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The Diamond Dogs Are Done: Auburn Tigers 19, Georgia Bulldogs 3

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Auburn 0 0 0 7 0 5 3 1 3 19 15 2
Georgia 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 3 9 3

I tried to find some hope for the Diamond Dogs in Saturday’s narrow loss to Auburn. This was folly. The Georgia squad that was annihilated by the Plainsmen on Friday showed up again on Sunday, as the Red and Black absorbed a 19-3 drubbing from the Tigers.

A leadoff single by Zach Cone was all either team had to show for the first frame, but the second stanza got underway when Brian Fletcher doubled at the outset of the visitors’ half of the inning. A two-out Todd Hankins error allowed the Auburn designated hitter to reach third, but Justin Bryant watched a called third strike to squander the early opportunity.

The Diamond Dogs went in order in the bottom of the canto, as did the Plainsmen in the top of the third frame, so Georgia got on the board first in the home half of the inning. A Levi Hyams double and a Hankins single put runners at the corners, then, after the next two Bulldog batters recorded outs, a Casey McElroy error enabled two unearned runs to score. A single and a walk loaded the bases for Zach Taylor, who grounded out to keep the Classic City Canines’ lead at 2-0. It was all downhill from there.

It all began to unravel in the upper half of the fourth frame. The first three Auburn batters loaded the bases on a single, a double, and a walk. Tony Caldwell brought one run home on a sacrifice fly, Dan Gamache plated another on a fielder’s choice and a Hankins error, and bases on balls issued to the next two batters forced home a third. Justin Hargett sent a two-RBI single into right field and Hunter Morris sent a two-RBI single into left field. All told, the Tigers tallied seven runs on four Auburn hits and two Georgia errors.

The Bulldogs threatened to climb back into the contest in the bottom of the canto when Carson Schilling led off with a double, Hyams followed up with a single, and Hankins sacrificed them both into scoring position. The next two batters flied out to right field to strand both baserunners. Auburn wasted a one-out walk with a double-play ball in the top of the fifth inning.

After the Red and Black sent three straight flyouts into left field in the home half of the frame, the Plainsmen went back to work in the visitors’ half of the sixth stanza. A one-out single and consecutive walks loaded the bases for Morris, whose grand slam broke the game wide open. McElroy’s two-out walk and a pair of wild pitches put Caldwell in a position to score another run with a base hit.

Schilling delivered a solo home run in the bottom of the inning, but the Alabamians responded with a three-run shot by Morris in the top of the seventh canto. No Athenian reached base in the home half of the frame. The upper half of the eighth stanza saw Caldwell send a solo shot out to right field and Georgia’s only answer in the home half of the inning was a two-out single by Schilling.

The bloodletting continued in the ninth inning, when the Tigers turned four singles, a wild pitch, and a hit batsman into three runs. The Diamond Dogs went quietly in the bottom of the frame to complete the sweep. If anything, this effort was even more awful than Friday night’s debacle: Georgia committed as many errors as the Red and Black scored runs, and leadoff hitter Zach Cone, cleanup hitter Chase Davidson, and designated hitter Brett DeLoach combined to go two for eleven and did not bat in a run.

The Red and Black used six pitchers, each of whom gave up at least one earned run. Steve Esmonde and Alex McRee surrendered three apiece, with Jeff Walters and Cecil Tanner allowing five each. Hunter Morris had a career day against the Classic City Canines, going five for six with two home runs and nine RIWWB.

Bulldog batters belted an unlucky thirteen fly balls while Tiger hitters drew a dozen walks. Georgia was outscored 19-1 in the last six stanzas to cap off a dismal series in which Auburn scored in 15 of 27 total innings (including eleven multi-run frames) and the Classic City Canines were shut out 20 times in 27 cantos. In a weekend that featured two final baseball scores reminiscent of late-’80s football scores between teams coached by Vince Dooley and Pat Dye, the Diamond Dogs were outscored 43-9, were out-hit 46-23, and committed six errors.

On Sunday afternoon, Georgia had a man aboard with no one out in the first inning and could not advance him as far as second base, scored two runs in the third inning but had the bases loaded and couldn’t even get the ball out of the infield, had two men aboard with no one out in the fourth inning and could not score either of them, and had a man on second base with one out in the sixth inning and could not advance him.

Even-numbered year or no even-numbered year, this team isn’t going to Omaha, or to Atlanta or Tallahassee, or even to Hoover. Aside from Carson Schilling’s three-for-four, one-RBI outing on Sunday and a solid pitching performance on Saturday, there were no bright spots to this weekend. Three games into their SEC schedule, the Diamond Dogs already are done and this team is simply playing out the string. A third sub-par season in a four-year span is foreordained.

Go ‘Dawgs!