Tuesday should have been a banner day for the Diamond Dogs. The Red and Black came into their game with Winthrop sporting a seven-game winning streak, a league-leading 9-3 record in S.E.C. play, and a No. 14 national ranking. Both Gordon Beckham and Joshua Fields were starting to get their due. In light of all of that, how the heck did Georgia lose to the Eagles?
It wasn't Red and Black miscues . . . each team was charged with one error. It wasn't an inability to get on base . . . Georgia and Winthrop tallied seven hits apiece while drawing one walk per side. It was the Bulldogs' old enemy, the dreaded men left on base. The Classic City Canines stranded seven baserunners, while the visitors left but three. Here is how it went down for the defeated Diamond Dogs:
The starting assignment went to Justin Grimm, who retired the side in order to start the initial inning. The Red and Black also went three up and three down in the bottom of the first canto. The trouble began in the top of the second stanza, when Billy Froehlich drew a leadoff walk.
Although Eddie Rohan went down swinging, a base hit by Tony Brunetti moved the Eagle right fielder over to third, enabling Bryn Henderson to score Froehlich with a double. Following a John Murrian foulout, Bennett Jordan's single to short plated the Winthrop left fielder to make it 2-0. Aaron Bonomi flied out to conclude the frame.
This is bad.
The only Classic City Canine to reach base in the home half of the inning was Matt Cerione, who was hit by a pitch after Rich Poythress and Bryce Massanari each flied out to begin the stanza. After the Red and Black center fielder stole second, Joey Lewis grounded out to strand the first Georgia baserunner of the afternoon in scoring position.
Winthrop went back on the attack in the visitors' half of the third canto in spite of Eddie Tisdale's leadoff strikeout. Kevin Nolan doubled to right field and took third base when Froehlich was thrown out at first in the ensuing at-bat. A wild pitch brought the Eagle shortstop home. A Rohan single and a Brunetti home run to right field gave the guests a 5-0 advantage by the time Henderson grounded out to wrap up the proceedings.
Georgia finally started to get something going in the bottom of the third frame. Adam Fuller reached base on a Nolan error and advanced to second on a wild pitch after Michael Demperio flied out to right field. A Ryan Peisel groundout moved the Bulldog left fielder to third and a Matt Olson base hit brought home an unearned run. Beckham thereafter grounded out . . . and, at that point, the contest essentially ended.
Steve Esmonde took the mound in the top of the fourth frame and did not allow any of the three batters he faced to reach first base. The Diamond Dogs went quietly in the home half of the canto on a flyout, a groundout, and a strikeout. No player for either team made it out of the batter's box in the fifth stanza.
This is really bad.
All either team had to show for the sixth inning was a two-out base hit by Beckham in the bottom of the canto, but Poythress flied out to leave the Georgia shortstop on first base. A Poythress error allowed Bonomi to reach base and advance to second in the top of the seventh frame, but the Eagles already had two outs against them, so a Tisdale groundout stranded the Winthrop second baseman in scoring position.
The Red and Black made an effort to mount a comeback in the home half of the canto. Massanari led off with a single and Jake Crane followed that with a base hit of his own. After a Lewis pop-up, Fuller hit into the fielder's choice that ended the Georgia designated hitter's time on the basepaths. Demperio's ensuing single loaded the bases, but when Lyle Allen tried for home as the pinch runner for Crane, he was thrown out by Froehlich.
At that point, it hardly mattered that the visitors went in order in the top of the eighth inning, but still the Red and Black attempted to get something going offensively. The bottom of the frame featured a one-out base hit by Olson, followed by a Beckham single to move the Bulldog right fielder to second base. Poythress then grounded into a stanza-stopping double play, though.
While Will Harvil gave up a one-out single to Henderson in the top of the ninth canto, the Eagle third baseman was caught stealing and Murrian popped up to bring the Diamond Dogs up to bat for the last time. The home half of the final frame was without much in the way of drama, as Massanari grounded out, Allen grounded out, Lewis walked, and Fuller flied out to strand the final Georgia baserunner of the afternoon.
That was very bad.
Justin Grimm had an outing befitting his surname. In three innings' worth of work, the Red and Black starter faced 16 batters, gave up six hits and one walk, and allowed five earned runs. No small measure of encouragement may be drawn, however, from the fact that the Bulldog bullpen surrendered one hit, no walks, and no runs in the final six stanzas.
The Eagles fairly well were controlled at the plate. Winthrop's leadoff hitter (Aaron Bonomi), cleanup hitter (Billy Froehlich), and designated hitter (John Murrian) between them went without a hit in eleven at-bats, drew one walk, and batted in no runs. The biggest bats swung by the visitors on Tuesday were those of Tony Brunetti (2 for 3, 2 R.B.I.) and Bryn Henderson (2 for 4, 1 R.B.I.), who hit sixth and seventh in the order, respectively.
Unfortunately, the Red and Black were similarly ineffectual in key spots in the lineup, as Georgia's leadoff hitter (Ryan Peisel), cleanup hitter (Rich Poythress), and designated hitter (Bryce Massanari) combined to go one for twelve with no R.B.I. and no walks. Even though Matt Olson and Gordon Beckham each went two for four, the run production was lacking from a Bulldog club that left men on first base in the third, sixth, and ninth innings, men on second base in the second and eighth innings, and men on first and second bases in the seventh inning.
Obviously, the loss does not hurt the Diamond Dogs in the all-important conference standings and the Red and Black will be able to erase setbacks of this sort with such stellar statistics as the Classic City Canines' 10-6 record against top 25 teams. Still, it stinks to lose to Winthrop, but Georgia had better set the loss aside and begin getting ready for tonight's contest against Georgia Tech.