The one redeeming feature of Friday night’s disaster against Louisiana State was the fact that the Diamond Dogs finished strong in the late innings, because, otherwise, it was an utter tail-whipping. Saturday afternoon’s effort was a mirror image of the previous evening’s game, as the Classic City Canines dominated their guests and the Pelican State Panthers made it appear closer than it really was with a futile surge in the final two frames.
Alex McRee drew the starting assignment for Georgia and he induced Nicholas Pontiff to ground out in the initial at-bat of the first stanza. Jared Mitchell hammered a home run to center field in the ensuing plate appearance to give the Fighting Tigers a 1-0 edge and Blake Dean singled thereafter. Sean Ochinko and D.J. LeMahieu each reached on a fielder’s choice to conclude the canto.
Already trailing in the bottom of the earliest inning, the Red and Black came up to the plate with an answer at the ready. Matt Cerione led off with a base hit and, once Zach Cone had gone down swinging, Rich Poythress singled to put runners at first and third. A Bryce Massanari home run brought three men across the plate and another run was generated when Lyle Allen walked, Joey Lewis doubled to advance him to third, and Colby May brought him home on a sacrifice fly. Levi Hyams grounded out to end a four-hit, four-run frame for the home team.
Mikie Mahtook sent a two-out single into center field in the upper half of the second canto and took second on an error by McRee before being thrown out at home. The Diamond Dogs recorded only a lineout, a groundout, and a pop-up in the bottom of the stanza. Tyler Hanover led off the top of the third frame with a single up the middle. Pontiff followed with another single and Mitchell walked to load the bases.
Louisiana State leadoff hitter Nicholas Pontiff went one for four with a strikeout but neither an R.B.I. nor a walk, which raised serious theological questions about the validity of the doctrine of papal infallibility.
With trouble brewing, McRee persuaded Dean to foul out and Mitchell was picked off at first base. This opened a base for Ochinko to take on a walk, and, after a passed ball plated an unearned run, LeMahieu grounded out to end the inning.
Poythress responded with a leadoff single in the home half of the canto, after which Massanari notched a base hit, as well. Although the Georgia first baseman was caught stealing and Allen struck out, Lewis scored one run with a double and May scored another with a single. Hyams tacked on another base hit before Michael Demperio struck out to conclude a five-hit, two-run frame for the home team.
After a leadoff home run by Micah Gibbs opened the top of the fourth stanza, the next three Bayou Bengals lined out, flied out, and grounded out, respectively, and the Red and Black carded only a trio of strikeouts in the lower half of the inning. Dean’s two-out walk was all L.S.U. had to show for the visitors’ half of the fifth canto.
In the bottom of the inning, Chase Davidson dropped a one-out single into left field. Lewis’s ensuing base hit moved him over to third and Davidson scored when May reached on a fielder’s choice. Hyams grounded out to conclude the canto.
Tiger third baseman Tyler Hanover went two for four and drove in a run, which made the English people a lot more forgiving of the fact that his family took over the monarchy after the end of the Stuart line despite the inability of his people to speak any language other than German.
LeMahieu got the top of the sixth stanza underway with a leadoff double, but, even though Ryan Schimpf subsequently was hit by a pitch, a groundout and a pair of strikeouts stranded both baserunners. In the bottom of the inning, however, Cerione belted a one-out double and Johnathan Taylor sacrificed him over to third. Poythress’s ensuing double added another run before Davidson grounded out to close out the home team’s turn at the plate.
Michael Palazzone was on the hill for the upper half of the seventh canto and he struck out the first two batters he faced before walking Dean. Ochinko flied out in the next at-bat to erase this baserunner. May notched a one-out double in the bottom of the frame and Hyams brought him home with another double. A Demperio single put runners at the corners for Cerione, whose sacrifice fly scored another run before Demperio was picked off.
LeMahieu and Gibbs began the top of the eighth inning with back-to-back singles. A wild pitch advanced both baserunners following a Schimpf flyout and Mahtook scored a run on a groundout. A Hanover single plated another and, after Leon Landry sent a single to right field, a wild pitch brought home the third run of the frame. Mitchell went down swinging to prevent further damage.
A pair of two-out singles by Massanari and Peter Verdin in the bottom of the canto came to naught when Lewis struck out swinging, so it all came down to the top of the ninth frame. Dean Weaver came on to pitch and he secured the first out from Dean before surrendering a single to Ochinko.
L.S.U. second baseman Ryan Schimpf managed only one hit on Saturday, which helps explain why he’s the least popular of the Stooges.
An error by Weaver allowed LeMahieu to reach base, which enabled Gibbs to bring home an unearned run on a groundout. A Schimpf double scored another unearned run before Mahtook popped up to close out the contest.
The fact that the Bayou Bengals notched six hits and five runs in the last two stanzas should not distract you from the truth any more than the Diamond Dogs’ six hits and four runs in the final two frames last night; this was a whipping. Georgia leapt out to a 4-1 lead after one inning, maintained its three-run lead through four cantos, and pulled away in the next three innings to carry a 10-3 lead into the eighth frame. It had the feel of a shootout, but it was never in doubt . . . much like a certain other Georgia-L.S.U. game I could name.
Bulldog starter Alex McRee outlasted his Tiger counterpart, allowing two earned runs off of seven hits in six stanzas while the Bayou Bengals’ Austin Ross surrendered nine hits and six earned runs in just three innings. The Red and Black out-hit the visitors (18-13) and did not give up more than one run in any canto before the eighth, despite a pair of errors.
Matt Cerione went two for four with an R.B.I. from the leadoff spot and the Classic City Canines were able to rely upon Levi Hyams (2 for 4, 1 R.B.I.), Joey Lewis (3 for 5, 1 R.B.I.), Bryce Massanari (3 for 4, 3 R.B.I.), Colby May (2 for 3, 3 R.B.I.), and Rich Poythress (3 for 5, 1 R.B.I.) one day after Friday’s power outage. Georgia needed a game like this one after the one that preceded it. It is to the credit of David Perno and his team that, when they had to get it done, they got it done---in a much bigger way than the final score suggests, in fact---to set up a rubber game at noon on Sunday.