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Georgia Diamond Dogs 7, Kentucky Bat Cats 4

In the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader against Kentucky, the Diamond Dogs won by a final score of 7-4. In the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader against Kentucky, the Diamond Dogs won by a final score of 7-4. Is there an echo in here?

The Red and Black leapt out to an early lead in the visitors’ half of the opening canto, commencing with Peter Verdin’s leadoff single up the middle. Matt Cerione followed that up with a base hit of his own, and, after Rich Poythress popped up, Bryce Massanari reached on the fielding error by Chris Wade that allowed the Georgia right fielder to score an unearned run. Colby May lined into a double play in the ensuing at-bat, but the Classic City Canines had taken a 1-0 advantage.

Chris Bisson answered with a leadoff single in the bottom of the stanza and Wade put down the sacrifice bunt that advanced the Wildcat second baseman into scoring position. Gunner Glad turned Alex McRee’s next pitch into the groundout that moved Bisson over to third, but Chris McClendon grounded out to leave the baserunner where he stood.

Joey Lewis’s four-pitch walk to start the top of the second inning made him the only Bulldog batter not to register an out in the visitors’ turn at the plate, whereas the Bat Cats went three up and three down in their half of the frame. Poythress’s two-out single in the upper half of the third canto was erased when Massanari went down swinging in the ensuing at-bat.

Wildcat relief pitcher Braden Kapteyn worked two and one-third innings, notching four strikeouts while issuing one walk, allowing two hits, and conceding no runs. Despite that fine performance, though, I can’t possibly take him seriously, because his surname looks like the phonetic spelling of Ensign Chekhov’s pronunciation of Jim Kirk’s military rank.

Kentucky came to life---sort of---in the bottom of the frame, beginning with Marcus Nidiffer’s leadoff double down the left field line. Andy Burns drew a walk on a payoff pitch, then, after Bisson fouled out on a bunt attempt, McRee walked Wade on a quartet of throws to home plate. With three men now aboard, McRee walked in a run by issuing a free pass to Glad on a 3-2 count. McClendon lined out and Spencer Korus struck out to strand three and keep the score tied.

No runs crossed the plate in the fourth stanza, in which Miles Starr grounded into the double play that nullified consecutive one-out singles from the bats of Lewis and Lyle Allen in the top of the inning and a Bisson groundout cancelled out a leadoff walk by Troy Frazier and a two-out single by Burns in the bottom of the canto. No batter for either team reached first base in the fifth frame.

Georgia broke the deadlock at the outset of the sixth inning, which Poythress led off with a home run to right center field. Massanari followed that up with a base hit, and, after the next two Bulldog batters carded outs, Allen sent a single to short. Each runner swiped the next available base to set the stage for Starr to knock a single through the left side to score a pair of runs and stake the Red and Black to a 4-1 advantage on the strength of a four-hit, three-run canto.

The Wildcats responded in the home half of the stanza, in which Frazier drew a one-out walk and Keenan Wiley got aboard by being plunked. Nidiffer’s ensuing single plated Frazier and marked the end of the line for McRee. His successor on the hill, Jeff Walters, induced Burns to ground into a double play to keep the score 4-2.

Kentucky shortstop Chris Wade notched only one hit in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, but he probably was distracted by the fear that the U.S. Supreme Court would overturn the result in his historic case against Cal Lutheran pitcher Mike Roe before President Barack Obama got the chance to make an appointment to the high court.

Once two outs were away in the top of the seventh frame, Poythress and Massanari notched successive singles and May walked on four pitches to force a pitching change and load the bases for Lewis, whose ensuing base hit scored two. A subsequent single by Allen brought May the rest of the way around to produce a four-hit, three-run inning that staked the Diamond Dogs to a 7-2 lead.

Kentucky answered with a similar turn at the plate in the home half of the stanza. A one-out single by Wade was followed by a Glad single and a McClendon walk, allowing Korus to send a sacrifice fly into right field to tack on a run before Frazier lined out to prevent additional scoring. Verdin’s one-out walk and stolen base in the top of the eighth canto went for nothing when the next two Georgia batters registered strikeouts.

Justin Earls took over in the bottom of the eighth inning with one man out and two men on, and he proceeded to give up a bases-loading single to Bisson, a run-scoring sacrifice fly to Wade, and a walk to Glad before persuading McClendon to hit into a fielder’s choice. With the score now 7-4, the Classic City Canines generated no baserunners in the top of the final frame and Michael Palazzone struck out each of the three would-be hitters he faced in the home half of the stanza.

It’s hard to complain about back-to-back 7-4 victories, particularly when the second triumph was one in which the Diamond Dogs out-hit the Bat Cats (13-8) and the Red and Black played errorless baseball. Georgia got good production at the plate from Lyle Allen (3 for 4, 1 R.B.I.), Joey Lewis (2 for 4, 2 R.B.I.), Bryce Massanari (2 for 5), and Rich Poythress (3 for 5, 1 R.I.W.W.B.). I agree with Quinton McDawg that this is a series the Athenians need to sweep, so there’s nowhere I’d rather be than 2-0 with Sunday’s game upcoming.

Go ‘Dawgs!