David Perno’s Diamond Dogs rode a five-game winning streak into Oxford for a crucial SEC series. The Classic City Canines emerged from Friday evening’s contest with a 9-8 victory and a six-game victory skein.
The game did not get off to an auspicious start for the visiting Athenians, though. In the first inning, Georgia’s only baserunner was the result of an Ole Miss error, whereas the Rebels loaded the bases to begin the home team’s turn at bat. The leadoff hitter was plunked, the next Mississippian drew a four-pitch walk, and Alex Wood’s next throw to home plate was turned into a bunt single.
A fielder’s choice and a throwing error plated two unearned runs, and a third followed on a sacrifice fly to send the contest to the second canto with the host squad leading 3-0. The Red and Black began attacking that advantage in the top of the third frame when left fielder Peter Verdin reached on a fielding error, swiped second, and came home on a base hit by third baseman Curt Powell. A walk drawn by shortstop Kyle Farmer and a single punched through the right side by center fielder Zach Cone made it 3-2 without an earned run having been scored.
Georgia took the lead in the fourth stanza, thanks to a trio of singles by first baseman Jonathan Hester, catcher Brandon Stephens, and second baseman Levi Hyams. As a result of a Farmer single, a Cone double, and a Rebel fielding error, two more runs came across for the Diamond Dogs in the fifth inning. Ole Miss, after having gone three up and three down for three straight frames, began battling back in the bottom of the fifth canto, plating a run on a single, a double, and a sacrifice fly.
Each team scored one run in the sixth stanza, with Georgia’s coming on a leadoff single, a sacrifice bunt, another single, and a sacrifice fly. Mississippi took the less circuitous route of driving a two-out first-pitch solo home run to left center field. The seventh inning saw the Rebs use two singles, a wild pitch, and an RBI fielder’s choice to cut the Red and Black lead to a lone run.
Hester provided the visitors with a bit of insurance in the opening at-bat of the eighth frame by leading off with a home run, and the Classic City Canines added further to their advantage in the top of the ninth canto with a walk, a stolen base, and an RBI single to make the score 9-6 in favor of the Red and Black.
Tyler Maloof took over on the mound for the home team’s turn at the plate needing to notch three outs before surrendering three runs. He promptly walked catcher Miles Hamblin on a payoff pitch and surrendered the first-pitch home run to right fielder Jordan Poole that eliminated all margin for error for the Diamond Dogs. Having thus given us all a panic-inducing Joshua Fields moment, the Georgia closer proceeded to extract a strikeout and a pair of flyouts from the next three batters he faced.
Though the game was not pretty in the early going, the better team won. The Red and Black out-hit their hosts 12-8, and the Athenians plated seven earned runs to the Rebels’ five. Levi Hyams and Curt Powell combined to go three for nine with four RBI at the top of the order, while Tyler Maloof claimed his twelfth save to secure the win for Alex Wood, who gave the Bulldogs seven innings in which he surrendered six hits and three earned runs. For the rebounding Athenians, the game was big, so the win was good, by whatever lawful means obtained.