After two clutch midweek wins over Clemson, Georgia baseball hosted LSU this past weekend in the first heavyweight clash of the schedule. With the eyes of college baseball on Athens, the Diamond Dawgs came up short, one game to two.
Friday night saw the UGA bats wither against LSU starter Anthony Ranaudo. The righty struck out ten and solved the white hot Rich Poythress, who struck out three times. When Ranaudo wasn't striking batters out, he was working out of jams, as the Dawgs stranded 11 baserunners. Trevor Holder made three bad pitches and the Tigers drove them way out of the park. The game was out of hand by the time Georgia rallied for four runs in the eighth and ninth innings, powered primarily by Bryce Massanari's two homers. Massanari went 3-for-5, breaking out of his conference play doldrums.
Saturday's game was more like a church softball game than a baseball contest. Georgia jumped out to a big 10-3 lead before LSU charged back for five in the eigth and ninth innings. Massanari stayed hot and Poythress bounced back to go 3-for-5. May, Cerione, and Lewis also had big offensive days. Alex McRee got into and out of some serious jams, but pitched well enough to hold the Tigers to a couple of earned runs. Lyle Allen hurt his leg Saturday and didn't play Sunday. Not sure when he'll be back.
So, Sunday's game was the all important rubber match and it lived up to the hype. The game was tight throughout, as UGA made two combacks to take a 5-4 lead in the fifth on a Matt Cerione homer. The next inning, Chase Davidson dropped a two out fly ball in right and LSU freshman Mikie Mahtook took Will Harvil deep on the next at bat. Those two unearned runs were the difference. LSU won 7-5 behind an impressive pitching performance by Louis Coleman, LSU's ace, who worked eight innings and must have thrown over 125 pitches. The Dawgs threatened in the bottom of the ninth, but Zach Cone struck out with two runners on.
The series saw some good and a lot of bad. Bryce Massanari (8-for-13), Colby May (6-for-9) and Matt Cerione (6-for-11) put up big offensive numbers. McRee and Grimm pitched well enough to win. Demperio, Davison and Cerione made some brilliant defensive plays. On the other hand, the defense made seven errors this weekend, including Davidson's critical drop. LSU made none. The pitching staff walked 17 batters. LSU walked eight. If you give good teams extra chances, you'll need to play a lot better than they do. We didn't this weekend. There were also several odd baserunning decisions that cost us.
I don't want to take anything away from the Tigers who pitched exceedingly well, but if we made that many mistakes and the rubber game was that close, it makes you think we gave the series away. We're still leading the SEC East by a game and trail Arkansas by two games for the league lead. The team has got to play better defense and stop walking batters. Winthrop visits Athens Tuesday and Wednesday before the Dawgs head to Lexington this weekend.