Fresh off a SEC-opening series win, the Diamond Dawgs will look for another one this weekend when South Carolina visits Foley Field for Georgia’s first home conference series of the year.
The Bulldogs have won three in a row and eight of their last nine after Tuesday’s 12-2 win over Georgia State. South Carolina (13-8, 1-2) lost two of three last weekend to Florida.
Friday’s game is set for a 7 p.m. first pitch with Saturday at 2 pm. And Sunday at 1 p.m. Each game will be televised on the SEC Network. Saturday’s game will also feature a pre-game ceremony honoring Chance Veazey and Jonathan Taylor, two former players that suffered spinal injuries in 2009 and 2011. A permanent display recognizing both of them will also be unveiled at Foley Field.
Here are five keys for Georgia this weekend.
Take Care Of The Lead
Getting a strong start last weekend against Alabama was not a problem for Georgia - the Bulldogs led early on in all three games before winning two games by a run and losing the other one in extra innings. It’ll be critical to not only score early against the Gamecocks but also plate runs as the game goes on as well.
Make hits count
Georgia’s batting order, led by Keegan McGovern’s .390 batting average and the .317 clip of Aaron Schunk who also has a 16-game hitting streak gets a stern test this weekend against the Gamecocks. USC’s pitchers are allowing an opposing batting average of .209. In short, when Georgia gets runners on base this weekend, it’ll be vital to drive those runners in to score and not strand them on base.
Conserve pitching on Friday
Georgia will roll with its same pitching rotation that has for the most part worked well the past two weekends - Chase Adkins (2-0, 3.12) on Friday, Emerson Hancock (2-1, 4.03) on Saturday and Ryan Webb (0-1, 3.79) on Sunday. If all three of those can give the Bulldogs six to seven quality innings, it should put Georgia in good shape in the late innings when the game is handed to the bullpen. Not going into extra innings on Friday would help as well. Last weekend’s 13-inning affair wore the Georgia bullpen down, putting a lot of strain on it going into Sunday. A fresh bullpen could be huge for Georgia going into Sunday, especially if the series win is at stake.
Last weekend was a mixed bag for Georgia’s bullpen. While Schunk, Will Proctor, Tony Locey and Zac Kristofak each were rather bright spots, the group as a whole still played a role in one lost lead and the advantage nearly being lost in two other games as well. This group is still trying to settle on its best options, but until it can find consistency, late innings will likely cause angst for Georgia fans.
Keep Up Momentum
By and large, Georgia played well last weekend, getting timely hitting and minimizing fielding errors. If the Bulldogs play sound, fundamental baseball this weekend, they have a good chance at a series win.