Georgia continues a seven-game road swing Friday when it begins a Southeastern Conference series against No. 7 Florida. First pitch in Gainesville is set for 6:32 p.m. ET and be available on the SEC Network+ and the Georgia Bulldog Sports Network.
The Bulldogs (28-18, 11-13 SEC) are looking to improve their seeding for the SEC Tournament that takes the top 12 teams in the league while also building their resume for the NCAA postseason. The Gators (33-15, 15-9 SEC) won a road series over Kentucky last weekend before dropping a midweek contest to Stetson. This will be Georgia’s first trip to the new $65-million, 7,000-seat Florida Ballpark at Alfred A. McKethan Field that was completed in June of 2020.
The Georgia-Florida series goes back to 1931 with the Gators holding a 187-96-2 edge. Last year, the teams were headed for a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown in Gainesville when the season ended due to the ongoing pandemic. In 2019, the Bulldogs swept the Gators in a three-game series in Athens while UF won the 2018 series in Gainesville 2-1. Georgia’s last series win in Gainesville came in 2006 with a three-games sweep.
Georgia’s SEC rotation for the Florida series will feature freshman LHP Liam Sullivan (1-1 3.96 ERA) on Friday and freshman LHP Jaden Woods (3-0, 4.00 ERA) on Saturday. Sophomore RHP Jonathan Cannon (2-2, 4.53) may pitch out of the bullpen or could start on Sunday. The Bulldogs announced Wednesday that ace senior LHP Ryan Webb (3-4, 3.32 ERA) will be out the rest of the season due to his elbow. Sullivan was impressive in his first career start last Friday at No. 1 Arkansas. He pitched six innings of one-run ball with 11 strikeouts but lost 3-0. He earned the start after providing four scoreless innings with five strikeouts against Auburn on May 1. Woods has been a vital piece of the bullpen after beginning the year in the rotation when Cannon and Webb were not ready due to illness. In SEC action, Woods is 3-0, 3.20 ERA and one save in nine outings. Georgia was hoping to get senior LHP C.J. Smith (0-2, 3.00 ERA) back this month, but last week it was announced that he is now shut down for the rest of the year due to arm soreness.
UGA-Florida Series Pitching Matchups:
Game 1: Fr. LHP Liam Sullivan (1-1, 3.96 ERA) vs. Tommy Mace (5-0, 4.43 ERA), Jr., RHP
Game 2: Fr. LHP Jaden Woods (3-0, 4.00 ERA) vs. #12 Hunter Barco (8-2, 4.26 ERA), Fr., LHP
Game 3: TBA vs. #35 Franco Aleman (1-2, 5.17 ERA), Jr., RHP
On Friday, Ben Anderson, Darryn Pasqua, C.J. Smith, Cole Tate and Connor Tate will be the latest Bulldogs to earn a UGA degree along with student assistant coach Nelson Ward, who played for the Bulldogs from 2012-14. They join Riley King, Logan Moody and Mason Meadows who graduated last year and returned to play in 2021. Hunter Cole and LJ Talley, who are playing professional baseball, have finished their degree requirements. They will graduate Friday too. Also of note, Chaney Rogers and Ryan Webb are slated to finish their degree this summer along with current professional Bulldogs in Michael Curry and Zac Kristofak.
Tate Twins Ignite Offense
Redshirt junior RF Connor Tate (.348-10-30) has a chance for the “UGA Triple Crown,” and he’s been one of the best hitters in the SEC too. Eight of his 10 home runs have come in league play where he is batting .333 with perfect fielding in 44 total chances. Tate has reached base safely in 26 straight games and has a nine-game hitting streak, both career-highs. Identical twin Cole Tate (.320-2-19), who has started 42 games at shortstop, has a 16-game on base streak and a seven-game hitting streak, both career highs. Cole hit .545 against the Razorbacks (6-for-11) with four runs scored and perfect fielding in 10 total chances. Both will graduate Friday.
Comments From SEC Series Preview Media Session, May 12, 2021
Ike Cousins Head Coach Scott Stricklin
On the UF series
“The goal is to go in and win this series. We’re playing a very good team that started the year at No. 1 and spent a lot of time there. They are really talented. We’ve got to be focused and ready to play. We played really well at Arkansas and obviously played really well at Vanderbilt, in hostile environments. We’re going to have to do the same to position ourselves for the postseason.”
