomed spot on the diamond before shortstop Kyle Farmer brought him home with a base hit.
A wild pitch put the Georgia shortstop in scoring position, and second baseman Levi Hyams plated him with a groundout to give the Classic City Canines a short-lived 2-0 lead. It was then that the outing got away from the Red and Black.
The top of the second stanza got underway with four straight Leatherneck singles, which between them generated a run. A sacrifice fly pushed across the tying run, and a Farmer throwing error allowed the go-ahead score to cross home plate. The canto’s fifth base hit made it 4-2 in favor of the visitors.
Western Illinois padded its advantage in the top of the fourth frame after a Leatherneck batter was plunked with two outs away. A triple scored one, and a single scored another, to make the margin 6-2. Georgia loaded the bases in the bottom of the selfsame inning, but the Bulldogs had nothing to show for it, so WIU was able to increase its lead to five runs in the fifth canto, thanks to a walk, a pair of stolen bases, and a throwing error by catcher Brett DeLoach.
A Leatherneck error in the bottom of the eighth stanza set the stage for right fielder Peter Verdin to drive in two unearned runs with a two-out base hit, but, otherwise, the Athenians were held scoreless in the final eight frames. The Georgia pitching staff cumulatively struck out nine while walking only three, but the Diamond Dogs got dubious production from the lineup, as the Athenians’ leadoff hitter (Powell), cleanup hitter (Hyams), and designated hitter (Jared Walsh) together went two for 13 with two strikeouts, one RBI, and one walk.