Kirk Carter here from beautiful Foley Field. It’s another gorgeous Friday evening in Athens, Georgia. This game is getting a late start thanks to ESPN, who obviously thinks everything should revolve around their schedule.
Tonight will be the first of a three-game series with Ole Miss. The Rebels come in to this series ranked #15 in the country by Baseball America. The Rebs are one of 7 SEC teams enjoying a spot in the top 25 this week.
Georgia comes into this one after losing two straight to #16 Clemson in the middle of the week. Georgia is currently in the middle of a nightmare stretch that features a three game road trip to #5 LSU, two midweek games with #16 Clemson, a three game home set with #15 Ole Miss, a Wednesday night matchup with #2 Georgia Tech, and a three game road series with #10 Arkansas before getting a much needed break against Winthrop.
Oh, after that their set to play #8 Florida, #20 Vanderbilt, and #11 South Carolina in consecutive weekends.
Before giving up on this Georgia squad, consider that Ole Miss comes into Athens riding a three game losing streak. SEC East co-cellar dwellers took two of three from Colonel Reb and the gang in Oxford. Then Arkansas-Little Rock snuck out an upset this past Wednesday.
If there was a time to draw Ole Miss its now.
Tonight won’t be easy of course. Ole Miss throws out its ace in lefthander Drew Pomeranz. The article below this one details just how nasty he is. I’m excited to see him up close and personal in tonight’s game.
Again, I’ll be bringing you all the coverage you could possibly want tonight. I’ll also try and be here Saturday and Sunday, because I know how much all of you love this live blog.
I want to give a special shout-out to my girlfriend who is fortunate enough to be out of the country. Some people go to great lengths to avoid seeing this atrocious baseball team.
Here are tonight’s starting lineups:
Ole Miss 21-9 (5-4 SEC)
Tim Ferguson – cf – r
Matt Tracy – lf – l
Matt Smith – rf – r
Matt Snyder – l – dh
Zach Miller – 3b – r
Miles Hambin – 1b – l
Alex Yarbrough – 2b – s
Taylor Hightower – c – s
Kevin Mort – ss – r
On the mound: Drew Pomeranz
Rebel to watch: Matt Snyder
Missed some time due to shoulder surgery, but he’s back now. Leads Ole Miss in slugging percentage, on base percentage, and OPS.
Georgia 10 – 19 (2-7 SEC)
Johnathan Taylor – lf – l
Peter Verdin – rf – r
Levi Hyams – 2b – l
Zach Cone – cf – r
Kyle Farmer – ss – r
Brett DeLoach – dh – r
Colby May – 3b – r
Kevin Ruiz – 1b – r
Carson Schilling – c – r
On the mound: Justin Grimm
Justin has struggled this year, but he’s the most reliable arm that Georgia has. He’s 2-3 with a 4.46 ERA.
Bulldog to watch: Levi Hyams
Levi has played his way into the third spot in the order. No matter which way you cut it, he’s on fire. The last two weekends, Levi has hit .407 with 6 doubles, 1 home run and 11 RBI. Now if everyone else could catch up.
Different look for Georgia tonight. Carson Schilling makes his second straight start behind the plate. Robert Shipman will be getting some much needed rest tonight so Brett DeLoach takes over at designated hitter. Meanwhile, Kevin Ruiz’ play in place of Colby May against Clemson this week has earned him some weekend PT in place of the scuffling Chase Davidson.
How can you not love a beautiful night like this? Come on down to Foley Field if you can. If you can’t, park it in front of your computers and get ready.
It’s all the excitement of baseball with the added burden of reading… the blogging begins next:
Stat of the night: Georgia has been outscored 31-15 in the first inning. Interestingly enough, they’re 4-15 when their opponent scores first. Lets hope that Grimm can keep Ole Miss off the board here in the opening frame.
The Rebels are outfitted with navy caps, red jerseys with white numbering and lettering, and white pants… its very similar to the look the Braves and their red alternate.
Georgia is in the black caps with red brims, black jerseys, black socks, and white pants. As I’ve noted before, they look sharp.
A good crowd here tonight, not a sellout, but Georgia fans have respectable representation tonight.
