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Diamond Dogs Preview: This Weekend's Sweep Will be Brought to You by Kentucky

Just three games remain ere the worst season in Georgia baseball history mercifully reaches its conclusion, but the Diamond Dogs have the misfortune of facing the Kentucky Bat Cats, who are one of four 12-15 teams contending for the last two spots in the SEC tournament. The Blue and White arrive in Athens on Thursday fresh from a sweep of LSU and a Tuesday evening win over Murray State in Paducah.

The Bulldogs’ series with the Wildcats will mark the final homestand for four Georgia seniors from the league’s youngest team. The upperclassmen from the pitching staff who will see their last collegiate action are Justin Earls, Steve Esmonde, Alex McRee, and Jeff Walters, who have combined for fourteen starts, 86 appearances, and 151.2 innings this season. Earls’s 106 career appearances are the second-most in the program’s long history, eclipsed only by the 114 games in which Joshua Fields took the hill.

The Kentuckians, winners of six of their last eight, are second only to Auburn as the most prolific homer-hitting squad in the conference, while Georgia has the third-highest total of triples. Despite remaining in the SEC cellar with a league-worst .294 team batting average, the Red and Black have tallied a double-digit hit total in eight of their last eleven games.

Unfortunately, the Athenians have allowed nine or more runs eleven times in eighteen outings, surrendering 25-run outbursts twice during that span. Needless to say, the Diamond Dogs’ overall 8.63 ERA has them at twelfth in the conference . . . and is almost two full runs worse than the 6.73 earned run average posted by eleventh-place Mississippi State.

The injury-plagued Classic City Canines have been without Colby May for their last dozen games due to the sophomore infielder’s hampered hamstring. Freshman Todd Hankins and redshirt freshman Kevin Ruiz have filled in for May during his absence. Although Hankins has committed a team-worst eighteen errors in his rookie campaign, his versatility as an infielder has seen him make sixteen starts at second base, thirteen at third, and four at shortstop.

Over the course of the spring, Georgia has faced eight of the country’s top 23 teams, and the Diamond Dogs now face a Kentucky club that can solidify an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament by denying the Red and Black their first and only SEC series victory of the season.

Go ‘Dawgs!