After dashing my hopes on Friday and partially redeeming themselves on Saturday, the Diamond Dogs entered into Sunday's series-settling showdown in Starkville with the opportunity to restore my confidence in, or to crush my optimism for, this baseball season. I will spare you the suspense by letting you know up front that the Red and Black escaped Polk-Dement Stadium with a 4-2 win.
The final game of Georgia's three-game series with Mississippi State got off to a good start when the visiting Bulldogs put up two runs in the top of the first inning this afternoon. The Red and Black carried a three-run lead into the bottom of the fourth frame and clung to a 3-2 advantage at the end of five before tacking on an insurance run in the seventh inning.
The Diamond Dogs got out of a potential jam in the bottom of the eighth, in which a two-out single by M.S.U.'s Joseph McCaskill followed by a walk drawn by McCaskill's teammate, Michael Rutledge, put Jeff Butts in a position to give the home team the lead. Instead, Butts flied out to center field to end the Mississippi State scoring threat.
A Joey Side single notwithstanding, the Red and Black went quietly in the top of the ninth, giving the maroon-clad home team the chance to pull out the win by scoring three runs before surrendering three outs.
The bottom half of the final frame began auspiciously for the visitors as Jeffrey Rea grounded out to short. Edward Easley then struck out swinging and M.S.U. was down to its final out. Thomas Berkery went with a whimper, not a bang, as he, too, struck out swinging to end the game.
Georgia outhit Mississippi State, 10-9, and the victorious Bulldogs clawed back toward respectability with a 21-10 overall ledger and a 5-7 conference mark.