On March 27, Clemson’s Daniel Gossett outdueled Georgia’s David Sosebee as the Tigers took their fifth straight from the Diamond Dogs with a 10-5 triumph at Foley Field. On Wednesday night, Sosebee got his shot at revenge against Gossett when the Red and Black traveled to the Palmetto State for a rivalry game televised on CSS. In the rematch between the respective freshman right-handers at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, neither starting pitcher made it out of the fifth inning as Georgia notched a one-run road victory.
After the Classic City Canines stranded a pair of baserunners in the top of the first frame, the Fort Hill Felines strung together a double, a walk, and a single to take a 1-0 lead. In the second stanza, the visiting Athenians wasted a one-out walk with a double-play grounder before the hometown South Carolinians combined a walk, a double, a triple, and a home run to build up a 5-0 advantage.
That marked the end of the line for Sosebee, who walked two, fanned none, threw a wild pitch, and surrendered five hits (four of which went for extra bases) and five earned runs in one and one-third innings’ worth of work. Jay Swinford took over and retired the next two Clemson batters. The third canto was hitless and scoreless, but the Bulldogs managed to get on the board in the fourth frame.
Center fielder Hunter Cole drew a leadoff walk, and, after designated hitter Brett DeLoach struck out looking, first baseman Jonathan Hester walked and right fielder Justin Bryan was plunked to load the bases. Left fielder Conor Welton drove in a run with a first-pitch fielder’s choice before catcher Brandon Stephens carded the inning’s first hit, a single that brought home another run.
The Country Gentlemen got it back in the bottom of the canto, using a quartet of singles to generate a couple of runs, extending the Jungaleers’ margins to six in hits (9-3) and five in runs (7-2). In the top of the fifth inning, second baseman Levi Hyams led off with a single before Gossett, who was struggling with his control, issued a pair of one-out walks to load the bases. Pinch hitter Colby May smacked a single through the right side to bring home two, at which point the Tigers turned to the bullpen.
Orange and Purple reliever Patrick Andrews walked Bryan to put three aboard for Welton, who went down swinging. Stephens proceeded to punch a base hit through the right side, plating a pair, and third baseman Curt Powell notched the single that pushed across the tying run. Andrews next threw the wild pitch that gave Georgia an 8-7 edge in runs, despite the Red and Black’s 9-7 deficit in hits, and the Clemson reliever issued a base on balls to Hyams on four straight pitches before extracting a strikeout from shortstop Kyle Farmer.
The Tigers loaded the bases in the home half of the canto on a leadoff walk, a one-out single, and a two-out walk, but Pete Nagel entered the game and sneaked a called third strike past the first batter he faced to preserve the Diamond Dogs’ slender lead. Nagel’s first three pitches in the bottom of the sixth stanza produced a single and a pair of flyouts to left in what wound up being a scoreless frame.
Welton was hit by a pitch to get the seventh inning underway, and Stephens moved him over with a sacrifice bunt, but the next two Red and Black batters managed only to advance the Georgia left fielder as far as third. Clemson thereafter came up to bat, got a man aboard on a Powell fielding error, and moved him over with a sacrifice bunt, but the next two Orange and Purple batters managed only to advance left fielder Jay Baum as far as third.
Luke Crumley threw first-pitch balls to each of the first three batters he faced in the bottom of the eighth stanza, but he conceded neither a hit nor a run, and the only baserunner he allowed reached on another Powell fielding error. Right fielder Peter Verdin was plunked with one out away in the top of the ninth frame, took second on a stolen base, and moved over to third on a Welton single, but his teammates left him there, so Blake Dieterich took over on the hill as the Athenians’ eighth pitcher of the night. The Bulldog closer collected the save without fanfare, retiring the side in sequence.
This win was huge, and not just because it staved off a third straight season sweep in the border rivalry. Following a shaky start by Sosebee, the bullpen delivered seven and two-thirds innings of six-hit, two-run relief, blanking the host Tigers in six of the last seven frames. Though the first four batters in the Georgia order together went two for 15 without driving in a run, the last three hitters in the lineup collectively went five for 13 and batted in five runs. The Country Gentlemen had more hits (11-8) and fewer errors (2-0), but the Diamond Dogs found a way to get it done to claim a rivalry game, snap a losing streak, and card the season’s 20th victory.