Turd… err… Tim Ferguson leads it off with a deep fly out to center field. Cone settles underneath it for out number one.
Tracy follows with a sharp chopper to Hyams at second. With Ruiz off the bag, Grimm charges over to first and dives to nab the throw from Hyams and record out number two by a whisker. That’s some good PFP (pitcher’s fielding practice) paying off.
Smith falls down 1-2 and with the crowd on their feet rips a Grimm fastball right to Ruiz at first base. Score it an out. Mid 1st : Boondocks Community College 0 – Georgia 0.
Due up: Taylor, Verdin, Hyams
Pomeranz looks every bit as intimidating as the stat line makes him out to be. A tall lefty at 6′5″ he can really snap that fastball in from a high overhead delivery.
So far, I’ve counted scouts from the Nationals, Padres, Mariners, Braves, Marlins, and a couple other guys not dressed as obviously.
JT with a chopper to Yarbrough at second base, he throws on to Hamblin for the first out here in the bottom of the first.
I gave Peter Verdin and his pitch selection a lot of grief in these blogs. Not anymore, Verdin draws a five pitch walk, and the speedy right fielder is aboard.
The key for Georgia is to take a lot of pitches and wear the Rebels’ star pitcher down. The sooner they can get into that bullpen the better.
Getting on base would also help, Hyams goes down swinging for out number 2. Zach Cone… ugh… skies the first pitch to third base. Way to go killer.
Mississippi Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good 0 – Georgia 0
Due up: Snyder, Miller, Hamblin
Snyder gets on top of one and grounds it down to Ruiz at first base. A tough hop requires the redshirt freshman to make a play with an awkward backhand. He’s got it though, out number 1.
Miller is aboard with a base hit through the left side of the infield.
Grimm comes back to fan Hamblin on a high fast ball. Grimm has touched 93 with the heater and seems to be staying right there in the low 90s range.
A chopper from Yarbrough nearly eats up Hyams but the sophomore stays on top of it to make the play and Georgia is out of the second with no harm done.
Oxford Cow College 0 – Georgia 0
Due up: Farmer, DeLoach, May
Farmer digs in againt Pomeranz and quickly goes down looking. DeLoach is quick to follow with a grounder down to short which is easily thrown over to first for an easy out.
Colby May has been battling a nagging hamstring injury all year. Maybe the rest earlier in the week will help pull him out of his season long funk. Nope… May goes down on three pitches.
People who think its cool to chant “the South will rise again” 0 – Georgia 0
Due up: Hightower, Mort, Ferguson (0-1)
As much as I aim to continue ridiculing Tim “Turd” Ferguson, Kevin Mort deserves some nagging too. Mort might be the go-to name for goofy, awkward characters.
Hightower fans on a well placed fastball from Grimm. Mort rides one out to deep center, but Cone has the range to nab it and prevent the double. Great play from Coney.
Here comes Turd.. he flew out to center his first time up. This time he grounds one down to Colby. After a bobble, May fires on to Ruiz for the final out.
If you can read this, you didn’t go to Ole Miss 0 – Georgia 0
Due up: Ruiz, Schilling, Taylor (0-1)
Grounder down the middle from Ruiz is fielded by Yarbrough for out number one. That brings up Carson Schilling, whose intro song is “Ride that Train,” a song that ceased to be cool the day after it was recorded, yet is a staple of middle school dances and wedding receptions.
Ugly strikeout for Schilling. He’s in there for the defense folks, he’s in there for the defense.
EXCITING NEWS: Six Flags coupons have returned to Coke cans… a surefire sign that summer is around the corner. This begs the question, has anyone ever paid the regular admission price for Six Flags?
Taylor works the count to 3-2, but he’s sat down on a foul tip that lands in the mitt of Hightower.
Fightin’ Illiterates 0 – Georgia 0
Due up: Tracy (0-1), Smith (0-1), Snyder (0-1)
Tracy brings a hush over the crowd with a deep fly ball out to right center. Foley’s spacious dimensions make it possible for Verdin to play it at the warning track for out number 1.
After working the count to 3-2 and fouling off a couple, Smith chops one out to Farmer at short. Out number 2 here in the 4th.
