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The Diamond Dogs and the Horsehide Horseflies arrived at Turner Field on Tuesday evening sporting identical 24-17 records for the season’s second meeting in the in-state series, the first of which Georgia won in Athens in dominant fashion. This time, it was a seesaw battle, and, though the Classic City Canines certainly had their chances, Georgia Tech notched a one-run victory.
Blake Dieterich got the start for the Red and Black, and he retired the side on a trio of groundouts in the top of the first frame. When the Bulldogs came up to bat, left fielder Conor Welton led off with a double, designated hitter Nelson Ward sacrificed him over to third, and shortstop Kyle Farmer brought him home with a groundout.
The Engineers’ first hit of the game was a leadoff double in the top of the third stanza. A bunt single moved him over one base, and a sacrifice fly tied the game. Dieterich coaxed a lineout from the next Golden Tornado batter and picked off the remaining baserunner to prevent additional damage. A pair of walks went to waste in the home half of the canto when a couple of flyouts followed.
A similar squandering occurred in the ensuing inning. Catcher Brett DeLoach drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the fourth frame, then a one-out hit-and-run with center fielder Peter Verdin at the plate put runners at the corners. A stolen base, a lineout, and a pitching change later, first baseman Colby May went down swinging to leave the outing deadlocked in hits (at two apiece) and in runs (at one per side).
The fifth canto saw Georgia Tech put two men in scoring position with two outs before Pete Nagel extracted a strikeout from the Yellow Jacket in the batter’s box, setting the stage for the Bulldogs to score the go-ahead run on a leadoff double by third baseman Curt Powell and an RBI single by Ward. However, the Classic City Canines had a man on second with one out in the fifth inning and a man on second with no outs in the sixth stanza, and the Red and Black stranded both.
Accordingly, Georgia’s one-run lead became a one-run deficit in the top of the seventh canto, when a one-out double and a two-out home run gave the advantage to the Ramblin’ Wreck. The Diamond Dogs tied it up in the bottom of the frame, as a base hit and a pair of hit batsmen put three aboard with one out for second baseman Levi Hyams, whose groundout plated one while the other two were left on base at inning’s end.
After a scoreless eighth stanza in which both clubs stranded men on second, Bryan Benzor gave up a single, allowed a stolen base, surrendered a run-scoring double, conceded a base on balls, and plunked a guy, all with two outs away in the visitors’ half of the ninth canto. Chase Hawkins came in from the bullpen with the bases loaded to put out the fire, but the Yellow Jackets had taken the lead, and the Diamond Dogs were unable to get a man as far as second base in their final turn at bat.
There’s not a lot of mystery to how this one went down. The Athenians bettered the Atlantans in hits (8-7) and in stolen bases (4-2), and the teams were tied in doubles, in hit batsmen, and in walks (at three each in every one of those categories), but the Engineers had the game’s only home run, and the Bulldogs left eleven men on base, while the Yellow Jackets stranded only nine. That was the difference in a back-and-forth ballgame.