The Diamond Dogs started to come out of their slump by sweeping a doubleheader against LSU, and the Volunteers apparently did the same thing as a result of Tennessee’s sweep of a twin bill against Alabama. Even with last weekend’s two wins, the Big Orange came into Friday night’s home date with Georgia sporting a 4-11 league ledger, yet the Classic City Canines fell in extra innings to sink below .500 for the season.
Following a couple of scoreless cantos, the Vols took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning on a trio of singles, a hit batsman, a sacrifice bunt, and a balk. The Bulldogs got one of those runs back in the upper half of the fourth frame after center fielder Zach Cone drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a base hit by designated hitter Brett DeLoach, took third when right fielder Kevin Ruiz reached on a fielder’s choice, and scored an unearned run on a passed ball.
A second Georgia run was plated in the top of the fifth stanza, thanks to a triple by second baseman Levi Hyams and a sacrifice fly by third baseman Curt Powell, but the Big Orange extended their lead with a leadoff single, a pair of stolen bases, and an RBI base hit through the left side.
The Red and Black loaded the bases in the visitors’ half of the eighth frame when Cone sent a single through the right side, DeLoach was plunked, and Ruiz walked on a payoff pitch. Left fielder Conor Welton drove in two to tie the game, but the Classic City Canines stranded two in the ninth inning to squander an opportunity to take the lead. Accordingly, the contest proceeded to the tenth stanza.
In bonus cantos, a two-out Welton walk was wasted when the Georgia outfielder was caught stealing, then the Volunteers began the bottom of the frame with a leadoff walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a base hit to put runners at the corners with one out away in the host squad’s turn at the plate. Tyler Maloof walked the next batter on four pitches to load the bases, setting the stage for a base hit to bring home the game-winning run.
This was a game the Diamond Dogs desperately needed to win. With the SEC East featuring three of the country’s top five teams, Georgia needed a sweep this weekend to have any hope of finishing in the top half of the division. Now the Athenians are behind the eight ball, needing to take tomorrow’s and Sunday’s contests just to avoid losing the series. This was an awful way to begin the weekend.