While MaconDawg contemplates the future, I am focused on the past: Georgia handed Florida State its first loss of the season in a baseball game that spanned parts of two days, necessitating that the Diamond Dogs' second and final series meeting with the Seminoles follow hard on the heels of what was meant to be Tuesday's outing and became instead the first showdown of a Wednesday doubleheader.
Neither team accomplished much in the early going. In the first frame, Gordon Beckham drew a walk but was picked off, making him the only baserunner for either squad in the initial inning. Both opponents went in order in the second stanza.
The Red and Black finally broke through in the third canto. After Joshua Fields turned the first pitch he saw into a flyout and Adam Fuller grounded out, Matt Cerione and Ryan Peisel registered back-to-back doubles to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. Florida State appeared on the verge of answering in the bottom of the inning, when consecutive one-out walks drawn by Mike McGee and Stuart Tapley put the Georgia lead in jeopardy before Tyler Holt grounded into the double play that ended the threat.
Thanks partly to the throwing error that put Beckham on second base to begin the top of the canto, the Diamond Dogs built on their lead in the fourth frame. A Rich Poythress single through the right side plated the Bulldog shortstop, but the Red and Black first baseman was caught stealing and, despite a Matt Olson base hit later in the inning, no further scoring occurred.
Florida State finally had an answer in the bottom of the stanza, starting when Jason Stidham was plunked. Buster Posey got ahead in the count 3-1 and fouled off a pair of pitches until ball four was thrown his way and a throwing error by Joey Lewis sent the F.S.U. second baseman to third. From there, a Jack Rye sacrifice fly made it a 2-1 game.
All right, so Buster Posey is great at the plate. He still has the same first name as this bozo.
The Seminoles continued to threaten, as Tony Delmonico drew a walk and Ruairi O'Connor was hit by a pitch after a Dennis Guinn flyout. This loaded the bases for McGee, who flied out to end the inning. A two-out walk by Peisel went for naught in the top of the fifth canto.
The home half of the frame commenced with a pitching change, as Stephen Ochs came on in relief of Justin Grimm. In four innings' worth of work, the Georgia starter gave up four walks and struck a pair of batsmen, but he allowed no hits and surrendered only one earned run. A start that solid by a Bulldog pitcher can only be cause for concern whenever the bullpen is called in, but Ochs acquitted himself adequately in two innings on the mound, striking out four while permitting three hits and one earned run.
The first two F.S.U. batters faced by the Red and Black reliever in the home half of the canto went down swinging. Stidham then put down a bunt single and took second base on a wild pitch. Posey had another exceptional at-bat, fouling off five pitches before getting one he liked and registering a single. The Seminole catcher was put out trying to take second, but not before Stidham came around to score and tie the game.
After a sixth stanza in which a Guinn double produced the lone baserunner for either team, Olson began the seventh frame with the leadoff double that chased Bo O'Dell from the mound after the Seminole starter had allowed five hits, two bases on balls, and a pair of earned runs to the 24 batters who had crossed his path. On came Jimmy Marshall, who coaxed Fields into the groundout that moved Olson to third base.
A base hit by Lyle Allen scored the Georgia right fielder. Although Peisel drew a walk, groundouts by Cerione and Michael Demperio stymied the Diamond Dogs' attempt to plate additional runs. Even so, the visitors held a 3-2 advantage. This, alas, did not hold up once Stephen Brock was sent to the mound to pitch the bottom of the seventh inning.
We'd have been better off with Stephen Colbert.
Brock's third and fourth throws to home plate hit Tommy Oravetz and Tapley, respectively. Brock's sixth throw to home plate resulted in an unsuccessful attempt by Holt to sacrifice the runners over; the F.S.U. center fielder's sacrifice attempt was unsuccessful because Holt reached first and advanced to second as a result of a Brock throwing error. Also as a result of that miscue from the mound, Oravetz scored.
At this point, Brock had plunked two batters, allowed three baserunners, committed one error, surrendered one run, and thrown one strike. To this dubious record of achievement he proceeded to add the wild pitch that brought Tapley home and gave Florida State the lead. Brock finally contributed something useful to the Diamond Dogs' cause by striking out Stidham.
For understandable reasons, Posey was walked intentionally, but, when Rye went down swinging, the Seminole catcher stole second base. Delmonico was walked---in this instance, quite unintentionally---and Guinn proceeded to put the first pitch thrown his way into play, producing the base hit that scored two more F.S.U. runs. O'Connor finally flied out to end the disastrous inning.
Poythress and Lewis belted back-to-back base hits in the top of the eighth frame, but groundouts by Beckham, Olson, and Bryce Massanari prevented either Bulldog baserunner from advancing beyond third base. Ryan Woolley took over the hurling duties in the bottom of the stanza and he promptly surrendered, in succession, a double to Oravetz, a home run to Tapley, and a base on balls to Holt.
Steve Esmonde was called in at this juncture and he got his time on the mound underway by conceding a base hit to Stidham. Posey, of all people, recorded the first out of the inning when he went down swinging, then Rye grounded into the double play that concluded the two-run, three-hit inning for the home team.
Seriously, this is all about how these people want revenge on us for hiring Mark Richt. For crying out loud, this has-been ex-girl's school wants to be us so badly, they're declaring blackouts against Duke!
To their credit, the Diamond Dogs did not go down without a fight, in spite of the fact that they had seen a 3-2 lead at the midpoint of the seventh inning transformed into an 8-3 deficit by the end of the eighth. After Allen watched a called third strike sail by, Cerione punched a single into left field. Peisel flied out, but Demperio kept hope alive with a base hit through the left side. Beckham thereafter hit into a fielder's choice to end the game, stranding two of the nine men Georgia would leave on base over the course of the contest.
At the top of the order, Ryan Peisel went one for three with an R.B.I. and a pair of walks. Matt Cerione, Matt Olson, and Rich Poythress all went two for four. Joshua Fields went without a hit, a walk, an R.B.I., or a run in three at-bats as the Classic City Canines' designated hitter.
Amazingly enough, the Seminoles, on the whole, did not fare dramatically better at the plate than did their guests. Florida State's leadoff hitter (Tyler Holt), cleanup hitter (Jack Rye), and starting designated hitter (Mike McGee) combined to go without a hit, and collectively were held to one R.B.I., in eight cumulative at-bats. Even the extremely effective Buster Posey went one for three and batted in a lone run while being issued a pair of walks.
The lesson was, as it so often is, that bad relief pitching will absolutely obliterate a team's chances of winning a baseball game. Between them, Justin Grimm and Stephen Ochs faced 25 batters, notched five strikeouts, permitted three hits, and gave up just two runs, earned or otherwise. Thereafter, Stephen Brock, Ryan Woolley, and Steve Esmonde together encountered 15 opposing hitters, conceded four hits and three walks, and surrendered half a dozen runs.
The Red and Black continue to languish at .500, having dropped to 6-6 with Wednesday's late loss to the Seminoles. Although there is some solace to be taken in the fact that eight of Georgia's games, and half of the Diamond Dogs' wins, have been against ranked opponents, the schedule does not get any easier with S.E.C. play set to begin tomorrow.
Unless the Classic City Canines can find a way to produce more pitching of the quality of Joshua Fields's performance on the mound and generate more hitting more impressive than Fields's performance at the plate, David Perno's squad could be staring at another long season.