Georgia’s losing streak crossed paths with the Miami Heat’s winning streak, and brought good news to the beleaguered Bulldogs.
Georgia pitcher Patrick Boling delivers to the plate during a game against Appalachian State on March 13 at Foley Field. The Bulldogs ended their nine-game winning streak Wednesday night at Clemson.
Georgia’s nine-game skid came to an end by beating Clemson 5-3 on Wednesday, about 30 minutes before the Heat’s 27-game run of victories concluded as the Chicago Bulls won 101-97 in Chicago.
“It was awesome,” Georgia outfielder-pitcher Jared Walsh said. “We were saying before the game that we wanted to get our first win before the Miami Heat lose a game, and we did. We were pretty excited about that. It was a lot of fun and you know how it is, we wanted to make sure we got a W because it would have been a long seven hours on the bus on the way to Kentucky if we’d lost another one.”
Georgia (9-17, 0-6 Southeastern Conference) returns to SEC action with a weekend road trip to No. 8 Kentucky (19-5, 4-2). Today’s first pitch is at 6:30 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium in Lexington, Ky. Probable starters are Georgia right-hander Sean McLaughlin (3-2, 2.81 ERA) against Kentucky left-hander A.J. Reed (2-3, 2.94).
“The mood is definitely a lot better around the clubhouse, I can tell you that much,” Georgia pitcher Patrick Boling said. “People are creatures of habit, and baseball is definitely reflective of that. When you’re on a winning streak, everything just seems to roll the right way for you.
“But when you’re on a losing streak, man it’s tough. Things just bounce the wrong way. Hopefully this will get us over the hump and we can keep going with it.”
Georgia’s nine-game losing streak was its longest since 2003 and one loss short of the school record of 10. Georgia finally climbed out from under that cloud with a win against Clemson, and did it before what could have been a grim trip to Lexington.
“We’ve been a young team all season and it seems like we’re getting older every weekend,” Boling said. “That’s a really good thing. Baseball is a game of inches and we’ve had a chance in every game, for the most part. It seems like the older we get each weekend, hopefully it will start turning around.”
Georgia’s offense shook itself awake with three home runs against Clemson on Wednesday. The Bulldogs have struggled putting runs on the board all season, but got good news on that front as Kyle Farmer hit is first homer of the year. Hunter Cole and Walsh also had home runs for the Bulldogs.
“That was huge, that was the game,” Georgia coach David Perno said. “We didn’t have the situation where we left a lot of guys on and sometimes when you hit those home runs, that’s what happens. It just takes a lot of pressure off of you. Lately it seems like we’re having to get four or five hits to score one or two and we still can’t get over that hump of that big inning.”
Although Georgia has stopped its overall losing skid, it still sits at the bottom of the SEC without a league victory and heading to a series against a program that has won four of the last six against the Bulldogs.
“It’s just great for them (the team),” Perno said. “But I know how difficult from where we are to where we’re going is going to be. It’s great for the guys. They deserved it. They went up there and the majority of guys pitching are young guys and they did a great job of managing the innings and getting tough outs. It looks like we’re getting a little more confidence offensively.”
Georgia at Kentucky
When: 6:30 p.m. Eastern on Friday; 2 p.m. Eastern on Saturday; 1 p.m. Eastern on Sunday.
Where: Cliff Hagan Stadium, Lexington, Kentucky.
Radio: WRFC 960-AM.
Records: Georgia is 9-17, 0-6 in the Southeastern Conference; Kentucky is 19-5, 4-2.
Rankings: Georgia is unranked; Kentucky is No. 8.
Probable starting pitchers:
Friday: Georgia RHP Sean McLaughlin (3-2, 2.81) vs. Kentucky LHP A.J. Reed (2-3, 2.94).
Saturday: Georgia LHP Patrick Boling 91-3, 3.93) vs. Kentucky LHP Jerad Grundy (5-1, 1.99).
Sunday: Georgia RHP Bryan Benzor (1-1, 5.57) vs. Kentucky LHP Cory Littrell (3-0, 2.56).
Players to watch:
Kentucky: Second baseman J.T. Riddle is batting .252 with one home run and 17 RBIs. … Outfielder Austin Cousino is batting. 286 with four home runs and 16 RBIs. … Closer Trevor Gott is 2-0 with a 0.73 ERA and is 7-for-7 in save opportunities.
Georgia: Shortstop Kyle Farmer hit his first home run of the season on Wednesday and is batting .340 with 28 RBIs. … Hunter Cole went 5-for-9 with a home run and two RBIs after moving to the No. 2 hole against Clemson. … Jared Walsh is batting .321 with two home runs and 12 RBIs.
Series: Georgia leads 116-82-1.
Last meeting: Kentucky took two of three last year at Foley Field.
Season at a glance: Georgia broke a nine-game losing skid by beating Clemson 5-3 on Wednesday but has a six-game conference winless streak. Kentucky has won three straight and four of six in the SEC.
Noteworthy: Georgia is riding a six-game SEC losing streak, its longest since dropping 13 straight conference games in 2010. … Kyle Farmer is tied for the SEC lead with 10 doubles. … Jared Walsh a a home run, two RBIs and picked up a save in the two-game series against Clemson. … Nelson Ward is batting .360 and has hit leadoff all season. … Curt Powell went 0-for-7 batting in the No. 3 hole against Clemson. … Kentucky pitcher A.J. Reed is also batting .341 with six home runs and 28 RBIs. … Kentucky catcher Greg Fettes reached base four times in the Wildcats’ 8-2 win against Marshall. … Kentucky second baseman J.T. Riddle made his 90th straight start. … Kentucky leadoff hitter Max Kuhn has reached base safely in 23 of 24 games.