The Diamond Dogs welcomed Furman to Foley Field on Tuesday. The Paladins came into the game sporting a 17-20 ledger, but, thanks to one bad inning on the mound by Michael Palazzone, who inexplicably was doing weeknight duty in middle relief after his best start of the year last weekend, the Paladins left Athens with a 5-4 victory.
Starter David Sosebee plunked the first Furman batter he faced, but the baserunner was erased when catcher Joey Delmonico gunned him down while attempting to steal second. In the bottom of the opening inning, center fielder Peter Verdin and designated hitter Nelson Ward drew back-to-back walks. Although shortstop Kyle Farmer grounded into a double play, Verdin made it as far as third, scoring easily on a triple by first baseman Jonathan Hester. A base hit by right fielder Justin Bryan brought a second run home.
Sosebee and reliever Jarrett Brown had a no-hitter going through three cantos before Palazzone took over on the mound at the outset of the fourth frame. The regular weekend starter surrendered a leadoff single, a stolen base, and a follow-up base hit, which, when coupled with a Hester error, permitted the Paladins to score.
Palazzone walked the next batter and gave up the game-tying double to the Furman hitter who followed him before securing the first out of the inning. A groundout pushed the go-ahead run across, then a two-run shot to left field knotted the hits at four apiece and gave the visitors a 5-2 lead. Georgia got back one run in the Red and Black’s turn at the plate when Verdin was hit by a pitch, swiped second base, and came home on a two-out single.
The Classic City Canines crept another run closer in the fifth stanza when Hester drew a leadoff walk, advanced on a stolen base, advanced again on a wild pitch, and scored on a sacrifice fly. The Paladins threatened in the sixth inning, putting runners on second and third with one out, but Luke Crumley fanned the next two Furman batters. Although this set the stage for the Athenians to snarl the score when Delmonico led off the home half of the frame with a double, the Bulldog catcher still remained there a strikeout, a pop-up, and a groundout later.
Furman put two aboard with no one out in the top of the seventh canto, but Pete Nagel set down the next three visiting batters to keep the hits even at six per side and the Red and Black’s run deficit at one. That gap remained unchanged after the bottom of the eighth inning in spite of the fact that left fielder Conor Welton drew a one-out walk, advanced to second on a groundout, and advanced to third on a passed ball. Third baseman Curt Powell flied out to strand the would-be tying run, and Farmer’s two-out base hit in the home half of the final frame likewise went to waste.
The four Georgia pitchers other than Palazzone combined to strike out six, walk two, and concede three hits in eight scoreless stanzas. Meanwhile, the Diamond Dogs drew six walks, stole three bases, and notched both a double and a triple in a losing effort. The Red and Black left three baserunners in scoring position in the final four frames, during which David Perno replaced Jonathan Hester (1 for 2, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB, 2 R) with Colby May (0 for 2, 1 K) and removed Justin Bryan (2 for 3, 1 RBI) in favor of Jared Walsh (0 for 1).
On Friday, the Bulldogs begin a three-game SEC series with No. 5 Florida in Gainesville. Yeah, that ought to go well!