After winning the series opener against Auburn on Friday, the Diamond Dogs arrived at Foley Field hoping to clinch a series victory over the Tigers on Saturday. This they did, notching the season’s first extra-inning victory and improving to 8-7 in one-run games as Georgia defeated Auburn, 6-5, in bonus cantos.
Following a scoreless first frame, each team plated one run in the second stanza. The Plainsmen did it with one swing of the bat on a one-out solo home run, whereas the Bulldogs generated their run 90 feet at a time, loading the bases on three straight singles and pushing one across the plate on a fielder’s choice.
Auburn took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth frame, thanks to a leadoff single, a stolen base, a Georgia error, and an RBI groundout. The Red and Black tied it up in the home half of the inning with a one-out walk, a two-out single, and a run-scoring wild pitch. A pair of base hits with a single sandwiched between them enabled the Tigers to move out in front, 3-2, in the fifth inning, but the Bulldogs’ attempt to answer in their turn at bat saw shortstop Kyle Farmer thrown out at home.
Accordingly, the Orange and Blue were able to take a two-run lead off of a leadoff homer to start the sixth stanza, only to see the Classic City Canines snarl the score once more in the bottom of the seventh canto. Left fielder Conor Welton drew a walk to start the proceedings, Farmer’s one-out double pulled the Athenians to within one, and designated hitter Brett DeLoach’s two-out double made the score 4-4.
There matters still stood when Welton was stranded on second in the bottom of the ninth inning, necessitating first a scoreless tenth frame, then an eventful eleventh stanza. In the top of the canto, the Plainsmen used three hits to generate one run, putting the visitors back in the lead. The Diamond Dogs did not go gentle into that good night, immediately putting the tying run aboard when first baseman Jonathan Hester drew a leadoff walk.
A groundout by pinch hitter Nelson Ward and a single by Welton put runners at the corners, and, when third baseman Curt Powell reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second on an Auburn error, Hester came home to make it 5-5. Farmer thereafter belted a two-out single into center field to bring home the unearned run that gave Georgia a one-run extra-inning victory.
The Georgia pitching staff struck out ten while walking just two, and the bullpen combined for five innings in which the Red and Black hurlers conceded six hits and just one earned run. The Bulldog lineup, which neither hit a home run nor stole a base, nevertheless turned eleven hits and four walks into six runs, led by Farmer (3 for 6, 2 RBI) and Welton (2 for 3, 1 RBI, 2 BB).
The Classic City Canines needed this win. Georgia, which never led prior to the final at-bat, secured the SEC series triumph with the victory on Saturday that improved the Red and Black’s conference ledger to 11-12. With seven league games remaining, the Athenians will need to go 5-2 in weekend action the rest of the way to finish the regular season with a winning record against SEC competition. With series remaining at home against two-time defending national champion South Carolina and on the road against Alabama, the odds of completing such a successful stretch run are long. The Diamond Dogs desperately needed to sweep the Tigers, and they head into Sunday with a chance to do just that.