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Georgia Diamond Dogs 12, Youngstown State Penguins 8

After posting victories in each of the season’s first two outings, the Diamond Dogs went for the series sweep over Youngstown State on Sunday and the Classic City Canines continued to perform well offensively in a 12-8 win over the Penguins.

The starting assignment went to Justin Grimm, who retired the Penguins in sequence in the visitors’ half of the first frame. The Red and Black proceeded to generate runs the old-fashioned way in the bottom of the inning, when Johnathan Taylor singled up the middle and stole second base, Michael Demperio walked, and Colby May grounded out to advance both baserunners. A wild pitch and an error allowed two runs to cross home plate.

Rich Poythress then parked a single in center field and took second base on a balk. After Bryce Massanari flied out, another wild pitch allowed the Bulldog first baseman to take third base, but the home team did not push another run across because Chase Davidson went down swinging after Joey Lewis walked.

Youngstown State once again went three up and three down in the second stanza, replicating Y.S.U.’s performance in the opening inning by notching a groundout and two strikeouts. The Diamond Dogs led off the bottom of the canto with a Peter Verdin bunt single and, after Levi Hyams fouled out, Taylor tallied his second single in as many at-bats. Demperio drew a base on balls to load the bases for May, whose sacrifice fly plated a run before Poythress ended the inning by hitting into a fielder’s choice.

At around this time, it was starting to look like the Penguins would pose a far less serious threat to the Diamond Dogs than their namesake supervillain did to Batman and Robin.

Two flyouts and a foulout were all the Penguins had to show for the top of the third stanza and the Red and Black went in order in the bottom of the canto, as well. The fourth frame was more of the same: Youngstown State carded two strikeouts and a groundout in the visitors’ turn at bat and the Diamond Dogs threatened when Hyams sent a one-out double into center field and Taylor singled to short.

After the Georgia leadoff man stole second to put two runners in scoring position, Demperio fouled out and May flied out to strand them both. No Y.S.U. batter reached first base in the top of the fifth frame, but Poythress reached on an error to start the home half of the inning. A Massanari double and a Lewis triple plated a pair of runs, but the next three Red and Black batters all registered outs.

The Classic City Canines carried a 5-0 lead into the sixth stanza, where the Penguins at last came to life in the top of the frame. Anthony Porter led off by striking out, but he reached first on a wild pitch, reached second on an error, and reached third on a balk, enabling David Leon to score him with a sacrifice fly. Consecutive singles by C.J. Morris and Jason Reitenbach put two men aboard and John Keohnlein sacrificed them over into scoring position.

Two more Bulldog errors allowed Tom Clayton and Jeremy Banks to reach base, permitted Morris and Reitenbach to score, and caused Steve Esmonde to be brought in from the bullpen. The Georgia reliever surrendered a double to Jacke Healey and a single to Eric Marzec, which together brought home three more runs. By the time Porter grounded out to end the inning, the four-hit, three-error frame had enabled Youngstown State to take a 6-5 edge over the home team.

It was at about this point that Lovelace stepped into the on-deck circle and informed the Foley Field crowd, "This is a bad day for you! Go back to the water! Go back to your mama!"

When the home team came up to bat in the bottom of the inning, the Diamond Dogs were trailing for the first time in 2009. Taylor did what leadoff men do, drawing a walk and taking second on a balk. A bunt single by Demperio advanced him to third and a wild pitch put two men in scoring position.

After May grounded out and Anthony Munoz came on to pitch for the Penguins, Poythress put one out in right field to reclaim the lead for the Red and Black. Massanari flied out in the next at-bat, but Lewis added a long ball of his own to make it 9-6 for the Classic City Canines before Davidson recorded the final out of the frame.

Although another Georgia error allowed Leon to lead off the seventh stanza by reaching base and Morris’s ensuing sacrifice put the Y.S.U. baserunner in scoring position, Leon was thrown out at third and Reitenbach grounded out to conclude a scoreless canto for the visitors. In the bottom of the frame, Lyle Allen and Hyams opened with back-to-back base hits, with both advancing on an error in the outfield.

Taylor sacrificed home a run and, after Demperio grounded out, a wild pitch allowed Hyams to come the rest of the way around, as well. May grounded out to make the score 11-6 after seven frames. The Penguins would not go away, however.

Well, they wouldn’t go away, except to the extent that they kept trying to tunnel to Antarctica from the visitors’ dugout.

After the first two Youngstown State batters in the top of the eighth stanza struck out, Greg Dissinger drew a walk and Healey, Marzec, and Porter all followed that up with base hits, the latter two of which combined to score another pair of Y.S.U. runs. Jeff Walters came on to pitch for the Red and Black and, after an error allowed Brian Solitario to reach base, Morris struck out with the bases loaded to keep the score 11-8 and leave the go-ahead run standing in the batter’s box.

The combination of consecutive doubles by Poythress and Massanari, coupled with a wild pitch, allowed Georgia to tack on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth frame. Although Reitenbach was plunked at the outset of the ninth inning, two of the last three Penguin batters struck out swinging to strand the final Youngstown State baserunner and clinch a series sweep for the Diamond Dogs.

Although the Red and Black allowed the visitors to remain in the game by committing five errors, the Classic City Canines closed the deal with a dozen runs on 15 hits, including four doubles, a triple, and a pair of home runs. Johnathan Taylor continued his blistering pace with two stolen bases, a walk, and three hits in a trio of at-bats. Rich Poythress, Bryce Massanari, and Joey Lewis together went seven for 14 with seven R.B.I. in the fourth, fifth, and sixth spots in the order.

While the Bulldogs’ miscues in the field skewed the statistics somewhat, Justin Grimm lasted nearly six innings, in which he struck out seven, surrendered two hits, and gave up neither a base on balls nor an earned run. I could have done without a two-stanza stretch during which the Georgia middle relievers conceded five hits and three earned runs, but that is about the only quarrel I have with the Diamond Dogs’ performance to this point. It’s only Youngstown State, but, so far, so good.

Go ‘Dawgs!