All season long, Georgia has been outplayed by competition that they should not be losing to. Yes, they’re very young, and some leeway comes with that. But based on pure talent alone, Georgia has no business losing two out of three games to Rider, followed by a loss to Mercer and barely out-dueling Presbyterian.
Here’s a look at the teams UGA has lost to so far this season:
# of Losses
|College of Charleston||
|9-3 / 15-6||Colonial||134||
|Mercer||2||6-5 / 4-3||Southern||92||14-4|
|Kennesaw State||1||5-4||Big South||163||8-8|
|Rider||2||11-4 / 8-3||MAAC||147||
A number of losses on that chart are inexcusable. First off, Georgia fields SEC talent. The only reason you might’ve heard any of those other conferences is because we are in the thick of March Madness. The mid-major opponents that Georgia’s lost to aren’t the cream of the crop in their own conference.
I understand it’s baseball where three bad pitches can cost you the entire game, but two losses 147th ranked Rider by seven and five runs? That’s a tough pill to swallow, even if the expectations have declined as the season has gone on.
In just about every one of Georgia’s series, they’ve opened poorly and then done just enough in the most recent game to regain confidence. The “flashes” need to last longer than they have, because as it stands the headline for UGA’s SEC preview is, “Like lambs to the slaughter, UGA takes the field against the SEC.”
The SEC currently possesses six of the top 25 teams in the country. Outside of Georgia’s SEC play, they face Clemson and Georgia Tech as well. Clemson ranks 13th, while Georgia Tech is flirting with but currently outside the top 25.
If they can barely handle their own against lesser talent, they will be throttled by teams within the best conference in college baseball.
“We’re gonna have to play better baseball, that’s for sure,” said manager Scott Stricklin about heading into SEC play after Tuesday’s 8-7 win over Presbyterian.
First on the slate is LSU tonight, tomorrow and Sunday in Baton Rouge. In addition to facing stiff competition from one of the best teams in the country, the environment in Alex Box Stadium is hostile compared Foley Field’s docile nature. The crowds are expected to near 12,000 fans, while Georgia struggles to attract more than one or two thousand on a good day.
“We’re going to try and go win a series. LSU is a top-ten team, they’re very very talented, well-coached and have a great crowd,” said Stricklin.
The expected pitching matchups:
- Game One: Andrew Gist (0-0, 2.20) vs. Alex Lange (3-1, 3.05)
- Game Two: Tony Locey (2-2, 7.47) vs. Jared Poche’ (4-0, 0.00)
- Game Three: Chase Adkins (2-0, 2.25) vs. Eric Walker (2-0, 2.14)
The Dawgs will have tough sledding against LSU’s rotation, which features some of the best pitchers in the country. Poche’ often carries no-hitters deep into contests, and expects to feast on a young Georgia lineup with the crowd energy behind him.
Speaking of energy, it’s been noticeably different lately in UGA’s dugout. Stricklin, who didn’t seem thrilled that he had to harp on his team for a lack of energy, said this on the change in energy the last couple of games:
“It’s huge. To me, that should be the standard. It shouldn’t be something we say after a game; ‘Hey, we had great energy today.’ We should have great energy every day.”
“We knew with the time change and the weather it wasn’t going to be a great crowd today. [Our message was] can you be excited, can you play with passion and energy. That’s the standard for us. You have to have that passion and energy no matter who you’re playing. It won’t be very hard to have passion and energy this weekend, that’s for sure.”
More than just energy, the Dawgs will need execution. Botching the ball around the infield on errors, wild pitches and free bases will destroy Georgia if it continues against the seventh-ranked Tigers.
Check back on Monday for a series recap.