Georgia’s first lesson to learn this season is how to deal with frustration.
The Bulldogs have seen plenty, both on the field and on the scoreboard.
Botched scoring opportunities plagued Georgia as Belmont rallied for a 5-4 win in 11 innings on Sunday at Foley Field.
“It is tough,” Georgia third baseman Curt Powell said. “We were doing everything right except driving in that one extra run in the first nine innings. We’re right there. I feel like we’re right there and we’re about to get over that hump and we’ll start winning some games then.”
Georgia (2-5) dropped two of three games against Belmont (5-2) in a weekend series that included two extra-inning contests and a double header. Although Georgia dropped its fifth game of the season and its second consecutive weekend series, spirits remained high in the Bulldogs dugout.
“It’s a tough loss,” Georgia starter Luke Crumley said. “We had three tough games all weekend and every one of them was a battle and down to the wire. We went extra innings in two games. But we’re fine. We know we’re going to get it right. We showed signs this weekend. We’ve got to keep working hard.”
The loss spoiled standout games by Crumley and Powell. Crumley bounced back from giving up seven runs in two innings at Georgia Southern last week to pitch a career-high 5 1/3 innings, allowing two hits and two runs (both earned) with three strikeouts and one walk but did not figure into the decision. Powell set a career high with five hits, including a double.
“You don’t want to start off your senior season by having an outing like that (Georgia Southern) so it was big,” Crumley said. “Me and the coaches made some mechanical switches and we were able to get it right today.”
Heath Holder (0-1) took the loss for Georgia while Josh Davis (1-1) picked up the win for Belmont. Dom Veltri hit a two-RBI single in the top of the 11th and pitched the bottom of the 11th to pick up his first save of the season for Belmont.
Georgia’s scoring chances came and went like wind-blown leaves in the first 10 innings. Georgia put the leadoff man on base eight times and had base runners in 10 of the 11 innings. But only two scored, and both came on leadoff home runs by Brett DeLoach and Hunter Cole.
“It’s tough, I don’t know what to say,” Georgia coach David Perno said. “Our guys are fighting and they’re pulling hard. They deserve a break, and we just can’t get it.”
Georgia out-hit Belmont 15-8, but stranded 13 base runners and hit into four double plays.
The most damaging came in the third and fifth. Cole smashed a line drive to Belmont second baseman Alec Diamond who doubled Farmer off of first to end the third. Georgia started the fifth with a double by Curt Powell and a single by Farmer to put runners at first and third with nobody out. But Cole hit a soft liner to third and Brett DeLoach grounded into a double play to end the inning.
“I feel like we’re just waiting on that one hit,” Powell said. “I feel like if we get that one hit, everything’s going to open up and we’re going to get that monkey off of our back so we can take a deep breath and relax. But we’re almost there. We’re going to get it and we’re going to put some wins on that board.”
After squandering multiple scoring chances, Georgia’s final collapse came in the 11th as Holder and J.T. Phillips combined to allow three runs on five walks, two hits, two wild pitches and a balk. Belmont’s Drew Ferguson scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch by Phillips. Then Dom Veltri hit a two-RBI single to give Belmont a 5-2 lead.
Georgia made a push at the end as Kyle Farmer and Cole hit back-to-back RBI singles in the 11th to pull the Bulldogs within 5-4 with two outs.
Perno used 16 field substitutes and seven pitchers including Jared Walsh and Phillips who are also position players. Georgia lost his designated hitter when he sent Phillips in to pitch in the 11th. That left the Bulldogs short-handed at the plate during the rally in the bottom of the 11th. Pitcher Blake Dieterich, taking just the second at-bat of his career, struck out with runners at first and second to end the game.
“The pitchers did well until we got into the 11th inning and it kind of got away from us,” Perno said. “It was unfortunate, but we were just out of gas. We had opportunities to score and we didn’t take advantage of them and it led to a lot of chaos in that 11th inning. Nonetheless, we found a lot of things out. We know who we can’t run out there anymore to pitch, and we definitely know who we have to get right back out there.”