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Gym Dogs Win, Diamond Dogs Fall, and Kirk Olivadotti is Athens-Bound in Friday Night Dawg Bites

Sometimes, a busy day in the life of a sports blogger and a busy day in the life of the athletics program he covers occur on the same day; this was one of those days. Consequently, I am here to wrap up your Free Form Friday with a rapid rundown of significant events in Bulldog Nation; to wit:

I learned how to spell "Lakatos," and now I have to learn how to spell "Olivadotti"? Mark Richt has hired a new inside linebackers coach to replace Warren Belin, and, as rumored previously and reported here by hailtogeorgia, Kirk Olivadotti is the newest member of the Bulldog coaching staff. Coach Olivadotti, whose eleven years with the Washington Redskins made him the longest-tenured assistant on the NFL organization’s staff, last coached at the college level in 1999, the latest of his three seasons with Division III Maine Maritime and Division I-AA Indiana State. However, he has experience working with the likes of Marvin Lewis and Ray Rhodes, and he was Todd Grantham’s choice, which is a strong point in his favor. In addition, Coach Olivadotti will celebrate his 38th birthday next January 1. With any luck, he’ll commemorate the occasion by coaching the Red and Black in a New Year’s Day bowl game.

Today’s multimedia moment! Speaking of Coach Grantham, his recent interview on 790 The Zone may be heard here, while video of the SEC winter coaches’ meeting is available here. Coach Richt deserves kudos for sporting team apparel in the group photo.

I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but. . . . Chris Dobbertean thinks the last four teams to get into the NCAA Tournament without the need for a play-in game include the Georgia Bulldogs, and the mock tourney selection committee agrees. The Red and Black are right on the edge, but they need their resume to include something more than just close losses to good teams to make the field.

Second verse, same as the first. The Diamond Dogs opened the season on the road against the Stetson Hatters, falling 6-3 after the home team broke open what had been a tight ballgame. After DeLand, Fla., native Chipper Jones threw out the first pitch, starting hurler Michael Palazzone took the mound for the Red and Black, surrendering five hits, two earned runs, and a walk in four innings’ worth of work. By the end of the evening, Stetson had out-hit the visiting Athenians by a 13-10 margin in an error-free outing. The offensive star for the Bulldogs was first baseman Jonathan Hester, who went three for four from the No. 6 spot in the lineup and matched the combined RBI total of the five hitters ahead of him in the order.

Georgia drew first blood in the top of the third frame when center fielder Zach Cone brought left fielder Johnathan Taylor home on an RBI single, but the home team answered with the tying run in the bottom of the canto and the go-ahead score in the fourth stanza. The Bulldogs pulled even with the Hatters on the passed ball that allowed Hester to cross home plate for an unearned run in the sixth inning.

Red and Black relievers John Herman and Tyler Maloof got into a jam in the home half of the same frame, loading the bases with no one out before surrendering an RBI single and a two-out bases-clearing double to stake Stetson to a 6-2 advantage. Three straight Bulldog batters struck out swinging in the top of the seventh stanza to squander a leadoff double by second baseman Levi Hyams, so Hester had to take matters into his own hands and drive a solo shot to left field with one out away in the eighth inning to close out the scoring.

Unfortunately for Jay Clark, there’s more to being the Georgia gymnastics coach than just beating Western Division Tigers who only nominally field teams. The fifth-ranked Gym Dogs visited Baton Rouge on Friday night to tangle with the No. 21 Bayou Bengals, emerging victorious by a 196.5-196.35 tally. Although Georgia failed to card a score above a 9.875 in either of the first two rotations, the Red and Black also recorded only one mark below a 9.725, enabling the Athenians to take a 98.25-98.05 lead at the midpoint after both teams had performed on the bars and the vault.

Gina Nuccio posted a 9.9 in the floor exercise during the third rotation, after which the Bulldogs were out in front by a 147.425-147.075 margin. Georgia closed out the competition on the balance beam, where the Red and Black struggled initially before closing with their fourth event tally of the evening above 49. Following their less than inspired performance against a lower-ranked squad on the road, the Gym Dogs will return to action one week from tonight in a home meet against archrival Alabama. Against Sarah Patterson’s Crimson Tide, a 196.5 simply will not get the job done.

You are now up to speed on major events in Bulldog Nation. I now return you to your regularly-scheduled weekend, which already is in progress.

Go ‘Dawgs!