One day after beating Clemson for the first time since 2009, the Diamond Dogs began a five-game homestand tonight against No. 18 Ole Miss in ESPNU’s SEC Thursday night game of the
weak week. The Red and Black won tonight the same way they won last night, by falling behind early, taking the lead with a big inning, and hanging on to card the victory.
Michael Palazzone (who came into the game sporting an 0-4 record and a 5.68 ERA) got the start against Rebel righty Bobby Wahl (5-0, 1.94), and neither hurler surrendered a hit to any of the contest’s first eleven batters, though Wahl gave up a leadoff walk to second baseman Levi Hyams in the home half of the first frame. Consecutive one-out singles by right fielder Peter Verdin and left fielder Conor Welton in the second stanza were followed by back-to-back strikeouts by catcher Joey Delmonico and third baseman Curt Powell.
Mississippi broke out the big boy bats in the top of the third inning, using a trio of singles and a two-out double to go up by two in both hits (4-2) and runs (2-0). Designated hitter Brett DeLoach narrowly missed a home run when he sent one over the wall just outside the foul pole in the fourth canto, but the Red and Black went three up and three down in the frame. After center fielder Hunter Cole made an outstanding run-saving grab in the visitors’ half of the fifth stanza, the Bulldogs finally showed some signs of life at the plate.
Four straight one-out singles by Delmonico, Powell, Hyams, and shortstop Kyle Farmer in the bottom of the inning gave Georgia a 6-5 edge in hits, tied the game at two runs per side, and forced Wahl from the mound. The new Ole Miss pitcher retired the next two Red and Black batters, and play proceeded to the sixth frame, where a single snarled the hits at six and a pair of Welton errors led to a pair of unearned runs, the first of which came on a bizarre play.
Verdin’s one-out double in the home half of the canto knotted the hits anew at seven apiece but otherwise accomplished nothing, as the Red and Black right fielder became the sixth stranded Bulldog baserunner in as many innings. The seventh stanza saw Farmer’s two-out single followed up by a Cole double, but the Georgia shortstop was gunned down at home plate to leave the 4-2 deficit unaltered.
DeLoach led off the bottom of the eighth with a base hit, after which first baseman Colby May drew a base on balls and both baserunners advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch. The Rebels went to their closer, who promptly walked Verdin to load the bases for Welton. The Red and Black left fielder hit into the fielder’s choice that left runners at the corners, one out away, and the score 4-3.
Pinch hitter Nelson Ward then muscled a single into left field to tie the game, and Powell thereafter notched another base hit to put three aboard for Hyams, who went down swinging. Fortunately, Farmer drove a bases-clearing double into center field, scoring three, and Cole tacked on one more with an RBI single to close out the six-run inning.
The “underwhelming” Palazzone retook the hill in the ninth frame, closing out a complete-game performance in which he fanned eight, walked none, conceded two earned runs, and scattered nine hits over as many innings. Farmer led the way at the plate, going three for five with four RBI and notching one of the Diamond Dogs’ three doubles of the evening.
Tomorrow night, Alex Wood (4-1, 2.45) will get the start with the chance to card an SEC series victory over a ranked opponent.