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In their season series with the Engineers, the Diamond Dogs won convincingly in Athens in March and lost narrowly at Turner Field in April, so Wednesday night’s clash on the campus of the Institute represented the rubber match in the 2012 exchange of games. At the Flats, the Red and Black came up short, 8-6, in a game that wasn’t as close for most of the night as the final score suggested.
Third baseman Curt Powell led off the top of the first frame by dropping a base hit into left field and stealing second base. When shortstop Kyle Farmer was plunked, it put two men aboard with no one out, but right fielder Hunter Cole grounded into a double play, and second baseman Levi Hyams stranded Powell at third with a groundout of his own.
Starter David Sosebee’s first pitch in the home half of the canto was sent into right center field for a single, and the baserunner moved the rest of the way around on a balk, a groundout, and a sacrifice fly. Back-to-back doubles made it 2-0 for the Golden Tornado. Center fielder Peter Verdin notched another inning-beginning single in the top of the second stanza, and first baseman Colby May followed that up with a four-pitch walk. A one-out passed ball put runners on second and third, but consecutive groundouts scored one while leaving the other 90 feet from becoming the tying run.
Reliever Jay Swinford took over the pitching duties at the outset of the home team’s turn at the plate, and, once again, the first batter registered a base hit. A stolen base and a passed ball later, the baserunner was standing on third with one out, but he was thrown out on a fielder’s choice. Though further Ramblin’ Wreck scoring was prevented in that instance, the Yellow Jackets generated another run in the third inning on two singles and a sacrifice bunt.
Following a hitless fourth frame, there were fireworks in the fifth canto. Catcher Joey Delmonico led off the visitors’ half of the stanza with a base hit, and Farmer advanced him to second with a two-out single, but a first-pitch flyout by Cole left the tying run aboard. Georgia Tech did not squander its opportunities in the bottom of the inning, however, as two singles and a walk loaded the bases with no one out, allowing one run to score on a fielder’s choice, another to come home on a double, and yet another to be plated by a two-out bases-loaded walk.
Continuing their trend of scoring only in the odd-numbered innings, the Yellow Jackets tacked on two in the bottom of the seventh stanza on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice and a base hit with a runner on third. Down, 8-1, in the top of the eighth frame, the Bulldogs finally found some offense when, after Powell and Farmer were plunked, Cole drove a home run to right center field to score three. Two subsequent singles gave hint that a rally might be in progress, but pinch hitter Jared Walsh grounded into a double play to prevent additional scoring.
The Classic City Canines came up to bat for the final time in the ninth canto, in which left fielder Conor Welton’s one-out double and Farmer’s two-out single combined to make the score 8-5 in favor of the bad guys. Cole kept hope alive with the double that pulled the Red and Black to within two, then designated hitter Brett DeLoach drew the walk that brought the would-be go-ahead run to the plate. Hyams grounded out to short.
Six times in nine innings, the Georgia leadoff batter reached base, yet the Diamond Dogs scored only one run in the first seven stanzas. The Athenians notched eleven hits (including a pair of doubles and a home run), had four guys hit by pitches, drew three walks, struck out only once as a team, and still scored only six runs, five of which came in what essentially was garbage time. Georgia Tech’s starting pitcher threw six stanzas of four-hit baseball without allowing an earned run, whereas David Perno used seven hurlers, none of whom lasted longer than two innings. The first four Bulldogs to take the mound combined to surrender nine hits, five walks, and six earned runs in five frames.