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Are the Diamond Dogs on the Verge of Salvaging the 2011 Baseball Season?

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I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Diamond Dogs have managed to place themselves back in contention in the SEC baseball race. The Red and Black now sport a 6-3 conference ledger and find themselves a game out of first place in the league.

Unfortunately, there is a four-way tie for the top spot, as Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt all boast 7-2 ledgers in SEC play, so the Athenians are in sole possession of fifth place. Nevertheless, the top eight teams receive invitations to Hoover, so Georgia currently is in the thick of the race for a bid to the SEC Tournament.

The schedule sets up well for the Classic City Canines, who already have weathered a brutal slate. Of the Bulldogs’ seven remaining SEC series, the two toughest (against first-place Florida and Vanderbilt) are at home, and the Red and Black miss Western Division frontrunner Alabama (although Georgia beat the Crimson Tide in a neutral site contest that did not count in the conference standings).

Furthermore, three of the Diamond Dogs’ four remaining weekend road series are against Auburn, Kentucky, and Tennessee. That trio is tied for last place in the league at 2-7 against SEC competition.

Next weekend’s three-game set in Oxford will be critical. The Rebels stand at 4-5 in conference action, and they are tied for sixth place in the SEC with the selfsame Mississippi State squad that Georgia just swept in Athens. If the Red and Black can take two of three from Ole Miss on the road---and last year’s terrible Bulldog team played the Rebs pretty tough---the Classic City Canines can look forward to a second half to their SEC slate in which four of five series are against opponents currently in eighth place or worse in the conference standings.

Georgia is not an SEC championship contender, but Georgia is solidly in contention for a trip to Hoover, which could set the stage for an NCAA postseason berth. A solid fourth-place finish in an Eastern Division that is home to three of the top four teams in the country could get Georgia into the tourney field in baseball, just as it did in basketball . . . and this Bulldog squad even has a win over a first-place Alabama team to its credit!

Go ‘Dawgs!