Two-time S.E.C. player of the week Gordon Beckham and his fellow Diamond Dogs resumed their series with Kennesaw State on Tuesday. The Red and Black's history with the Owls includes two wins during the Classic City Canines' 2006 hot streak and a deflating loss during Georgia's 2007 tailspin, so there was reason to believe the two-game midweek set with K.S.U. would offer a meaningful glimpse of the potential David Perno's 2008 team possesses. Accordingly, the Red and Black's 12-5 road win over Kennesaw State was an encouraging sign.
Ryan Peisel led off the top of the initial inning by drawing a walk from Justin Edwards and taking second base on a passed ball. He made it as far as third on a Beckham groundout, but the rest of the Red and Black batters in the inaugural canto registered outs, as well, so Peisel was stranded 90 feet from home plate when the Owls came up to bat.
(In response to the opposing team's choice of mascot, insert obligatory "Owls are not what they seem" reference here.)
Jason Leaver got the start for the Classic City Canines and he began the bottom of the frame by walking Jacob Robbins. The Kennesaw State second baseman shortly thereafter was caught stealing and the next two K.S.U. batters recorded outs to conclude a scoreless first stanza. The contest did not remain scoreless for long, however, as Matt Olson opened the top of the second inning with a home run to right field to give the visiting Bulldogs a 1-0 advantage.
After Joey Lewis flied out, Bryce Massanari and Lyle Allen belted back-to-back base hits and a balk advanced both baserunners. Matt Cerione's ensuing single plated a run, then, after the Georgia center fielder swiped second, a Peisel double brought home two more scores. Following the Michael Demperio groundout that advanced the Bulldog third baseman to his typical position, Beckham walked to put two men aboard and end Edwards's time on the mound.
After the Red and Black shortstop stole second, Bubba Blalock walked Rich Poythress, as well, and Olson's subsequent single to center field scored two more runs. A Lewis single brought Poythress home. There the scoring stopped, as Massanari reached on an error and Allen hit into a fielder's choice, but the Diamond Dogs had taken a commanding lead on a seven-run, seven-hit stanza.
Jay Morrow flied out to begin the home half of the second inning, but Josh Whitaker thereafter singled to center field and took second on a wild pitch after Drew Fowlkes went down swinging. Another wild pitch moved the Kennesaw State first baseman over to third before Jerome Wooley and Curtis Van Wyck walked to load the bases. A Tyler Stubblefield double plated three runs before Martin Baker popped up to conclude a frame in which the two teams between them tallied ten runs.
(In response to the name of the opposing team's catcher, insert obligatory Roger Moore reference here.)
The Diamond Dogs went in order in the top of the third canto and, in the home half of the inning, Morrow drew a base on balls from Will Harvil, stole second, and advanced to third on an error, but his teammates managed only outs to strand him on the basepaths. The Red and Black went three up and three down in the fourth frame and the only Owl not to register an out in the bottom of the stanza was hit by a pitch.
Lewis led off the fifth inning with a single to center field. Although Massanari hit into the fielder's choice that cut down the Georgia designated hitter, Allen was plunked to move the Bulldog catcher to second. A passed ball advanced both baserunners before Cerione drew the walk that put three men aboard for Peisel, who doubled in two runs.
A Demperio double scored two more before Beckham popped up and Olson flied out to wrap up a four-run, three-hit frame in which the Classic City Canines extended their lead to 11-3. A leadoff bunt single by Baker in the bottom of the inning amounted to nothing when the next three K.S.U. batters recorded a trio of outs in succession.
At the outset of the sixth stanza, Lewis reached on an error and advanced to second. Following a Massanari pop-up, Allen singled to center field to move Lewis to third and get Blalock sent to the showers. Kyle Clayton proceeded to strike out Cerione, but Peisel put a base hit into left field to score an unearned run. Demperio hit into a fielder's choice to end the inning.
I don't know about the home of the twelfth man, but the sixth frame saw Georgia bring home the twelfth run.
A one-out single off of Steve Esmonde by Wooley in the bottom of the canto was nullified when Van Wyck grounded into a double play. Base hits by Poythress and Olson in the visitors' half of the seventh stanza failed to produce any runs, even when the Bulldog baserunners both advanced on a double-steal, because their teammates managed only one out after another.
The home team began to mount a comeback in the bottom of the inning. Stubblefield led off with a double to right field and, after Bucky Smith flied out, Baker tacked on another double to score Stubblefield. Because an error allowed the Owl center fielder to take third, Ric Bishop tallied an R.B.I. despite being thrown out at first. Morrow flied out to keep the score 12-5.
Although Adam Fuller walked and David Thoms was plunked in the top of the eighth stanza, neither Diamond Dog came around to score. Justin Earls likewise hit Fowlkes, surrendered a single to Van Wyck, and allowed a runner to advance on a wild pitch, but the Owls were unable to bring a run home.
Georgia threatened to build on its lead in the top of the final frame when Poythress led off with a base hit and Lewis drew a one-out walk following an Olson foulout. After Jake Crane was plunked to load the bases, Allen flied out and Fuller struck out to strand the baserunners. Fortunately, Joshua Fields retired the side in the bottom of the inning, inducing a pop-up and two strikeouts on eight pitches, only one of which was called a ball.
Completely different kind of closer.
While it was far from a flawless game of baseball---Georgia committed a pair of errors; the Owls, three miscues---it was the sort of outing the Diamond Dogs expected and needed. The Classic City Canines substituted liberally, using five pitchers and a dozen position players, and, despite stranding a whopping fifteen baserunners (including three each in the second and ninth innings), the Red and Black scored a dozen runs on fifteen hits.
Ryan Peisel had an exceptional day from the leadoff spot, going three for four with a walk and batting in five runs. The Diamond Dogs also enjoyed multi-hit days from Rich Poythress (2 for 5), Matt Olson (3 for 6, 3 R.B.I.), Joey Lewis (2 for 5, 1 R.B.I.), and Lyle Allen (2 for 5). The same two teams will square off tomorrow at Foley Field.