The first game of Sunday's Dog-eat-Dog doubleheader between Georgia and Mississippi State got underway with Nathan Moreau on the mound for the Red and Black. The top of the initial inning commenced with a base hit to left field by Jeffrey Rea. Joseph McCaskill drew a walk in the ensuing at-bat, after which Edward Easley belted out an R.B.I. single . . . and, just like that, the visiting Bulldogs were up by a 1-0 margin.
Following this early offensive onslaught, the pitchers began to take control of the contest. Moreau persuaded the next three M.S.U. batters to pop up, fly out, and strike out, respectively, and the home team went three up and three down in the bottom of the frame. The top of the second stanza likewise passed swiftly, as the visitors managed only a lineout, a flyout, and a strikeout.
As noted by New World Sports, Pamela Anderson is a college baseball fan, but we're sticking with Kristin Davis as our good luck pinup because that's just the kind of class we strive for here at Dawg Sports.
The first, third, and fourth Georgia batters in the bottom of the second inning all grounded out, but Matt Olson managed to put a solo shot out to right field in the second at-bat of the Diamond Dogs' turn at the plate, tying the game at one run apiece. No Bulldog for either team reached base in the third canto, which consisted only of a trio of flyouts, a pair of groundouts, and a popup.
Although Mitch Moreland led off the top of the fourth frame with a base hit to left field, Brian LaNinfa immediately thereafter hit into the fielder's choice that cut down the M.S.U. first baseman at second. Connor Powers popped up and Nick Hardy stared at a called third strike to strand the Mississippi State designated hitter.
After Jonathan Wyatt began the bottom of the inning by striking out, Gordon Beckham followed that up with a double to center field. This put a man in scoring position with only one out, but a prime opportunity went to waste when Rich Poythress grounded out to advance the runner and Olson flied out to end the inning.
Moreau retired the side on a trio of groundouts in the top of the fifth canto. At that point, the Georgia starter had faced 19 batters, tallied a trio of strikeouts to offset the three hits he had surrendered, and given up only one walk and one run. Once Joey Lewis led off the home half of the inning with a groundout, Travis Parrott dropped a single into center field to even the box score at one run, three hits, and no errors for each bunch of Bulldogs.
A Jake Crane single to right field broke the deadlock in hits and gave the Classic City Canines another opportunity to break the tie in runs, as the Red and Black had a man in scoring position with only one out for the second consecutive inning. Mike Freeman's subsequent groundout moved the Georgia left fielder to third base and Ryan Peisel walked to load the bases for Wyatt, but the Diamond Dog center fielder went down swinging.
McCaskill led off the top of the sixth stanza with a single, restoring equilibrium at one run, four hits, and no errors per side. Fortunately, Easley flied out and Moreland grounded into a double play to prevent Mississippi State from going back out in front on the scoreboard.
The visiting Bulldogs committed the contest's first error in the bottom of the inning, when a miscue by Powers enabled Beckham to advance as far as second base. Poythress punched a single into right field to move the Red and Black shortstop over to third. With the go-ahead run now 90 feet from home plate and no one out, Olson watched as a called third strike sailed past him.
Lewis's ensuing single to left field plated an unearned run to give the home team the lead. Although the next two Classic City Canines went down swinging to send the contest to its final scheduled stanza, Georgia now held the advantage across the board, having committed no errors to M.S.U.'s one, collected six hits to the visitors' four, and scored two runs to Mississippi State's one.
Joey did such fine work on Sunday afternoon that I almost regret that his series was canceled. Almost.
Joshua Fields was brought on to close out the contest and he coaxed a flyout from LaNinfa to start the seventh inning. The Diamond Dog reliever must have enjoyed retiring the first batter he faced, because he liked it so much that he did it again in the next at-bat, convincing Powers to fly out to left field. Brandon Turner was brought in to pinch hit for Hardy and he struck out swinging to end the truncated game.
The Red and Black offense garnered only limited success, as no batter went better than one for three, the Classic City Canines drew only one walk while striking out five times, and the fourth and fifth frames offered opportunities for the home team to take the lead which went to waste.
Even so, though, Georgia had a more successful day at the plate than Mississippi State, as no batter after the first four players in the visiting Bulldogs' lineup was credited with so much as a single hit. M.S.U. was held scoreless in the final six stanzas and no member of the squad from Starkville made it as far as second base after the third at-bat of the first frame.
The Diamond Dogs should have accomplished more with the chances they were given in the later innings, but I will not quibble with a win in which the Georgia pitchers combined to allow four hits, one walk, and one run to the 25 batters who stood in against them. At this point, any win is a good win and the Red and Black scratched and clawed their way to victory over a quality opponent.