I guess now is a good time to say that I was way off with my Masters prediction. I bet heavily that Tiger’s first drive would hit a fire hydrant and then a tree. Guess he only does that when he’s on Ambien.
Snyder puts a good bat on the ball and lines it out to center. Zach Cone is there for the third out. Ole Miss goes quietly in the 4th.
Academic anchor of the SEC 0 – Georgia 0
Due up: Verdin (0-0), Hyams (0-1), Cone (0-1)
Verdin stands for the second time, he walked back in the 4th. Lets see what the Dawgs can do a second time through the order. Georgia has scored 38 runs in the 4th inning this year, considerably more than any other frame. That’s pretty significant considering the 4th is usually the inning where your best hitters get their second AB against a pitcher.
Another five pitch walk for Verdin. Great eye up there at the plate tonight.
Hyams places his bunt poorly, Pomeranz will charge and fire to second to nab Verdin. Levi reaches on the 1-6 fielder’s choice.
Cone chases a high fastball out of the zone for strike three. Two down for Kyle Farmer.
Deep liner from Farmer gets by Smith in right field for a hit. Hyams scores on the two-out triple from Farmer.
That is Kyle’s first triple on the year and his 10th RBI. It also breaks up the no-hitter Pomeranz had working.
Fightin’ Admiral Ackbars 0 – Georgia 1
Due up: Miller, Hamblin, Yarbrough
Kudos to Grimm who has the fastball working so far. He’s struggled with locating a couple of his pitches… but no walks and only one hit scattered through 4 innings.
He gets Miller to chase a high fastball 2-1 out of the zone… Farmer fields it easily and shoots in on over to first for out number one.
High foul pop up over by third base, Colby May makes the catch on a ball that looked like it was going to land in the stands.
Yarbrough swings and missed for a huge third strike. Foley Field erupts as Grimm shuts the door on the Ole Miss 5th.
Old Mississippi (sounds like a second-rate cologne) 0 – Georgia 1
Due up: May (0-1), Ruiz (0-1), Schilling (0-1)
May leads things off with a chopper down the third base line for out number one. He’s starting to become less productive than Chase Davidson.
There is a fan here in the stands cheering loudly for the Bulldogs. While I appreciate anyone who comes out to cheer for their team, this one particular fan is bringing back horrible memories.
In 2001, a much younger and more impressionable me attended an NCAA regional game between Georgia and Georgia Southern. That guy was there. One row in front of me. Unfortunately, the classy individual forgot to wear a belt, so my brother and I were forced to gaze at his exposed plumber’s crack for 9 grueling innings. I shudder everytime I see him. Say no to crack kids.
Now that I’ve shared way too much information, Ruiz struck out and Schilling walked. There. You didn’t miss much.
Taylor goes down looking on a curveball that even made my knees buckle. The poor girl the Red and Black sent to cover the game thinks its cute they do a sack race… amateur.
A place with less academic rigor than my elementary school 0 – Georgia 1
Due up: Hightower (0-1), Mort (0-1), Ferguson (0-2)
Hightower skies a flyball out to center. You know how this story ends… Cone grabs it for out number one.
Mort dribbles a grounder down to Farmer at short. He even runs like a loser. Out number two.
Its Ferguson time yet again. It’s worth noting that he’s actually a good player and leads Ole Miss in batting average. Plus, I’ve got multiple games to cover this weekend, I can’t use up all my jokes.
Ferguson rips a ball down the line to May at third. Colby is able to dive to get in front of it, but the throw is not in time. It’s generously scored an error. Ferguson stands at first without a hit tonight. He does however nab second base, Schillings throw is not in time and Ole Miss has the tying run in scoring position.
The 2-2 pitch is a b-e-a-utiful strike for out number three. Grimm has been otherworldly tonight.
M-i-crooked letter-crooked letter-i-crooked letter-crooked letter-i-hump back-hump back-i 0 – Georgia 1.
Due up: Verdin (0-0), Hyams (0-1), Cone (0-2)
Verdin’s first swing of the night unleashes a fly ball out to left for out number one. Hyams is quick to follow, striking out on four pitches.
