After the Diamond Dogs escaped Baton Rouge with one more weekend win over LSU than they managed at home against Auburn, all of Bulldog Nation was relieved to know that the Georgia baseball team was done with Tiger teams, whether of the orange-clad or purple-garbed variety.
Wait . . . what’s that? We have a two-game midweek set with Clemson this week? Oh, for crying out loud. . . .
On the plus side, the Classic City Canines’ best stacks up fairly well against the Fort Hill Felines’ best:
Zach Cone has started all 27 games for the Red and Black, has the highest batting average among Bulldogs with more than 23 at-bats, is tied with Peter Verdin for the team lead in home runs, and has batted in more runs than any other Georgia player. Kyle Parker has started 26 of 28 games for the Orange and Purple, has the highest batting average among Tigers with more than seven at-bats, has hit more home runs than any other Clemson player, and trails only Jeff Schaus for the team lead in RIWWB.
Those, though, are just two players; how do the teams’ respective lineups stack up overall? Actually, they’re closer than you might think, at least in a couple of categories. The Diamond Dogs’ .294 team batting average trails the Country Gentlemen’s .302 average by eight points, while Georgia’s 60 doubles narrowly edge Clemson’s 58 doubles. Unfortunately, in the most important offensive category, the Tigers’ 246 runs far outpace the Red and Black’s SEC-worst 172 runs.
Clemson’s 20-8 record has earned the division-leading Tigers a No. 16 ranking from Baseball America, but their record is a bit deceptive. The Country Gentlemen opened the campaign with a 17-2 run before fading. The Jungaleers have gone 3-6 in their last nine outings, although that still beats the last-place Athenians’ 2-10 ledger in their last dozen contests. Seven of those ten losses were by a lone run.
Over the weekend, Clemson stranded 31 baserunners yet committed no errors. The Tigers will be looking to snap a four-game losing streak to Georgia and avoid becoming the victims of David Perno’s 300th career victory. Coach Perno’s career ledger currently stands at 299-225-1.
For tomorrow night’s game in Athens, the Country Gentlemen will start freshman Dominic Leone (1-0, 3.55 ERA) and the Diamond Dogs will counter with junior Eric Swegman (0-1, 8.44 ERA). Leone started for the Tigers in their March 31 contest against Coastal Carolina, while Swegman was roughed up in Georgia’s March 9 loss to Kennesaw State.
On Wednesday in Clemson, sophomore southpaw Chase Hawkins (0-1, 6.52 ERA) will take the hill for the Red and Black. Hawkins, who has been doing bullpen duty since his last start in Georgia’s March 3 loss to Alabama, will duel Tiger frosh Mike Kent (1-0, 2.45 ERA). Kent led the way for the Orange and Purple hurlers against Elon on March 24.