I have tried to temper my excitement at the Diamond Dogs' apparent resurgence, but a modicum of enthusiasm (albeit tempered with a dash of hardened cynicism regarding the fortunes of the Georgia baseball team) appears warranted . . . maybe.
The Red and Black are 10-11 in conference play, with nine games remaining on their S.E.C. slate. Georgia's remaining league outings are against South Carolina in Athens on May 5, 6, and 7, against Auburn at Auburn on May 12, 13, and 14, and against Kentucky in Athens on May 19, 20, and 21. The Southeastern Conference baseball tournament begins on May 25.
Are the Diamond Dogs S.E.C. tourney-bound? (Photograph courtesy University of Georgia Athletic Association.)
The Bulldogs currently have the league's seventh-best record in conference play, behind Alabama (15-6), Kentucky (13-8), Ole Miss (13-8), South Carolina (13-8), Arkansas (11-10), and Vanderbilt (11-10). Georgia's four-game winning streak is the second-best in the S.E.C., behind only the Rebels' astounding 10-game stretch without a loss.
Two-thirds of the Diamond Dogs' remaining conference games are against the Wildcats and the Gamecocks, who are tied for first place in the Eastern Division. Kentucky has the league's best overall record (34-11) and the Bat Cats have won nine of their last 10 outings. The Palmetto State Poultry are 32-12 against all other competitors but just 5-5 in their last 10 contests and 3-3 against other Eastern Division squads.
The Plainsmen also are 5-5 in their preceding 10 games, as well as being 5-7 against the S.E.C. East, 9-12 in league play, and 22-25 in general. Although Georgia must play at Auburn, the Tigers have lost more home games (11) than any other baseball team in the league except Florida---the squad the Bulldogs just swept on the road---and the Bulldogs are 8-4 in away games against conference competition.
Kentucky's 9-6 road record suggests that the Wildcats will be undaunted by the prospect of playing at Foley Field, but the Gamecocks' losing record outside of Columbia (5-6) offers some hope that home field advantage will work in Georgia's favor against South Carolina.
Kristin Davis, for one, will be stylishly attired for this weekend's crucial series with South Carolina . . . and she knows to show up early, too, for her complimentary Cinco de Mayo sombrero keychain and camouflage Georgia T-shirt.
With 10 wins, 11 losses, and nine games remaining in S.E.C. play, Georgia will need to beat Kentucky once, take two of three from South Carolina at home, and win two out of three road games against Auburn in order to conclude the campaign with a 15-15 ledger in league play.
Two of the three squads remaining on the Diamond Dogs' S.E.C. slate also happen to be two of the four best teams in the conference, so the Red and Black will have their work cut out for them over the next three weekends. Then again, some comfort may be taken in the fact that the Classic City Canines have gone 10-6 against top 25 teams this season.
While it certainly wouldn't hurt to have Arkansas and Vanderbilt lose a few, too, Georgia has a chance to make the conference tournament if the Bulldogs can continue their recent run of success. Keep hoping (or, if you're like me, keep doubting) and maybe . . . just maybe . . . the 2006 baseball season can end on the sort of hot streak on which it began.