Surprising news came out on Wednesday when Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin announced that senior LHP Ryan Webb would be shut down for the year with an elbow issue. Webb is the ace of the staff and losing him for the rest of the season will be a significant blow to the Bulldogs’ chances of making a postseason run.
At the same time, it gives two young pitchers a chance to step up and establish their worth as potential starters for years to come. 6-foot-6 left-handed freshman Liam Sullivan pitched a game he will remember for a lifetime, striking out 11 batters last Friday night against No. 1 ranked Arkansas.
“He obviously should feel good about his last ten innings in the league,” said Stricklin. “The key for him is getting ahead in the count and being able to command that fastball… just gotta get him off to a good quick start.”
Sullivan had a rough start to SEC play, which has partially skewed his ERA to 3.96. In his outing in the SEC opener against Tennessee on March 19, Sullivan allowed six earned runs and five walks in just a third of an inning.
Sullivan uses four pitches, a fastball, a breaking ball, a changeup and a slider. If he can effectively mix all of them he could potentially become a pitcher that opposing SEC lineups fear for years to come.
“We’ve got a lot of really good arms and a lot of really good young kids and we still don’t know who is coming back,” said Stricklin. “Liam, I think is suited to be a starter… which slot he’s in will depend on him. We’ve been very encouraged with what Liam has done here lately.”
Sullivan will again get the start on Friday when the Bulldogs travel to play No. 9 Florida on the road. Saturday will be switched up though with fellow freshman Jaden Woods getting the nod, which will be his first start in conference play.
Woods has primarily been a Sunday reliever, oftentimes throwing multiple innings. The injury to Webb will give Woods the chance to show what he can do against one of the strongest lineups in the country. In his last three appearances, Woods has pitched 12.2 innings, while only allowing three runs.
Georgia (28-18, 11-13) is currently projected to be a team on the “bubble” of the NCAA field of 64 teams. D1baseball.com has the Bulldogs as one of the last five teams in, which makes this weekend’s series that much more important for Georgia. It will not be easy, considering the Gators have won their last four SEC series’.
The three-game set kicks off on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on SEC Network+.