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Arms Still Powering Diamond Dawgs

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Top-Ten Starting Pitching Provides Chance To Win Any Series

The pitching staff that one-hits a top-five offense together celebrates together
Kristin M. Bradshaw/UGA Sports Communications

If your fondest baseball memories include the Atlanta Braves pitching riches in the 1990s, this Georgia baseball team is right up your alley.

Georgia’s offense, led as of late by the likes of LJ Talley and Riley King, is very nicely complimented by one of the nation’s top cores of starting pitching. And with hurlers like that, the Diamond Dawgs have a chance to win every weekend series, regardless of the who is in the opposing dugout - including, as was seen last weekend, Vanderbilt.

Georgia is coming off of yet another series win, taking two of three from Vandy in a matchup of top-five ranked teams. Georgia’s now at 27-6 overall and 9-3 in the SEC, has its first series win against Vandy since 2008. The Diamond Dawgs are now ranked as high as No. 2 nationally.

Next for Georgia?

Redemption in Tuesday’s midweek clash against Georgia Tech, which snapped UGA’s winning streak in the series earlier this year in an 11-2 win in Atlanta. The Dawgs, namely the depth portion of their pitching staff, get a shot to redeem themselves. The game will be televised at 7 pm on the SEC Network.

After that, it’s a three-game series this weekend at Tennessee before hosting Clemson next Tuesday and Mizzou the following Thursday-Saturday.

The Bulldogs, who have not lost an SEC series so far, looking to keep pitching momentum up from a week in that it held the Commodores, one of the nation’s top offenses, well below their average of around right runs per game in holding Vandy to seven combined runs and a 1.29 batting average in the series.

Impressive as the weekend win was, it could have easily been a sweep. Georgia lost the opener on Friday, 3-2 in 11 innings after Vandy tied it on a pinch hit homer in the ninth and the Dawgs stranded runners in scoring position the final three innings. The loss wasted an outstanding Friday start, by Emerson Hancock who allowed a run on four hits through seven innings.

Less than 24 hours later, this Georgia team, as it has more than one time this year, showed its ability to bounce back. An LJ Talley homer and Randon Jernigan sac fly made it 2-1. In the fourth, a grand slam by the hot-hitting Riley King advanced the lead to 7-1. It was more than enough run support for Georgia starter CJ Smith who have up three hits in seven innings.

Cole Wilcox gave up a run and two hits through the game’s final two innings, a very good sign of the strength of the Dawgs pitching staff continuing to build up as the season goes on.

A combined one-hitter, led by starting pitcher and SEC Pitcher of the Week Tony Locey followed by Zac Kristofak pitching the final two innings secured a 3-1 win and series victory. With Locey, whose line included retiring 21 of 22 hitters, shutting the Commodores down, not much run support was needed. Enough came in the second inning on doubles by Chaney Rogers, and John Cable followed by a Jernigan single. King widen the lead in the sixth, scoring on a groundout by Talley.

By The Numbers

2.85: Georgia’s team ERA, good for eighth in the country.

.364: LJ Talley’s batting average

32: RBIs so far by Riley KIng

Six: Grand slams by Georgia this year, one shy of the school record.

Go Dawgs!