ATHENS—-The 15th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs head to Gainesville, Fla., for an SEC series with the top-ranked Gators starting Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET. Friday and Sunday’s games will be available on SEC Network+, Saturday’s contest will be on the SEC Network. The entire series can be heard on the Bulldog Sports Network from IMG.
Here are a few notes on the Bulldogs (34-14, 15-9 SEC) and Gators (39-11, 18-6 SEC) as the league race hits the home stretch. The Gators have a three-game lead over Georgia with six to play. After this series, Georgia plays host to sixth-ranked Arkansas while Florida finishes at Mississippi State. Did You Know? The Bulldogs and Gators are the only two teams that have already clinched spots in the SEC Tournament.
*Georgia enters the Florida series on a four-game winning streak. This past Tuesday in the 16th annual Farmview Spring Classic, a benefit for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at SunTrust Park, Georgia posted a 3-1 win over Ga. Tech in front of a crowd of 17,741. The Bulldogs have won six in a row over Tech, the longest streak since a six-game stretch from 1985-87. Meanwhile, in Gainesville Tuesday, Florida) overcame an early 6-0 deficit to outslug South Florida 11-8. It was their largest comeback in eight years.
*Last week in the SEC, Georgia swept Missouri in Columbia, its first SEC road sweep since 2015 (Tennessee). Florida claimed another league series, winning two of three at Texas A&M. The Gators have yet to lose a weekend series this season. Georgia’s Adam Sasser is the current National and SEC Player of the Week while Florida’s Brady Singer is the reigning SEC Pitcher of the Week and projected first-round draft pick.
*This is the fifth year for Georgia’s Ike Cousins head baseball coach Scott Stricklin, and the Bulldogs have an RPI of No. 4 and are having their best season since 2009. Georgia is aiming to make its first NCAA Regional since 2011, while the team’s last College World Series appearance came in 2008 when the Bulldogs advanced to the CWS Finals. Did You Know? During the month of April, Georgia became the first SEC team to play an 11-game stretch against ranked opponents, and the Bulldogs went 5-6. Tuesday’s contest with Tech ended an eight-game swing against non-ranked teams and Georgia went 7-1. The Bulldogs are ranked as high as No. 9 this week and are 7-7 against top 25 opponents. Florida is a consensus No. 1 and 16-5 against top 25 opponents this year.
*Georgia’s last series win over Florida came in 2013 in Athens. The Gators have won five straight series over Georgia at McKethan Stadium since the Bulldogs swept them there in 2006. UF leads the all-time series 185-92-2 including a sweep in Athens last year. Did You Know? Coach Stricklin’s Kent State team eliminated No. 1 Florida at the 2012 CWS.
Sophomore Third Baseman/Close Aaron Schunk is dual-threat Bulldog, batting .314-2-32 and on the mound is 1-1, 2.49 ERA, 7 SV. He has started all 48 games at third base and in 15 appearances spanning 21.2 IP, he has 23 Ks and only 3 BB. He is 7-for-8 in save chances. Schunk is riding his second 16-game hitting streak this year after blasting a home run at SunTrust Park this past Tuesday. In this stretch, he is batting .368 (25-for-68, 12 RBI). In SEC games, Schunk is batting .291-1-12 and is 0-1 with a 2.77 ERA including 6-for-7 in save opportunities.
*Georgia’s other top hitters have been senior outfielder Keegan McGovern (.315-13-40), who is on the Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List, junior designated hitter Michael Curry (.321-8-43) and junior first baseman Adam Sasser (.338-8-39). Sasser has been the team’s leading hitter in SEC action at .381-5-24. He had a monster week in the Missouri series, batting .538 (7-for-13) with four homers and 10 RBI to earn National (Collegiate Baseball and NCBWA) and SEC Player of the Week honors. This past Tuesday, McGovern had a 35-game on-base streak end. Redshirt freshman catcher Mason Meadows is batting .355-2-10 in SEC action while sophomore Cam Shepherd (.281-1-10) has been exceptional in the field during SEC play, posting a .990 fielding percentage (only one error in 100 total chances).
*Georgia’s top starters on the mound have been senior Chase Adkins (5-0, 4.12 ERA, 12 starts, 63.1 IP, 52K) and freshman Emerson Hancock (6-3, 4.09 ERA, 12 starts, 66 IP, 67K, Opp. Batting Avg. 212). Along with the aforementioned Schunk, the bullpen stalwarts have been junior Kevin Smith (6-1, 3.55 ERA), sophomores Tony Locey (6-1, 3.95 ERA), Zac Kristofak (3-1, 2.62 ERA, 4 SV) and Will Proctor (3-2, 2.52 ERA, 2 SV). Smith returned to the rotation in the Missouri series in place of freshman Ryan Webb (1-5, 4.34 ERA) who has moved to the bullpen. The Bulldog bullpen has been a strength this year, going 16-7 with a 2.85 ERA, 15 saves and holding opponents to a .214 average.
Pitching Matchups: UGA at Florida
Fri. at 6:30 pm ET: Chase Adkins (5-0, 4.12 ERA), RHP, Sr. vs. Brady Singer (10-1, 2.33 ERA), RHP, Jr.
Sat. at 1 pm ET: Emerson Hancock (6-3, 4.09 ERA), RHP, Fr. vs. Jackson Kowar (8-2, 2.80 ERA), RHP, Jr.
Sun. at 1 pm ET: Kevin Smith (6-1, 3.55 ERA), LHP, Jr. vs. Jack Leftwich (4-2, 3.96 ERA), RHP, Fr.
TV: Fri. & Sun.—SEC Network+ (Mick Hubert & Nick Belmonte); Sat.: SEC Network (Clay Matvick & Chris Burke)
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