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Oregon State 6, Georgia 2

The Diamond Dogs got off to a rocky start this weekend, dropping the season's first two games to Oregon State on Friday and Saturday, but they had a final shot at redemption on Sunday afternoon.

Stephen Dodson was on the mound for the Red and Black and his efforts initially were promising, as he retired the first three batters he faced. The Bulldogs likewise went in short order in the bottom of the outing's first inning.

Dodson allowed a pair of base hits in the top of the second frame, but no Beaver advanced farther than second base. Other than a Luke Stewart walk, Georgia had nothing to show for itself in the second half of the inning, either.

To the third stanza the contest went with the score deadlocked at zero. Joey Wong opened the action with a single to left field, then the Oregon State second baseman advanced to third on an error that put Darwin Barney aboard. Another error on the ensuing play permitted Wong to score an unearned run. A Mike Lissman groundout likewise brought the Beaver shortstop home, as well.

Joey Wong went two for four and scored a pair of runs, which helps to explain why Oregon State fans share the sentiment best articulated by Barbara Mandrell: "If loving Joey is Wong, I don't want to be right."

Down 2-0, the Diamond Dogs went to work in the bottom of the inning, commencing with a base hit bunt by Blake Cannady, followed by a stolen base and a sacrifice that placed him on third base. A sacrifice fly by Jonathan Wyatt scored Cannady, cutting the Beavers' lead to 2-1 heading into the fourth frame.

O.S.U. managed a pair of base hits in the top of the inning, but neither Beaver baserunner succeeded in crossing home plate. This opened the door for Georgia in the Bulldogs' next turn at bat, and the Red and Black took advantage of their opportunity. Gordon Beckham led off with a walk and Joey Lewis took first base after being hit by a pitch. Although Ryan Peisel subsequently grounded into a double play, the Georgia shortstop reached third base, allowing Stewart to bring him home with a double to right field that tied the game.

The fifth and sixth innings passed largely without incident. Alex McRee came on to pitch for Dodson, who had surrendered five hits and two unearned runs while facing 19 batters in four innings of work. The Georgia starter had struck out three and walked none.

McRee spent two innings on the mound, walking Lissman and giving up a base hit to Mitch Canham, but otherwise keeping the Beavers contained. In the fifth frame, the Diamond Dogs got a baserunner as far as third base, but, otherwise, the Red and Black did little in the bottom of either inning. Then came the seventh stanza.

Seven can be a very unlucky number.

Trevor Holder took over the hurling duties from McRee and promptly surrendered a single to Wong. Barney flied out to right field, but John Wallace then dropped a base hit into center field to move the Oregon State second baseman to his customary position. Lissman popped up to get the Red and Black within one out of ending the threat, but Canham put one out to right field, breaking the logjam and giving the Beavers a 5-2 advantage.

For this the Bulldogs had no answer, as a Stewart single in the second half of the seventh came to naught and the eighth began with a Koa Kahalehoe double. The Beaver right fielder later came around to score, at which point Holder was yanked . . . but the damage had been done.

The Diamond Dogs did not go quietly, as Wyatt and Lewis each recorded base hits in the bottom of the inning, but the Red and Black were unable to put any additional runs on the scoreboard. The ninth inning passed uneventfully, with neither team achieving anything more dramatic than a base on balls, and the game ended with the visitors holding a four-run advantage.

Sunday's storyline was a familiar one for the Bulldogs, whose relief pitching allowed a late-inning eruption by the opposing squad. Oregon State outhit Georgia, 11-6, and the Diamond Dogs committed a trio of errors. Cannady and Stewart each went two for three at the plate, but the four earned runs allowed by Holder on five hits were too much for the team to overcome.

The 2007 baseball season is off to a discouraging start, to say the very least. The Diamond Dogs will have time to lick their wounds and cure their ills before their next game, though. Georgia will be in action again against Mercer in Macon on February 21.

Go 'Dawgs!