CWS: Georgia Preview

UT's tour through the SEC continues vs. Georgia in a College World Series winner's bracket game Sunday at Rosenblatt. The Bulldogs (44-21) are the third straight SEC team the Horns will face in the NCAA Tournament.

East Division champs Georgia finished as conference co-champs, tied with Arkansas with a 19-11 league mark. The Diamond Dogs did not face the Razorbacks during the season and earned a 3-3 mark vs. other CWS participants LSU (1-2) and South Carolina (2-1). Vanderbilt, sent home by the Horns in the Super Regional round and the two teams only common opponent, took all four meetings from Georgia in '04.

After an 8-7 win over Arizona in their CWS opener, the Bulldogs are 7-3 in post-season (shutout losses to Vanderbilt and Florida in the SEC Tournament and a 10-9 loss to Clemson in the Athens Regional).

Sean Ruthven, a 6-4, 170 junior rightie, will take the hill for Georgia against Texas and its sophomore rightie Sam LeCure (9-4, 2.40 ERA). Ruthven has a 7-1 record on the season in 15 starts. He has a 2.94 ERA with 86 Ks and 32 walks in 85-2/3 innings with an opponent's batting average of .205. Bulldogs' head coach David Perno, though, typically doesn't rely on his starters going deep into games. Matter of fact, in the post-season, UGA's starters have made it into the sixth inning just three times (although the last time was by Ruthven in a seven inning, one hit, two earned run Super Regional clinching performance vs. Georgia Tech, but he also started three other games without pitching into the fifth). Junior rightie Johnny Dobbs (6-2, 3.40 ERA) is the most likely middle reliever out of the 'pen. Dobbs has 18 appearances with 41 Ks and a .209 opponent's batting average in 45 innings pitched. Also lookout for 6-1, 185-pound sophomore lefty Will Startup (7-2, 2.37 ERA). He leads the team in both ERA and saves (11), but he's not your typical closer. Startup is capable of, and has gone as long as, five innings in relief. He has 65 Ks, 22 walks and a .195 opponent's batting average in 76 innings of work.

The Bulldogs are a solid, balanced team on offense with the ability to hit for average (.301 as a team) and for production (all eight everyday players have 30-plus RBI). Senior SS and two-hole hitter Justin Holmes leads the team (among regular starters) with his .336 average. He's also the biggest threat to steal (18-24 SBs on the season). Six-five, 235-pound freshman 1B Josh Morris is a deep ball threat. Georgia's clean-up man totaled team highs in homers (16) and RBI (68) while batting .317. The rest of the Bulldogs line-up: leadoff man junior 3B Josh Smith (.321, 8 HRs), junior 2B Marshall Szabo (.300, 6 HRs), freshman RF Joey Side (.290, 5 HRs), junior C Clint Sammons (.284, 4 HRs), sophomore LF Bobby Felmy, sophomore DH Jason Jacobs (.290, 5 HRs) and freshman CF Jonathan Wyatt (.341). (Sophomore rightie Kyle Keen is also a possibility in center, but lefty Wyatt will probably get the call against LeCure.) Holmes, Morris, Side, Sammons and Jacobs are righties, Smith, Felmy and Wyatt are lefties and Szabo is a switch hitter.

Georgia owns a .971 fielding average as a team. Smith at third has the lowest fielding percentage among regulars at .935. Holmes at short has 15 errors on the season but still fielded .952.

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