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Starter Michael Palazzone delivered seven strong stanzas in a six-hit, seven-strikeout performance marred neither by a walk nor by an earned run, but the hero of today’s game against the Garnet and Black was catcher Joey Delmonico, who went three for five with two RBI in the eighth spot in the Georgia order as the Diamond Dogs notched an extra-inning victory over the visiting Gamecocks in Saturday’s SEC showdown.
The first two and a half frames were scoreless, but the drought was broken in the home half of the third canto, beginning with Delmonico’s base hit to right field. Left fielder Conor Welton sacrificed him over to second, and third baseman Curt Powell moved him over to third with a single, setting the stage for shortstop Kyle Farmer to plate two with a double.
The Georgia edge went from two runs to four in the ensuing inning, which second baseman Levi Hyams began by dropping a base hit into right field. Center fielder Peter Verdin followed that up with a single of his own, and first baseman Jonathan Hester sacrificed both baserunners over into scoring position. Delmonico drove in one with a base hit and Welton brought home the other with a sacrifice fly. South Carolina answered in the top of the fifth frame, using a one-out single, a Bulldog error, and a two-out double to bring home an unearned run.
The Classic City Canines got it back in the bottom of the canto when designated hitter Brett DeLoach drew a two-out walk and came the rest of the way around on consecutive base hits by Hyams and Verdin. The Athenians maintained their 5-1 advantage through the end of eight stanzas before the Gamecocks tied it up in the top of the ninth inning on a single, a hit batsman, an intentional walk, an inadvertent walk, two doubles, a passed ball, and a wild pitch.
Georgia stranded a baserunner on third in the home half of the frame, so the contest proceeded to extra innings. South Carolina went three up and three down in the top of the tenth, then Verdin got the bottom of the canto underway with a single and a stolen base. First baseman Colby May grounded out to move him over to third, then Delmonico brought him home with a base hit.
The win was a big one for the Diamond Dogs, who outhit the visitors (14-9) yet stranded ten, conceded an unearned run, and gave up a big inning in a typical attempt to squander a solid pitching performance by the starter. Nevertheless, the Red and Black found the will to win, improving to 2-1 in extra innings and 9-7 in one-run games, evening their conference record at 13-13, and setting up a critical Sunday rubber match against the red-hot two-time defending national champions. If Georgia can hang toe-to-toe with a ball club of South Carolina’s caliber, the Classic City Canines can play with anyone in the country.