2008/05/05 - This Week in Georgia Baseball

ATHENS - A look at Georgia's baseball slate for this week.

Eighth-ranked Georgia (31-15-1) holds a three-game lead in the Southeastern Conference with a 17-6-1 league mark over #13 Vanderbilt and these top two SEC teams will square off Friday in Nashville. The Commodores (34-13 overall, 14-9 SEC) swept Tennessee in Knoxville this past weekend and have a pair of midweek contests before the Bulldogs come to town in another key SEC series. The series will begin Friday at 7:06 p.m. ET (CSS-TV), Saturday's game will be at 3 p.m. ET and Sunday will be at 2 p.m. ET. The Bulldogs have won seven of a possible eight SEC series this year including at Arkansas, at Miss. State and at LSU. The Bulldogs are an SEC-best 15-8 against top 25 teams this year. This past weekend, Georgia defeated #25 Ole Miss two games to one. After Vanderbilit, Georgia closes out SEC action by playing host to Alabama May 15-17.

First up for Georgia this week, it will be round two with rival Georgia Tech (33-14) on Wednesday in Athens. First pitch will be at 7:06 p.m., and the game will be televised live by CSS. The 26th-ranked Yellow Jackets won the first meeting with the Bulldogs, posting a 9-4 win on the Tech campus. Then, on Tuesday, May 13th, the Bulldogs and Jackets will tangle at Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves. It will mark the sixth consecutive year the teams will square off in the "Spring Baseball Classic for Kids." Georgia holds a 4-1 edge in the series at Turner Field. All tickets are $10 with proceeds benefitting Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and its Brain and Spinal Cord Tumor Program. The game raises more than $200,000 annually for the not-for-profit pediatric healthcare system.

Georgia's 17-6-1 SEC mark is the best in school history at this point in the season. The school record for SEC wins is 20 set by the 2001 SEC Championship squad that went 20-10 under Ron Polk. Georgia's last SEC title came in 2004 under current head coach David Perno as that team went 19-11. Both the 2001 and 2004 teams advanced to the College World Series with the 2004 club finishing tied for third. Also, Perno led the 2006 Bulldogs (that finished second in the SEC) to the College World Series.

Georgia's pitching staff is a large reason why the Bulldogs are in first place in the SEC as they lead the league with a 3.84 ERA in SEC action. The Bulldogs have employed the same SEC rotation each week. It features juniors Trevor Holder (7-2, 2.84 ERA), Stephen Dodson (5-2, 3.88 ERA) and Nathan Moreau (2-2, 4.81 ERA). As the SEC Friday Night starter, Holder has been superb, going 5-1 with a 2.88 ERA in eight starts. The top relievers have been senior closer Joshua Fields (1-1, 0.37 ERA, SEC-leading 13 Saves) and sophomore Dean Weaver (3-1, 2.35 ERA, 1 Save). Also, Georgia is having a fine year defensively at .970 overall and an SEC-best .979 in league games. Offensively, Georgia is led by National Player of the Year candidate junior shortstop Gordon Beckham (.412 BA, 22 HRs, 52 RBI, .960 FLDG%). Beckham leads the nation in home runs, total bases and slugging percentage, and he leads the SEC in five offensive categories. In SEC action, Beckham is batting .402-12-28.

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