Zach Cone stands in, proving that you’re automatically cooler when Snoop Dogg is your up to bat music.
Know what isn’t cool, striking out. I’m looking at you Cone.
School that hates Snoop Dogg 0 – School that’s practically named after Snoop 1
Due up: Smith (0-2), Snyder (0-2), Miller (1-2)
Kudos to the sound guy behind me, two great music selections the past two half innings. “1901″ by Phoenix and “Centerfield” by John Fogerty. Can’t go wrong with those too.
Smith loops a line drive in to centerfield for a base hit. Then proceeds to waste everyones time by taking forever to remove his batting gloves at first base. Get it together man, get it together.
Grimm misses with 4 straight pitches to Snyder. It’s time to start warming someone up coach. (There’s still no one in the bullpen).
Weiderhold out to conference with Grimm. Still no one headed out to the ‘pen. Perno’s reasoning “he hasn’t given up 12 runs yet.”
Miller takes a pitch to the back, that’ll load the bases with no one out. Perno hasn’t flinched… I think he just stopped caring around the Auburn series.
Hamblin skies a pitch out to left field, the sacrifice fly will score Smith and we’re tied back up at 1-1.
High pop up to shallow right, Hyams calls off Verdin and nearly falls down in the process of making the catch. My heart just skipped a beat. Two out.
Pomeranz has made his way down to foul territory to keep the arm loose. Looks like he’s coming back out for the bottom of the 7th.
Hightower flies one to deep left. The place erupts as Taylor nestles it in the glove at the warning track for the third out.
Guys that are way too into the Confederacy 1 – Georgia 1
Due up: Farmer (1-2), DeLoach (0-2), May (0-2)
Diamond Dave Williams just busted out his rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” I will not be satisfied until they allow me to sing it as Harry Caray. Forget the peanuts and Cracker Jack, I’ll take a tall cool Budweiser and a plate of BBQ spare ribs.
Farmer leads things off with a double, all of a sudden, Georgia has a great opportunity with the go-ahead run on second and no one out.
DeLoach bounces one to second base, it’ll move Farmer to third base, and DeLoach will be called out on a close play at first base.
If there were ever a time for Colby May to break out of his season-long slump it would be now. Farmer is just 90 feet away and the Dawgs have a chance to hand it over to Al McRee and the Diesel in the 8th and 9th.
Nope. Another strikeout.
Up comes Ruiz. Kevin was the only Bulldog with multiple hits against Clemson on Tuesday night.
Aaaaand he’s down on strikes. That’s out number three, Farmer is left stranded on 3rd.
Avid readers (sarcasm intended) 1 – Georgia 1
Due up: Mort (0-2), Ferguson (0-2), Tracy (0-2)
Mort defies his inherent nerdiness and sends a blast out to left field, Taylor leaps but can’t grab it at the wall. Home run Rebels, it’s 2-1.
Quick score update from around the SEC:
Florida beat Tennessee 4-2
South Carolina beat Vandy 3-2
Kentucky upset Alabama 10-6
Georgia needs to win to keep pace with Kentucky for 4th in the SEC East. Heck, they need to win to avoid being lumped in last place with Tennessee.
After a conference on the mound, Grimm gets Ferguson to fly out to deep center for out number 1.
Tracy legs out a double to the gap in left center. Oh goodness, I have that feeling coming on again. Georgia is about to give up a lot of runs, aren’t they?
3-2 pitch to Smith is good for strike three. Smith can’t believe it, neither can I. Two out and I’m feeling a tad more optimistic.
By the way, the fan I mentioned earlier, is still heckling the umpire even after he called an Ole Miss player out with a shaky called third strike. That’s dedication folks… or stupidity… I’m not sure which one.
0-2 pitch gets Snyder swinging for strike three. Foley Field erupts yet again as Grimm walks the tightrope.
Ole Miss 2 – Georgia 1
Due up: Schilling (0-1), Taylor (0-3), Verdin (0-1)
New left fielder for the Rebels. Taylor Hashman stays in the game after pinch running for Tracy.
