Han Vance on Georgia baseball: Head coach Scott Stricklin has emphasized midweek wins to propel the Diamond Dawgs to a breakout season. As I have mentioned more than a few times this year, winning the biggest weekend series is generally what matters the most in college baseball. Weekend pitching somewhat saved during the week, while the younger arms get into the rotation more. The games are either tossups or meetings versus smaller programs.
Seeing an unusually stacked SEC on the slate, though, Stricklin decided to more consistently play his best players in midweek games all year with great results. Georgia is currently in the middle of a THU-SAT series in Co-Mo, Columbia, Missouri, where the Bulldogs were fortunate to have been scheduled to play so late in the season when the weather conditions are not as likely to be blustery. Upcoming is at #1 Florida and the season finale series at home in Foley Field versus #5 Arkansas. Between is a home should-be win over little Presbyterian. There was no midweek opponent this week, with the far trip to Mizzou and the series starting earlier than most; FRI-SUN is most common.
Going to point this out again, as baseball is divided into East and West divisions like football in the SEC. (Basketball is not.) Move Auburn to the SEC East and Mizzou to the SEC West and you solve a bunch of football scheduling headaches. Natural border opponents Missouri and Arkansas no longer have to meet as regular cross-divisional opponents, allowing the Boot series of LSU-Arkansas to slide back into its traditional Black Friday slot. The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry is always on and is the final divisional game for both Georgia and Auburn, with Aubie getting their regular out-of-division game in the finale Iron Bowl versus Bama. Auburn no longer faces LSU every year, but they would resume their rivalry with Florida. While Ol’ Georgia resumes the series featuring the best two tailgating cities in the world, Oxford, Mississippi, and Athens. The SEC East is strengthened as neither division can claim clear superiority, which strengthens the league nationally. Right now, the SEC East is a sad joke in the college football media. One move fixes all that, and it is simple geography.
All baseball season, I have looked at Georgia versus in-state competition as a gauge of the strength of the program. The Dawgs have gone an epic 7-1 versus Peach state foes and could have been a game better if the February 28th home game versus Georgia State had not been canceled – UGA beat State 12-2 later in Atlanta. The season-opening series saw the only defeat at all, a nice debut two games to one home conquest of Georgia Southern. The rest of these games have fallen midweek, with Kennesaw State and Georgia Tech each winless versus UGA in two tries.
The season series, and therefore “The Sweep” of the big three men’s sports, is already in the bag for Georgia. The Dawgs will finally battle the North Avenue Trade School in the professional stadium of the Atlanta Braves on this coming Tuesday, May 8th at 7 p.m. The Georgia vs Tech game was played annually at Turner Field before the construction of SunTrust Park, near the southern edge of Cobb County. This series has the highest attendance of any in college baseball and is a must-see for many Georgia fans in the Atlanta area. Again, The Sweep has been secured. The Diamond Dawgs are going for the sweep in baseball, which would give the Flagship a clean sweep over their only real in-state rival.
The game at SunTrust is actually the second neutral site game Georgia has played in, as the Bulldogs took out (#10) Clemson in a brand new minor league park in North Augusta, South Carolina, before beating those Tigers again in Athens. Hope to see y’all Tuesday night in Marietta, Georgia.