After Wednesday's win, I was cautiously optimistic. My emphasis on the adjective waxed, and on the adverb waned, following Friday's victory. The Diamond Dogs' series-clinching Saturday success continued to boost my faith in David Perno's squad, if only because the Red and Black's recent run of positive outcomes cannot help but boost the team's faith in its ability to contend once S.E.C. play begins next weekend.
Perpetuating what has become an encouraging pattern, the Classic City Canines took an early lead in the bottom of the first inning and built on it over the course of the contest rather than relinquishing it in the later frames. A Tiger error and a passed ball put Rich Poythress in a position to plate a pair of unearned runs with a base hit to left field to give the Diamond Dogs a 2-0 advantage.
Ryan Peisel batted in another run in the bottom of the second stanza and three more runs came across in the third canto due to a fortuitous combination of stolen bases, a balk, an error, and singles by Gordon Beckham, Matt Olson, Lyle Allen, and Matt Cerione. Back-to-back solo home runs by Beckham and Poythress in the bottom of the fourth frame put the home team out in front by an 8-0 margin.
Stephen Dodson gave Georgia a quality start on the mound, pitching six solid innings in which he surrendered neither a walk nor a run. The Bulldog hurler struck out almost as many of the 22 batters he faced (4) as he allowed hits (5). Neither Justin Grimm nor closer Joshua Fields gave up so much as a single hit.
It was only in the eighth inning, when reliever Justin Earls was on the mound, that any damage was done. Memphis shortstop Chad Zurcher began with a base hit and advanced to third on a groundout and a pickoff attempt that ended in an error. Successive walks by Trey Wiedman and Robby Graham loaded the bases for Adam McClain, whose single to left field put the Tigers on the board. Earls finished the day after facing seven batters and permitting two walks, two hits, and two earned runs.
Saturday's Georgia win was far from perfect, of course; the Diamond Dogs committed three errors in the field and failed to score a run after the fourth inning. At the top of the order, Ryan Peisel and Michael Demperio combined for two hits and one R.B.I. in eight at-bats, although these shortcomings were ameliorated considerably by the next two batters in the Red and Black lineup, as Gordon Beckham and Rich Poythress together went seven for ten and batted in four runs.
Nevertheless, the Classic City Canines' eight-run, twelve-hit performance brought their cumulative total for the last three games to 51 hits and 35 runs in a trio of victories. There is a great deal of baseball yet to be played, but, for now, the Red and Black are above .500 and on something resembling a roll heading into a Sunday afternoon outing in which they have a chance to sweep a series they already have won.