ATHENS — Seventh-ranked Georgia returns to Foley Field Friday when it begins a three-game series with Lipscomb Friday at 5:02 p.m. The Saturday and Sunday games will start at 1:02 p.m.
The Bulldogs (10-3) posted a 5-2 road win over Ga. Southern this past Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Bisons have canceled their past six games due to COVID-19 related safe play protocol. Their last action was a 7-5 win over Creighton on Feb. 28.
Georgia is batting .297 with a .451 slugging percentage. The team ERA is 2.81, and the Bulldogs are fielding .982. Georgia is ranked as high as No. 7 in the Collegiate Baseball Top 30 poll this week. The Bisons are batting .304 with a .473 slugging percentage. Lipscomb’s team ERA is 4.05, and it is fielding .956.
Georgia’s weekend rotation will feature freshman LHP Luke Wagner (2-0, 1.35) on Friday followed by senior LHP Ryan Webb (1-0, 0.00) and sophomore RHP Jonathan Cannon (1-0, 0.00). Senior C.J. Smith will rest his arm this weekend. Webb and Cannon will be on pitch counts again this weekend as they are returning from an illness. A trio of Bulldogs enter the series with career-best hitting streaks: senior Chaney Rogers at seven games along with Randon Jernigan and Josh McAllister at six games apiece.
The Bisons are coached by Jeff Forehand who is in his 15th season at Lipscomb. He has led them to a pair of Atlantic Sun Conference Championships and the only two NCAA Tournament appearances in the program’s history (2008 and 2015). Lipscomb opened the 2008 NCAA Athens Regional with a 10-7 win over the Bulldogs, who rallied back and eventually advanced to the NCAA College World Series Finals. Georgia leads the all-time series with the Bison 4-1, including sweeping a three-game series here in 2016.
Friday: Luke Wagner (2-0, 1.35), LHP, Fr. vs. Ike Buxton (2-0, 0.00), RHP, RFr.
Saturday: Ryan Webb (1-0, 0.00), LHP, Sr. vs. Max Habegger (1-0, 1.50), LHP, Jr.
Sunday: Jonathan Cannon (1-0, 0.00), RHP, So. vs. Logan Van Treeck (1-0, 2.45), LHP, Fr.
Georgia’s Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach Scott Stricklin:
On the team being ready to go without their veteran pitchers in the early going this year...
"I think it raises the confidence level. The freshmen have done a great job. They have all done what we have asked them to do. All of these young kids have come in and done their job and I have been really happy with them."
On the depth of this year’s team...
“We had this talk with our team because we have so much depth and so many players. When you try as a coach to make everyone happy you end up making everyone upset. What you have to try and do is make sure that everyone is on the same page in that this is where we are, this is what we are doing. Guys have certain roles, and you don't have to love your role eventually, and that is when you have one-on-one meetings with players. We have had plenty of those. Guys want to play, they’re competitive. But we’ve got the right group of kids here who all want to win and help this team win. I think it is a good problem to have. I always tell them give me an issue making out that starting lineup, give me some problems making out that starting lineup, because who do I put in here? That is what we have.”
Jonathan Cannon, RHP, So.
on making his 2021 debut this past Tuesday...
“Oh yeah absolutely it was awesome. It was a big relief to get back on the mound after three weeks. Then just with the long time off after last season, it was just nice to get back out on the mound with the team and get the W.”
On how he feels with the depth in the bullpen
“I just think having that depth of freshmen and being able to get all that experience. I know last year being able to get that experience early in the year was really crucial for me. Even though it wasn’t a lot, even the first few outings mean so much, just to get the nerves out of the way. I think the fact that all the freshmen and just about everyone on our team has thrown just a little bit in a game situation; so, having that experience moving into SEC play where roles may change, and things may go crazy. Who knows what will happen when that starts? People will be comfortable in different situations and I think that will lead to more success for us as a team.”