2008/05/12 - This Week in Georgia Baseball

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

Eighth-ranked Georgia (33-17-1) captured the 2008 Southeastern Conference baseball title this past Sunday after defeating defending league champion Vanderbilt in Nashville. The Bulldogs claimed the SEC title by virtue of having a four-game lead with only three games left to play. The Bulldogs clinched the top seed for the SEC Tournament and are 19-7-1 in league play. They have won eight of nine SEC series this year. The Vanderbilt series marked the third time that the Bulldogs dropped the opening game of an SEC road series and then came back to win it. The Bulldogs are an SEC-best 17-10 against top 25 teams this year. Georgia closes out the SEC regular season by playing host to Alabama (30-23, 14-13 SEC). The series will begin Thursday at 6:30 p.m. ET, Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m.

Georgia now has won six SEC baseball titles in school history (1933, 1953, 1954, 2001, 2004, 2008) and are the only SEC team to win three this decade. This is the second SEC title for head coach David Perno, and Georgia's 19-7-1 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 and advanced to the College World Series. Perno has led the Bulldogs to the CWS in 2004 and 2006. Georgia's 2008 SEC title is thanks in part to its pitching and defense. The Bulldogs have posted a league-best .980 fielding percentage in SEC action and rank among the leaders in ERA at 4.33. Offensively, Georgia is batting .286 in SEC games.

First up for Georgia this week, it will be round three with rival Georgia Tech (36-15) on Tuesday at Turner Field in Atlanta. First pitch will be at 7:06 p.m., and the game will be televised live by SportSouth. The 25h-ranked Yellow Jackets have won the first two meetings with the Bulldogs, posting a 9-4 win on the Tech campus and 11-1 victory in Athens last Wednesday. Tuesday's game at Turner Field 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 senior Nick Montgomery (1-1, 5.08 ERA) will make his first career start, and like it has done all year for midweek contests, the Bulldogs will approach the game as a staff outing. Montgomery has made 20 relief appearances for the Bulldogs this season, tallying 33.2 innings pitched.

The Bulldogs have employed the same SEC rotation each week. It features juniors Trevor Holder (7-3, 3.84 ERA), Stephen Dodson (5-2, 3.75 ERA) and Nathan Moreau (3-2, 4.94 ERA). As the SEC Friday Night starter, Holder has been superb, going 5-2 with a 4.18 ERA in nine starts. The top relievers have been senior closer Joshua Fields (1-1, 0.68 ERA, SEC-leading 15 Saves) and sophomores Dean Weaver (4-1, 2.48 ERA, 1 Save) and Alex McRee (5-1, 3.96 ERA). Offensively, Georgia is led by National Player of the Year candidate junior shortstop Gordon Beckham (.402 BA, 22 HRs, 55 RBI, .961 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 .390-12-31.

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