Schilling rides that train out to right field for out number one. Now he’ll ride that train back to the dugout. He’s struck out 13 Georgia batters tonight while scattering 1 run and 3 hits, I’d say he’s as good as advertised.
Give credit to Pomeranz, he does not want to be outdone by Grimm. He’s come back out for the 8th inning here.
There’s the JT we know. Taylor pokes a ball through the left side of the infield for a base hit. Please don’t get picked off. Please don’t get picked off. *crosses fingers* Please don’t get picked off.
The free-swinging Peter Verdin has returned and fallen down 1-2 before fanning for strike three. Taylor, meanwhile, narrowly avoids the tag and records a stolen base, his 10th of the year.
Here comes Levi Hyams, if anyone has had a hotter bat than him coming into this series I’d like to see it. With Taylor on 2nd a base hit can tie this ball game.
The drama has picked up as Ole Miss’ manager makes a visit out to the mound. My heart is going a mile a minute… big situation here for a team that hasn’t been in the position to face too many big situations.
Hyams works the count to 3-2 and even fouls off a couple. In the end he goes down swinging and the Georgia threat is over in the 8th. Three outs left.
Ole Miss 2 – Georgia 1
Due up: Miller (1-2), Hamblin (0-2), Yarbrough (0-3)
Justin Earls on to pitch the 9th for Georgia. The left-handed senior came on to pitch a few scoreless frames against Clemson after Eric Swegman and Steve Esmonde combined to surrender 9 runs in one inning of work on Tuesday.
Final line on Grimm, 2 earned runs on 4 hits. He surpasses a career high by going 8 innings and striking out 6.
Earls immediately surrenders a single up the middle to Miller. After falling behind 3-0 to Hamblin, he gets him on three straight strikes for the first out.
Miller nabs second base on a steal. Close play by Schilling, but Earls just is way to slow from the stretch.
Base hit from Yarbrough plates a speedy Miller. That’s where steals come back to bite you. Ole Miss tacks on some insurance 3-1.
Bouncer from Hightower heads over to May. Colby fires on down to first, and we’ve got two away. Yarbrough does move down to second on the play, so don’t get too giddy.
Hyams is moved over in order to cover the bag at second and Mort takes advantage, with a two hopper through the right side of the infield and past a diving Hyams. Yarbrough scoots around and its 4-1, Mort nerdily takes 2nd on the throw home.
Pomeranz warming up down the third base line. Looks like he wants to finish this one off. When you’ve struck out every batter at least once, why not.
Earls gasses one by Ferguson for the final out of the inning.
Good call by Perno using a guy that’s already admitted to being overworked. Just goes to show you how reliable he thinks the other pitchers are.
Ole Miss 4 – Georgia 1
Due up: Cone (0-3), Farmer (2-3), DeLoach (0-3)
If Pomeranz can close this one out, he’ll record his first complete game of the season. He’ll have to face Cone, Farmer, and DeLoach to do it. Two of those outs should be easy, he’s sat down Cone on strikes two times tonight and DeLoach hasn’t hit anything all year.
Cone with a poker back up the middle for a basehit. Georgia has a faint glimmer of hope here in the bottom of the 9th and Kyle Farmer striding to the plate.
That’ll be enough to chase Pomeranz back to the showers. Now pitching for the Rebels, right hander Brett Huber.
Final line on the big lefty: 8 IP, 15 K, 4 H, 1 R, 3 BB
Compared to Grimm: 8 IP, 6 K, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 HB
I’d say that our boy matched him as well as anyone could tonight. Admirable effort from the Bulldog starter.
Farmer skies one into shallow right field, its going to be out number 1 here in the bottom of the 9th… Cone forgets to re-tag and he’s tagged out by the second baseman. Ugh. Zach Cone is the worst base runner in the world.
Zach Taylor comes on to pinch-hit for DeLoach here. He’s the last hope for Georgia, especially after Cone demonstrated how brilliant he is on the basepaths.
He hits a slow roller out to first base. Hamblin tosses on to Huber for the third out. Game over folks, see you again tomorrow.
Ole Miss 000 000 112 470
Georgia 000 100 000 141
Player of the game: Drew Pomeranz 8.0 IP, 15 K, 4 H, 1 R, 3 BB