ATHENS-----Georgia battles No. 22 Georgia Tech Tuesday at Turner Field in the 14th annual Spring Baseball Classic For Kids. The game benefits Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and first pitch will be at 7:03 p.m. and be televised by the SEC Network.
Georgia owns a 9-4 edge in the series at Turner Field. This year, the Bulldogs have won the on-campus meetings with Tech, posting a 3-1 win in Atlanta and a 13-5 victory in Athens. Georgia leads the all-time series with Tech 205-161-1. Georgia will have a staff night on the mound versus Tech with an SEC series versus Tennessee starting Thursday. Junior LHP Andrew Gist (3-2, 5.04 ERA) will start for the Bulldogs while Tech goes with freshman RHP Burton Dulaney (2-3, 4.72 ERA).
Georgia (26-26 overall, 10-17 SEC) closes out the regular season this week with an eye on clinching a spot in the SEC Tournament and improving its chances of an NCAA at-large bid. The Bulldogs Strength of Schedule (SoS) ranks No. 1 nationally among baseball websites, and their RPI sits at No. 30, according to the NCAA.
This season, Georgia endured a school-record 22-game stretch against ranked opponents, going 8-14 in this span. Overall, Georgia is 9-16 against the top 25. Last year, Auburn got an NCAA bid after going 13-17 in the SEC (34-22 overall) with an RPI in the 20s. In 2011, Georgia had a strong SoS and RPI, went 31-30 including a run to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament, to earn an NCAA bid. Currently, the Bulldogs are in 10th place in the SEC and the top 12 teams advance to the SEC Tournament. Georgia’s magic number to clinch a spot is one. Auburn and Missouri are 11th at 8-19 in league play while Tennessee (26-26) and Arkansas are tied for 13th at 7-20.
Georgia is batting .251 with an ERA of 4.53 and fielding .968. In SEC action, the Bulldogs are hitting .255 with a 5.31 ERA and fielding .962. The first two games of the UT series will be available on SEC Network+ while Saturday’s contest will be on the SEC Network. Last week, Georgia went 3-1, blanking Western Carolina 6-0 and then claiming a road series over Missouri.
Georgia’s leading hitters are juniors Skyler Weber (.314-4-31, 11 SB) and Stephen Wrenn (.294-4-23, 12 SB) Weber has started all 52 games with 37 in right field, 14 at catcher and one as a designated hitter. Catcher Michael Curry (.263-11-32) had a monster week to earn National Player of the Week and SEC Freshman of the Week honors, blasting four home runs to give him a team-leading 11 on the year and that ranks third in the SEC. Curry hit .571 (8-for-14) with seven RBI in four starts at catcher. In the Missouri series, he batted .500 (6-for-12) with three home runs, four runs scored and five RBI. The Bulldog lineup has been missing senior DH Daniel Nichols (.252-6-19) due to a concussion after getting injured before the Ole Miss game on May 7.
Meanwhile on the mound, senior Heath Holder (4-3, 3.12 ERA) who leads the SEC in lowest opponent’s batting average at .162 and ranks among the top four nationally in fewest hits allowed per nine innings, notched another win this past Sunday to clinch the Missouri series. Junior Robert Tyler (3-5, 4.15 ERA) and junior Connor Jones (5-6, 4.87 ERA) served as the starters in the first two games of the series against the Tigers. Freshman Kevin Smith (5-1, 4.42 ERA) picked up a pair of wins in relief last week too while sophomore Bo Tucker (3-4, 3.38 ERA) notched his third save.
Did You Know? Georgia Bulldog coach Scott Stricklin played for Danny Hall as a catcher at Kent State from 1991-93. Hall would land the Tech job in 1994 while Stricklin signed with the Minnesota Twins. After finishing his professional baseball career, Stricklin’s first coaching job came at Tech under Hall as a volunteer coach from 1998-99 and then as a hitting coach/recruiting coordinator from 2002-04.
The 2004 season saw Georgia sweep Georgia Tech in Atlanta during a Super Regional to advance to the College World Series. In 2005, Stricklin was named head coach at Kent State where he remained until becoming Georgia’s coach in June of 2013. Coach Stricklin went 2-3 against Tech while at Kent State. As the Georgia coach, he’s 4-3 versus Tech.
Promotions For the Tennessee Series Thursday *First 1,000 fans receive a Josh Fields bobblehead. Fields was an All-American relief pitcher for Georgia and part of two College World Series teams including the 2008 CWS Finalists. Currently, he is a reliever for the Houston Astros. Saturday *Senior Day: Team will honor its senior student-athletes and managers pregame. *Fans can play catch in the outfield for 30 minutes after the game *Kids can run the bases after the game