Following Thursday evening's blowout loss, the Diamond Dogs climbed right back up on the horse again on Friday night, hoping this time not to be bucked from the bronco quite so unceremoniously. Nathan Moreau was on the mound for the Red and Black, but, before he had his opportunity to shine, his opposite number took the hill in the top of the first frame.
Arik Hempy began the initial inning by giving up a leadoff walk to Ryan Peisel, making the Georgia third baseman the first Bulldog in the series to have reached base in the first at-bat of a stanza by any means other than an error. Jonathan Wyatt's ensuing single to center field moved Peisel into scoring position and Gordon Beckham's base hit to left field brought him around to score.
Although Rich Poythress walked in the next at-bat to load the bases, each of the following three Red and Black batters recorded outs to leave three men aboard at the end of an inning that could have given the visitors much better than a 1-0 lead. This kept the Gamecocks in the game, allowing James Darnell's solo shot to right center field on an 0-2 pitch to tie the game, in spite of the fact that the other three South Carolina batters to have come to the plate in the bottom of the canto popped up, grounded out, and fouled out, respectively.
Travis Parrott walked on four straight pitches to begin the second inning and the combination of a Miles Starr bunt and a Hempy throwing error moved the Georgia left fielder to second base. A balk moved both baserunners over for Peisel, whose double to right center field plated a pair of runs and enabled the Classic City Canines to resume the lead.
Wyatt turned the first pitch he saw into a bunt single to put runners at the corners with no one out, but Beckham popped up and Poythress grounded into a double play to strand the Red and Black third baseman 90 feet away from building on the Diamond Dogs' 3-1 advantage.
The Palmetto State Poultry's efforts to overcome the deficit in the bottom of the frame proved fruitless, though not due to lack of effort on the home team's part. Trent Kline got the proceedings underway by putting Moreau's first pitch into left field for a double. After Andrew Crisp was hit by a pitch, Harley Lail strode to the plate with two men on and no outs, but he went down swinging.
South Carolina right fielder Andrew Crisp went hitless in four at-bats, which evidently is enough to get a children's breakfast cereal with no nutritional value whatsoever named after you.
Following a Steven Reinhold walk, the next two South Carolina batters struck out swinging with the bases loaded. Matt Olson drew a base on balls to start the next inning, marking the third straight canto in which the visitors opened the top of the frame with a leadoff walk. Matt Robbins put the next pitch into left field for the base hit that moved the Bulldog right fielder into scoring position. Joey Lewis put down a sacrifice bunt to advance both baserunners, but Parrott turned the first pitch thrown his way into a double-play ball with men at second and third with only one out away in the inning.
The Big Chickens needed no more invitation than that to begin fighting back. Darnell drew a walk to start the home half of the third stanza. Although Justin Smoak flied out in the ensuing at-bat, Phil Disher parked one over the wall in left center field to tie the contest. Kline did his best to give South Carolina the lead by punching a double into left center field, but, after Crisp popped up, the Gamecock catcher was caught stealing on his way to third base.
The first two Classic City Canines to step into the batter's box in the top of the fourth frame registered outs, but Wyatt undertook to get something going by belting out a base hit and taking second on a wild pitch. Beckham blasted a home run to left field to put the Diamond Dogs back out in front. When Poythress grounded out, the Red and Black had resumed a two-run lead.
Lail led off the home half of the frame with a base hit and Reinhold recorded a bunt single to put two men aboard for Reese Havens. The South Carolina shortstop reached on a fielder's choice, but the Gamecock left fielder was out at third base. Following a Travis Jones flyout, Darnell hit into the fielder's choice that put Reinhold out at third and ended the inning.
South Carolina shortstop Reese Havens went one for three, which wasn't bad, considering that a malicious teammate tricked him into showing up for the game dressed in a bunny costume.
Olson walked to start the top of the fifth frame and, when Robbins singled to left center field, the Georgia right fielder advanced to third base and the South Carolina pitcher was pulled from the game. Hempy had crossed paths with 24 batters and his final numbers included eight hits, five walks, and five earned runs.
Alex Farollo came on in his stead and his first pitch produced the groundout that scored Olson. The Gamecock reliever then threw the wild pitch that moved Robbins over to third and thereafter walked Parrott. Unfortunately, Starr swung at strike three and the Bulldog designated hitter was picked off at third base.
Smoak began the bottom of the inning with a bang, sending a solo shot to left center field to bring the Palmetto State Poultry within two runs of the visitors. Disher followed that up with the single that evened the hits at eight apiece. Although Kline hit into the fielder's choice that put the South Carolina designated hitter out at second base, the Gamecock catcher proceeded to take second on a wild pitch before Crisp went down swinging and Lail lined out to end the inning.
The Classic City Canines went in order in the top of the sixth stanza on a flyout, a lineout, and a strikeout. Justin Earls came on in relief of Moreau in the bottom of the frame after the Georgia starter had faced 25 batters, given up eight hits and two walks, but recorded as many strikeouts as he had allowed earned runs (four apiece). Earls began by getting Reinhold to ground out to short.
South Carolina center fielder Steven Reinhold went one for two and was appointed as a professor of astronomy at the University of Wittenberg by Philip Melanchthon.
Havens, however, knocked a base hit into right field and advanced to second on a passed ball. Jones flied out to record the second out of the inning, but Darnell was hit by a pitch to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. Fortunately, Smoak hit into the fielder's choice that ended the threat.
Neither squad produced a baserunner in the seventh canto, which consisted in its entirety of a flyout, a groundout, two lineouts, and a pair of strikeouts. The Red and Black went three up and three down in the top of the eighth frame, as well, before Adam McDaniel came on to pitch the bottom of the inning. The latest Georgia hurler got Lail to fly out and Robbie Grinestaff to ground out before walking Drew Martin, plunking Jones, and walking Darnell to load the bases.
The Diamond Dogs turned to Joshua Fields, who got Smoak to line out to preserve the visitors' 6-4 advantage. Following a groundout by Peisel, Wyatt and Beckham registered consecutive base hits in the top of the ninth stanza. Although this presented the Classic City Canines with the opportunity to add an insurance run, the next two Bulldog batters struck out to strand the baserunners.
Fields made short work of the Big Chickens in the home half of the final canto. Although the Georgia closer surrendered a base hit to Kline, he retired the other three batters he faced on a strikeout and a pair of flyouts to earn his seventh save of the season.
South Carolina catcher Trent Kline went three for five, which must have made his father, Robert, very proud, in spite of the young man's inability to spell the family name properly.
It could hardly be claimed that the Diamond Dogs made the most of the opportunities presented to them, as they left the bases loaded in the first inning and stranded additional baserunners in the second, third, fifth, and ninth frames. Nevertheless, Georgia matched the home team hit for hit, with each team tallying 10, and the visitors found a way to push more runs across the plate than their hosts.
The three batters at the top of the order for the Bulldogs (Ryan Peisel, Jonathan Wyatt, and Gordon Beckham) combined to go eight for 14 and bat in five runs, while the three batters at the top of the order for the Gamecocks (Travis Jones, James Darnell, and Justin Smoak) collectively went two for 11 with two R.B.I.
It was a good win over a quality opponent and, although the Red and Black have been without postseason prospects for some time now, it at least allows the Classic City Canines to have a shot at clinching the series victory with a win on Saturday.