On the Georgia rotation for the UF series
“We’re going to go with Liam Sullivan on Friday, and that’s where we are right now. Ryan Webb is out with an elbow issue. We anticipate Jonathan Cannon being in there, but we’re tinkering around with the possibility of him coming out of the bullpen. They (Florida) have used Jack Leftwich who has been a starter for them in the bullpen and it has worked. We’re looking at different options.”
On Ryan Webb’s injury and the team’s pitching challenges due to injuries this season
“You asked where we are with his (Ryan’s) injury, and it’s the full spectrum. We’re waiting for more details. When you got something like that, you take a picture and look at it, and people put their heads together and talk. He will be shut down for the remainder of our season, and what happens next is still up in the air.
When you look at our depth chart from the fall, four of our top five guys are not pitching for us, three of them really haven’t pitched all year (Garrett, Brown, Will Childers), well C.J. (Smith) pitched a little bit at the beginning of the season. It has been tough. I’m really proud of how our pitching staff has rallied to piece it together, to get it done and put us in a position to be in in the postseason.”
On today’s news of 100 percent capacity at Foley Field for the Ole Miss series next week
“I’m really excited. I found out last night as a heads up. We got to play in front of a packed house for three straight games at Arkansas, and it was really loud. It adds so much to the game. The fans that have been able to come to Foley have been great, but just to have a full house and people being loud, and I hope the weather cooperates, it’s exciting news. It’s going to be a big series too, so we’re going to need all the help we can get. Our players were pumped up when they heard about the news, and they’re going to be excited to play hopefully in front of sellout crowds for three days at Foley.”
Connor Tate, OF, RJr.
On the injuries to the pitching staff
“Ryan (Webb) talked to the team, and it motivated us to play for him and each other. We’re going to really try to play for all the injured guys. I have confidence in our pitching staff.”
On confidence of the team
“We’ve seen the best pitching, and knowing we can compete with teams that are ranked No. 1, No. 2 in the nation and be in every game gives us a lot of confidence.”
On the news of full capacity for the final home series at Foley Field
“It’s going to be like old times, and it gets you prepared for the game. The atmosphere will be really exciting to play in.”
Georgia Baseball Radio Links: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network (Announcer: Jeff Dantzler, David Johnston)
Friday Pregame Show at 6:10 p.m. ET: https://georgiadogs.com/watch/?Live=3954&type=Live
Saturday Pregame Show at 6:10 pm ET: https://georgiadogs.com/watch/?Live=3955&type=Live
Sunday Pregame Show at 11:40 am ET: https://georgiadogs.com/watch/?Live=3956&type=Live
All regular season Bulldog games will be available on the Georgia Bulldog Sports Network. Georgia home games along with SEC road games will be available on the SEC Network+ platform too. All Georgia baseball games will be carried locally on WRFC 960 AM as it will serve as the primary home for all broadcasts. In Atlanta, Bulldogs fans can tune in to WFOM 1230 AM. Fans can listen to every game online for free through the official website of the Bulldogs, georgiadogs.com and the Georgia Bulldogs app. Also, games will be available on TuneIn. Live Stats are available via the Bulldogs app too.
SEC Network TV Links: (Fri./Sun. Announcers: Mick Hubert, Nick Belmonte); Sun. (Clay Matvick, Todd Walker)
Friday at 6:32 p.m. ET on SECN+: https://www.espn.com/watch/player?id=fa5a3954-a1c1-4f09-b076-61b2a4a2cc3a
Saturday at 6:32 pm ET on SECN+: TBA
Sunday at 12:02 pm ET on SEC Network: https://www.espn.com/watch/player?id=5f3de7fb-e70f-4bb7-a385-10aea7974f74
Tickets For Final Regular Season Home Series: May 20-22 vs. Ole Miss
Tickets will be $10 and can be purchased online at this link: https://gado.gs/6zv
Group tickets of 10 or more will be $5 each and for those, please call the UGA Ticket Office at (706) 542-1231 or 877-542-1231.
Fans attending the Ole Miss series should be aware of a road closure near Foley Field. Due to the Butts-Mehre Expansion and Renovation construction project, East Rutherford Street is partially closed between the drive adjacent to the Rankin M. Smith Student-Athlete Academic Center and Pinecrest Drive. The sidewalk along the south side of East Rutherford Street will remain open.