The Georgia baseball team finds itself in a tough position.
The Bulldogs don’t want to put too much pressure on themselves to produce instant results. But they can’t afford to let too many more games slip away.
Georgia carries a five-game losing streak, including its first three league games, into this weekend’s Southeastern Conference series and looks to at least plug some leaks as it hosts Alabama.
“This is very critical,” Georgia shortstop Kyle Farmer said. “Going 0-3 in the opening series is definitely not the way you want to start out. We have an opportunity to win two, maybe three games this weekend. We don’t need to put too much pressure on ourselves but we need to have that sense of urgency and be hungry for a win. It’s time. We can’t wait around any longer.”
Georgia (8-13, 0-3 in the SEC) hosts Alabama (13-9, 2-1) in a three-game weekend series starting at 7 p.m. tonight at Foley Field. Tonight’s projected starters are Georgia righthander Sean McLaughlin (3-1, 2.00 ERA) and Alabama righthander Charley Sullivan (1-1, 3.19). Saturdays’ game starts at 4 p.m. and Sunday’s game begins at 2 p.m.
“It’s huge,” Georgia catcher and designated hitter Brett DeLoach said of the series. “It’s always good to get something started and get some momentum going at home. But on the other hand, we’re rolling in on five-game skid. That’s got to stop. There’s a point in the season where you have to start winning. That’s our breaking point this weekend to get something going. We’ve got to stay positive and keep working hard. I’m confident about this team, I still am. We’re going to get things turned around. We’ve just got to believe in each other and go out there and do it.”
Georgia has lost six of its last seven games, including three in a row when it got swept in the SEC-opening weekend at Texas A&M last week. This could be a make-or-break weekend for the Bulldogs as they face Clemson at home on March 26 before heading to the road for five straight games — at Clemson on March 27, at No. 10 Kentucky on March 29, 30 and 31 and at Kennesaw State on April 2.
“It’s always critical with a fragile team, no question,” Georgia coach David Perno said. “At the same time, it’s a big-picture thing. It’s just 21 games, a third of your season and three conference games, so it’s still early. We’ll know a whole lot more in a couple of weeks. It’s getting really tough and the schedule is always challenging. But at the same time, we’ve got a good club. It’s not like we’re sitting here 8-13 and we’re not doing anything well. We’re pitching well at times. We have played great defense all year, or at least good defense. We’ve hit. We’ve shown times when we’re really potent offensively. We’ve got to maintain it and we’ve got to be a little more consistent.”
Georgia has played better in many areas the past week. But the Bulldogs have not won any games dating back to a 9-4 victory over Appalachian State on March 12.
“It’s now or never because going 0-6 in the SEC is pretty tough to come back from,” Farmer said. “We’re fighting to get to .500, too, which is what we need to reach our goal (NCAA Regionals). Our goal is always to win the SEC Tournament. But now our goal is just to win the day. We need to win the first game and everything else will take care of itself.”
Georgia held Texas A&M to six runs the first two games of the series. But the Bulldogs could only score two runs of their own and dropped Game 1 4-1 and Game 2 2-1 in 10 innings. Georgia’s pitching came apart in Game 3 as Texas A&M won 11-4 on Sunday. Furman scored seven more runs on Tuesday with a 7-5 victory.
“You can’t let the game get too overwhelming,” DeLoach said. “Once the game gets overwhelming to you, it’s going to get that much harder. If we’re down by three runs, you can’t expect to lead off an inning with a three-run bomb. You just can’t do that. You’ve got to take your single, get on base and let somebody else go up there and get a hit. We need to pass the rope to the next guy. You can’t do too much, play your game, keep it simple and not put too much pressure on yourself.”
Alabama at Georgia
WHEN: 7 p.m. on Friday; 4 p.m. on Saturday; 2 p.m. on Sunday.
WHERE: Foley Field.
RADIO: WRFC 960-AM.
VIDEO: CSS on Saturday; Premium portion of georgiadogs.com on Friday and Sunday.
RECORDS: Georgia is 8-13, 0-3 in the SEC; Alabama is 13-9, 2-1.
RANKINGS: Georgia is unranked; Alabama is unranked
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Friday: Georgia RHP Sean McLaughlin (3-1, 2.00) vs. Alabama RHP Charley Sullivan (1-1, 3.19).
Saturday: Georgia LHP Patrick Boling (1-2, 3.68) vs. Alabama LHP Jon Keller (2-2, 3.12).
Sunday: Georgia RHP Bryan Benzor (1-0, 6.35) vs. Alabama RHP Spencer Turnbull (1-1, 4.21.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Alabama: Center fielder Georgie Salem was SEC Freshman of the Week after batting .462 with six RBIs against Tennessee last weekend. … Brett Booth is batting .338 with two home runs and 17 RBIs. … Kyle Overstreet leads Alabama with 20 RBIs and is batting .219.
Georgia: Third baseman Curt Powell is batting .404 for the season. … Shortstop Kyle Farmer has a .354 average and leads Georgia with 22 RBIs. … Outfielder-pitcher Jared Walsh is batting .328 with one home run and 11 RBIs.
SERIES: Alabama leads 43-32 in games dating back to 1955.
LAST MEETING: Alabama beat Georgia in two of three games in Tuscaloosa to finish the 2012 regular season.
SEASON AT A GLANCE: Georgia has lost its last five and was swept in its first SEC series at Texas A&M last weekend. … Alabama has won five of its last six and took two of three against Tennessee last weekend.
NOTEWORTHY: Georgia and Auburn are the only SEC teams with winless league records. … Georgia allowed a combined six runs and 14 hits in the Friday and Saturday losses to Texas A&M. But the Bulldogs were lit up for 11 runs and 14 hits on Sunday. … Curt Powell has hit safely in 16 of the last 17 games. … Brett DeLoach hurt his thumb on Tuesday against Furman but is expected to play this weekend. … Bryan Benzor will make his his first career start on Sunday, replacing Luke Crumley in the weekend rotation. Crumley was 1-3 with a n 8.82 ERA in five starts. … Georgia has the highest ERA in the SEC at 5.00. … Alabama’s Brett booth has a nine-game hitting streak. … Alabama’s Ben Moore is fifth in the SEC with nine stolen bases. … Alabama has won seven of the last 10 meetings with Georgia. … Alabama is 7 of 7 in save opportunities this season.