Diamond Dogs Drop Weekend Opener to UCLA in Pitchers' Duel

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
UCLA Bruins 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 9 1
Georgia Bulldogs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 1

Though neither university boasted an upper-tier basketball team this season, Georgia and UCLA both field pretty good baseball teams, and, last year, the Bulldogs beat the Bruins in a pitchers’ duel. The prevailing starter in that contest in Los Angeles was Alex Wood, the reigning SEC pitcher of the week, who this Friday night struck out five, walked one, and allowed six hits and two earned runs in six and two-thirds innings of work in a 2-0 Georgia loss.

Both clubs placed men on second base in the first frame, but a Bruin error produced the only baserunner of the next two innings. A one-out single and a two-run homer staked UCLA to an early lead in the top of the fourth canto, and the visitors threatened to extend their lead in the fifth frame, when an error by catcher Brandon Stephens allowed a Bruin baserunner to reach third, but Wood struck out the final batter to strand him there.

The sixth stanza also saw the Californians put a player on third, but Wood again fanned the hitter who would have brought him home. In the bottom of that selfsame inning, designated hitter Nelson Ward collected the first Bulldog hit since the opening canto, but a fielder’s choice, a flyout, and a strikeout prevented the Athenians from advancing the baserunner into scoring position.

The seventh frame saw another UCLA baserunner make it into scoring position with two outs away, at which point David Perno sent in Bryan Benzor to relieve Wood. The new Georgia hurler extracted the groundout that ended the Bruins’ turn at the plate. Left fielder Hunter Cole led off the home half of the inning with a double, and right fielder Peter Verdin put runners at the corners with a one-out bunt single, but Stephens went down swinging and third baseman Curt Powell flied out to strand both Bulldogs.

The visitors put two men aboard with no one out in the top of the eighth frame, but Benzor retired the next three batters to keep the deficit at 2-0, while no Classic City Canine made it as far as first base in the bottom of the stanza. The ninth inning saw UCLA again leave two men on base when Chase Hawkins struck out the last Bruin batter to bring the Diamond Dogs to the plate for the final scheduled stanza. Georgia went quietly in the bottom of the inning on a pair of flyouts and a strikeout.

The Bulldogs’ bats had been a concern coming into this series, and UCLA’s pitching proved as good as usual. The Red and Black’s problems were compounded by Coach Perno’s questionable decisionmaking in this outing. With two men on and one out away in the seventh inning, he sent to the plate his number eight and nine hitters, who between them went hitless in six at-bats. Coach Perno did not insert a pinch hitter into the lineup until two outs were against his team in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Go ‘Dawgs!

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