ATHENS—–The 13th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs finish the regular season at Foley Field starting Thursday against No. 6 Arkansas with first pitch slated for 7:02 p.m. (SECN+). The entire series will be available on the Bulldog Sports Network from IMG.
At 35-16 overall, 16-11 in the SEC and with a No. 4 RPI according to the NCAA, No. 13 Georgia is in great shape to make its first NCAA Regional since 2011. Also, the Bulldogs are aiming to play host for the first time since 2008 when it was a No. 8 national seed and advanced to the College World Series Finals.
The Bulldogs have the third best league record in the SEC, behind the top-ranked and SEC champion Gators (20-7 SEC) and Western Division leader Arkansas (17-10 SEC). The Bulldogs and No. 5 Ole Miss are both 16-11 in the league with the Rebels owning the tiebreaker. Georgia is 21-5 at home this year, 12-11 on the road and 2-0 at neutral sites. Arkansas finished the regular season 30-3 at home while it is 5-11 on the road and 1-1 at neutral sites. Arkansas leads the all-time series 33-21 including winning the last five meetings and four of the last five series. Georgia’s last series win came in Athens in 2011 (2-1). The 2018 Razorbacks (36-15, 17-10 SEC) own a No. 5 RPI.
The Bulldogs are averaging 6.4 runs a game while batting .286 with a 3.66 ERA and a .979 fielding percentage. Arkansas scores 7.1 runs a game with a .304 batting average, a 3.43 ERA and a .973 fielding percentage. In SEC games, Georgia is 4th in batting (.280), 3rd in pitching (4.20) and 1st in fielding (.982). Arkansas ranks 1st in batting (.308), 2nd in ERA (4.11) and 7th in fielding (.974).
Georgia’s top hitters have been Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List senior OF Keegan McGovern (.326-14-44), junior DH Michael Curry(.323-8-43), junior 1B Adam Sasser (.320-8-39) and sophomore 3B/Closer Aaron Schunk (.316-2-32 and 1-1, 2.35 ERA, 8 Saves). Also, Schunk has a career-best 19-game hitting streak and seven of his eight saves this year have come in SEC action.
Georgia’s SEC rotation is senior RHP Chase Adkins (5-0, 4.46 ERA), freshman RHP Emerson Hancock (6-4, 4.82 ERA) and junior LHP Kevin Smith (7-1, 3.25 ERA). Smith led Georgia to a 4-1 win over top-ranked Florida this past Sunday on his 21stbirthday, going seven innings and allowing just one run on three hits. It was the first time this year in the SEC that the Bulldogs went into the final game of a series trying to avoid a sweep. Arkansas will go with juniors Blaine Knight (8-0, 2.87 ERA) and Kacey Murphy (6-4, 2.30 ERA) in the first two games and have not announced a starter for Saturday’s contest.
On Saturday, Georgia will honor its five seniors: pitcher Chase Adkins, pitcher Blake Cairnes, infielder Trey Logan, outfielder Keegan McGovern and infielder/outfielder Mitchell Webb. Logan, McGovern and Webb have been with the program since 2015, Cairnes since 2016 and Adkins arrived in 2017.
After the Arkansas series, Georgia will head to the 12-team SEC Tournament, slated for May 22-27 in Hoover, Ala. The top four seeds get a bye while the remaining eight teams will be in action starting Tuesday, the 22nd. Georgia’s seed, opponent and game time will be determined after the series with the Razorbacks.
The 2018 NCAA Championship field of 64 and bracket will be announced via selection show Monday, May 28 tentatively on ESPNU at noon ET. A total of 16 teams will be seeded this year.
Pitching Matchups: UGA vs. Arkansas
Thurs. at 7:02 pm ET: Chase Adkins (5-0, 4.46 ERA), RHP, Sr. vs. Blaine Knight (8-0, 2.87 ERA), RHP, Jr.
Fri. at 7:02 pm ET: Emerson Hancock (6-4, 4.82 ERA), RHP, Fr. vs. Kacey Murphy (6-4, 2.30 ERA), LHP, Jr.
Sat. at 12:02 pm ET: Kevin Smith (7-1, 3.25 ERA), LHP, Jr. vs. TBA
TV: Thurs. & Fri.—SEC Network+ (Matt Stewart & Jason Jacobs); Sat.: SEC Network (Dave Neal & Mike Rooney)
Radio: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network from IMG College (David Johnston & Jeff Dantzler)
Stations: 960 AM-WRFC and selected affiliates (check your local listings), also via the Georgia Bulldogs app and TuneIn app.
Additional Coverage on Twitter: @BaseballUGA