Following a dominant win in Athens on Tuesday, the Diamond Dogs traveled to the Palmetto State on Wednesday for the second outing of their two-game set with out-of-conference rival Clemson. While the contest by Lake Hartwell was substantially more competitive than the initial showdown in the Classic City, the Red and Black took home the victory once again.
The top of the first inning began with a strikeout by Ryan Peisel and a flyout by Matt Olson before Gordon Beckham drew a base on balls. Rich Poythress drove a home run to left field and, just like that, the visitors led by a 2-0 margin. Bryce Massanari was caught looking when a called third strike sailed by for the final out of the frame.
The home half of the canto commenced with Justin Grimm on the hill for the Classic City Canines and the Bulldog hurler retired the side in succession. Although Lyle Allen led off the second stanza by reaching on a Mike Freeman fielding error, the Georgia left fielder was caught stealing just after Joey Lewis went down swinging and just before Adam Fuller grounded out to end the inning.
The bottom of the frame began auspiciously enough for the Red and Black, as Ben Paulsen and Kyle Parker both struck out, but Wilson Boyd drew a walk and advanced to second on a John Hinson single. Following the wild pitch that moved the runners over, Matt Sanders dropped a base hit into right center field to bring home a pair of runs. Although Alex Lee also walked, Freeman grounded out to keep the contest tied.
Clemson second baseman Mike Freeman went hitless in four at-bats and committed both Tiger errors on Wednesday night, but, under the leadership of the Muad'Dib, his people one day will come to rule Arrakis.
The Diamond Dogs went three up and three down in the top of the third canto, but the Tigers did not go nearly as quietly in the home half of the inning. After Jeff Schaus led off by flying out, Doug Hogan knocked a base hit through the left side, setting the stage for a Paulsen home run to afford Clemson a 4-2 advantage. The next two batters were sat down in sequence.
The Georgia offense remained largely anemic in the visitors' half of the fourth stanza. Massanari drew a two-out walk and advanced to second on a passed ball, but an Allen flyout stranded him there. Fortunately, Jason Leaver came on to pitch the bottom of the inning and no Tiger made it out of the batter's box.
Matters took a turn for the better in the top of the fifth frame. Lewis led off with a walk and Fuller followed with a home run to tie the contest once more. This marked the close of Trent Rothlin's time on the mound after the Clemson starter had tangled with 17 batters, surrendered three walks, conceded two hits (both of which were home runs), and allowed four earned runs.
The pitching responsibilities devolved upon Casey Harman, who permitted a Peisel double and a Beckham walk but secured the requisite three outs without giving up another run. Clemson sent three batters to the plate to face Steve Esmonde in the bottom of the frame but the Tigers failed to produce a baserunner.
Tiger reliever Casey Harman gave up five hits, two walks, and two earned runs to the 16 batters he faced, but the presence of the designated hitter spared the losing pitcher the ignominy of what would have been his inevitable strikeout.
The sixth stanza began with back-to-back groundouts before Lewis reached base when Freeman committed his second error of the evening by dropping a fly ball. Fuller threatened to make the Tigers pay for that miscue by returning a single up the middle, but Michael Demperio popped up to strand the go-ahead run at second base.
The home team likewise threatened to make some noise in the bottom of the canto when Paulsen led off with a single through the right side, but, following a Parker lineout, Boyd grounded into the inning-ending double play. Peisel led off the seventh frame with a strikeout, but Olson's ensuing single to left field evened the hits at five per side.
Beckham drew the base on balls that advanced the Bulldog right fielder to second and, after Poythress flied out, Massanari belted the single into left field that brought Olson home, giving the Diamond Dogs the lead in hits (6-5) and, more importantly, runs (5-4). Allen's subsequent single plated Beckham, as well.
Harman then hit the showers and was succeeded by Matt Vaughn, who secured the elusive third out from Lewis, but not before Georgia had posted its third two-run inning of the game to give the Red and Black the edge over Clemson, with its pair of two-run frames. Nick Montgomery became the fourth Bulldog hurler of the night in the bottom of the stanza and he retired all three of the batters he faced in the canto.
Georgia pitcher Nick Montgomery recorded two strikeouts and allowed neither a walk nor a hit, but the tensions he caused with George Patton over the invasion of Sicily were harmful to the Allied war effort.
No Diamond Dog made it as far as first base in the top of the eighth frame and Dean Weaver successfully shut down the Tigers in the home half of the inning, retiring the side on a Freeman flyout, a Schaus strikeout, and a Hogan groundout. The top of the final scheduled stanza was rather more interesting, commencing as it did with an Olson single up the middle.
Following consecutive flyouts by Beckham and Poythress, Massanari registered the base hit that advanced the Georgia right fielder to third. The insurance run Olson represented did not cross the plate, however, as Allen grounded out to bring the home team to the plate and Joshua Fields to the mound.
As had been the case in the second inning, Paulsen and Parker began the proceedings with back-to-back strikeouts and Boyd thereafter drew a walk. The Clemson center fielder later advanced into scoring position, albeit only to increase the dramatic tension before Hinson popped up to end an outing in which the Georgia pitching staff struck out twelve and walked three.
The Diamond Dogs out-hit the Tigers by a 9-5 margin, played errorless baseball, and profited from two-R.B.I. days by Adam Fuller (2 for 4) and Rich Poythress (1 for 5). Joshua Fields recorded his seventh save of the season and the Classic City Canines did not allow a run in the final six frames. It was a solid effort by a Red and Black squad that increasingly offers encouraging indications that the 2007-'08 school year may see Georgia racking up a Sugar Bowl win, an N.C.A.A. tournament bid, and a College World Series berth.