Georgia hopes hot hitting spills into series against No. 14 Arkansas

Baseball doesn’t allow much time to sulk about losses.

AJ Reynolds/Staff
Georgia's Daniel Nichols crosses the plate ahead of Georgia Tech's Zane Evans during the Bulldogs' 17-0 win on Tuesday at Turner Field in Atlanta.

Nor does it give teams bask in the glory of their wins.

So just a couple of days after Georgia played its best game of the year and beat in-state rival Georgia Tech by a historic margin, Southeastern Conference rival Arkansas comes to town with a whole different set of challenges.

“It’s huge,” Georgia third baseman Curt Powell said. “Having that game against Tech was a huge confidence boost for us and it couldn’t have come at a better time. We’re facing Arkansas and the No. 1 pitching staff in the country. That’s huge, coming off of a 23-hit game going in to face Arkansas.

“Everybody’s feeling really good at the plate. We’re going to need to have some big at-bats this weekend.”

Georgia (16-26, 4-14 SEC) will face No. 14 Arkansas (27-15, 11-7) in a three-game series starting at 7 p.m. today at Foley Field.

Game 1 projected starters are Georgia left-hander Patrick Boling (2-5, 4.37 ERA) against Arkansas right-hander Barrett Astin (2-2, 2.34).

“We’ve just got to keep hitting the ball,” Georgia freshman first baseman Daniel Nichols said. “When we went into Turner Field, we were all pumped up and excited to be there. It felt great. It felt good to finally get some things going our way.”

Georgia comes off of its best game of the year when it beat No. 20 Georgia Tech 17-0 on Tuesday at Turner Field. It was not only Georgia’s most lopsided win against the Yellow Jackets since 1899, but also set season highs in hits (23) and runs.

“We’ve just got to keep playing and keep believing,” Georgia coach David Perno said. “These kids have all year, no matter how tough it’s gotten, how many distractions or how many injuries, they’ve kept believing and showing up.

“Yeah, some days we don’t play that good but we’re always there mentally and that’s the most important part of it, especially this part of the season. You’ve got to clock in mentally.”

Arkansas not only leads the SEC in pitching, but leads the nation as well with a 1.81 team ERA and 6.36 hits allowed per nine innings. The Razorbacks’ three weekend starters combine to give up an average of 6.3 runs a series.

“This is huge, coming in against a team like Arkansas,” Powell said. “Look at Arkansas, they’ve got a team ERA of 1.8-something. That’s just unbelievable. It’s going to be a dog fight. Our pitchers are going to throw really well, so if we don’t give up many runs we won’t have to score many either.”

Georgia struggled on offense most of the season and are tied for 11th in the SEC in runs scored.

Georgia put in a different hitting approach before the Georgia Tech game and it paid off.

The Bulldogs focused on working deep into counts and hitting toward the opposite field.

Freshman Daniel Nichols was 1-for-10 against Vanderbilt last weekend but had two hits and two RBIs against Georgia Tech.

“We’re out there trying to hit the ball the other way,” Nichols said. “We’re trying to stay on our legs and drive the ball into the gaps. We’re trying to get back to what we were doing in the fall and get back to squaring balls up and seeing good pitches to hit.”

 

Arkansas at Georgia

When: 7 p.m. on Friday; Noon on Saturday; 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Where: Foley Field.

Radio: WRFC 960-AM.

TV: SPSO on Saturday, CSS on Sunday.

Records: Georgia is 16-26, 4-14 in the SEC; Arkansas is 27-15, 11-7.

Rankings: Georgia is unranked; Arkansas is No. 14.

Probable starting pitchers:

Friday: Georgia LHP Patrick Boling (2-5, 4.37) vs. Arkansas RHP Barrett Astin (2-2, 2.34).

Saturday: Georgia RHP Sean McLaughlin (4-4, 3.33) vs. Arkansas RHP Ryne Stanek (5-2, 1.63).

Sunday: Georgia RHP Bryan Benzor (3-2, 4.38) vs. Arkansas LHP Randall Fant (3-1, 2.33).

Players to watch:

Arkansas: Brian Anderson leads the team with a .317 average with two home runs and 25 RBIs. Joe Serrano is batting .308 with 13 RBIs. Tyler Spoon has a .306 average, three homers and a team-high 38 RBIs.

Georgia: Third baseman Curt Powell is batting a team-high .378 with 20 RBIs. … Shortstop Kyle Farmer is batting .299 with three home runs and a team-high 40 RBIs. … Outfielder Hunter Cole is batting .305 with three home runs and 28 RBIs.

Series: Arkansas leads 26-20.

Last meeting: Arkansas won two of three in Fayetteville, Ark., last season.

Season at a glance: Georgia dropped two of three at home against Vanderbilt last weekend but comes off a 17-0 midweek win against Georgia Tech. Arkansas took two of three from Texas A&M last weekend but had a midweek game against Oklahoma washed out by bad weather.

Noteworthy: Georgia pitcher/outfielder Jared Walsh is questionable with a sore shoulder. He will not start on the mound this weekend with Bryan Benzor moving back into the rotation. Benzor pitched three shutout innings and got the win against Georgia Tech on Tuesday. … Blake Dieterich has returned from a sore shoulder and pitched two shutout innings against Georgia Tech. … Georgia shortstop Kyle Farmer and Arkansas pitcher Ryne Stanek were on the United States national team that played in Cuba and Holland last summer. … Farmer hit two home runs off of Vanderbilt’s Tyler Beede last weekend. Beede had only allowed one home run all season going into the game. … Arkansas leads the nation with a 1.81 ERA and 6.36 hits allowed per nine innings. … Arkansas’ bullpen has a 9-5 record with 11 saves and a 1.38 ERA.

No. 13 Bulldogs fall to No. 7 Crimson Tide

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. | The No. 13 Georgia softball team dropped a 4-2 decision to No. 7 Alabama on Thursday. AJ Reynolds/StaffGeorgia's Daniel Nichols crosses the plate ahead of Georgia Tech's Zane Evans... Full Story

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