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SEC Tourney Could Decide Diamond Dawgs NCAA Fate

NCAA Baseball: Evansville at Georgia Athens Banner-Herald-USA TODAY NETWORK via Imagn Content Services, LLC

There are two types of teams that show up to the SEC Baseball Tournament each year at the Hoover Met.

There are teams solidly in the NCAA field, looking to continue playing well and perhaps enhance hopes of a national seed. And then there are teams badly needing a deep run into the tournament to earn an NCAA invite for the third time in a row.

Georgia falls in the latter of the two groups as the Diamond Dawgs begin the SEC Tournament on Tuesday against LSU at 5:30 p.m. EDT on the SEC Network.

Georgia is seeded eighth and LSU ninth, The contest amounts to a play-in game with the winner playing top-seeded Arkansas on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the double-elimination format of the tournament.

The path is simple here for Georgia. It very likely needs a deep run in Hoover to make it to postseason play. Georgia finds itself in its current predicament due to injuries in both the pitching staff and batting order. As a result, a total of ten freshmen have seen considerable time on the mound sooner than planned with two outfielders, Connor Tate and Riley King, two of the team’s most experienced and proven hitters, banged up. Tate is out for the SEC tournament with King listed as questionable.

Luke Wagner, who retired the first five batters he faced Thursday against Ole Miss before leaving the game with a minor injury, will get the start against LSU. Should Georgia advance, two freshmen, Liam Sullivan (1-1, 3.82 ERA) and Jaden Woods (3-1, 4.93) would be top candidates to start.

In the midst of all the setbacks, Georgia has a chance to halt its late-season swoon and make it to the NCAA tournament.

Since a late-April series win against Mizzou gave Georgia five wins in six games, the Diamond Dawgs have lost weekend series to Arkansas, Florida and Ole Miss. The past week didn’t help Georgia’s resume with the Rebels series loss coming the same week as a 7-6 loss to Georgia Tech in 14 innings.

The Dawgs have a resume that could argue their case to get in with a series win over top-ranked Vanderbilt, three wins over top-ranked teams as well as having avoided being swept all season long in a series. If there is solace in Georgia’s postseason hopes, it’s that D1Baseball.com has Georgia projected to get in as a No. 3 seed in the Charlotte regional. A handful of wins in Hoover, however, can take any doubt out of those hopes and make the Dawgs a surefire NCAA team.

Part of that weekend tenacity was at Arkansas, getting a win on the road, confidence that could prove big should Georgia advance past LSU.

Go Dawgs!