The Diamond Dogs hosted Winthrop on Wednesday, and a fretful Bulldog Nation worried whether the Red and Black could get by the visiting Eagles. The game clearly represented Georgia’s best chance for a victory against the Classic City Canines’ remaining schedule, and the home team came through with a 4-2 triumph at Foley Field.
Chase Hawkins began his fourth start of the season by retiring the Eagles in order in the top of the first frame. Peter Verdin led off the home half of the inning with a double, and Levi Hyams moved him over with a groundout so that Zach Cone’s sacrifice fly could score him. The Bulldogs, who came into the contest having gone 5-18 when allowing the other team to plate the inaugural run of the outing, had drawn first blood.
Winthrop tied it up in the visitors’ half of the second stanza on a combination of a leadoff walk, a Hyams error, a sacrifice bunt, and an RBI single. Kyle Farmer answered with a leadoff triple in the lower half of the canto. Christian Glisson brought the Georgia shortstop home with a base hit, and Johnathan Taylor scored the Red and Black designated hitter from second with a one-out single.
A leadoff single by Sean Sullivan was squandered in the top of the third frame when the next three Eagles carded outs without advancing the baserunner. Georgia had only a base hit by Hyams to show for the bottom of the inning, and, when Malcolm Clapsaddle took over the hurling duties in the upper half of the fourth canto, the Athenian reliever plunked Matt Thielepape. The Winthrop first baseman swiped second and came the rest of the way around on a two-out single by Tyler McBride.
After the Classic City Canines produced a pair of base hits but no runs in the home half of the stanza, Steve Esmonde came on in the top of the fifth frame and extracted groundouts from three of the four batters he faced. The bottom of the inning saw Verdin notch a one-out single and come home on a Hyams double.
Cecil Tanner held the Eagles to a three-up-and-three-down canto in the upper half of the sixth stanza, whereas a leadoff single, a passed ball, and a base on balls forced Dom Patterozzi from the hill in the bottom of the inning. Tommy Lawrence succeeded the Winthrop starter in time to coax a double-play ball from Brett DeLoach and a groundout from Colby May.
Jeff Walters, who took over the pitching duties to start the seventh frame, conceded a two-out single followed by a walk, but he retired the next visiting batter to preserve the Diamond Dogs’ two-run edge. The Red and Black failed to extend their advantage in their turn at the plate, in which they generated only a two-out single.
Next up on the mound was Michael Palazzone, who surrendered only a two-out single in the top of the eighth canto. When Farmer’s one-out single in the home half of the inning went for naught, Alex McRee was sent in from the bullpen to pitch the visitors’ half of the ninth stanza. He gave up the leadoff walk that brought the potential tying run to the plate, but succeeded in persuading Patrick Gamblin to ground into a double play.
Sullivan next drew the base on balls that again brought up the batter representing the tying run, at which point the hurling responsibilities devolved upon Cooper Moseley. Eddie Rohan obligingly flied out to center field, snapping the Diamond Dogs’ losing streak and closing out a contest in which the bullpen allowed four hits and one earned run in six innings’ worth of work.
Georgia doubled up Winthrop both in runs (4-2) and in hits (12-6) thanks to the efforts of Kyle Farmer (3 for 4), Christian Glisson (2 for 2, 1 RBI), Levi Hyams (3 for 4, 1 RBI), and Peter Verdin (2 for 4). Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to celebrate this win too much, as the Bulldogs’ third and fourth hitters (Zach Cone and Robert Shipman, respectively) together went hitless in five at-bats with a pair of strikeouts. The Athenians stranded a baserunner in each of the last six cantos while being held scoreless in five of those frames. The ninth inning did not need to be nearly as nerve-wracking as it was, but, under the circumstances, any win is a good win.