Eighth-ranked Georgia, riding a six-game winning streak, opens Southeastern Conference action at No. 22 South Carolina Friday at 7 p.m. The entire series will be available on SEC Network+ and the Georgia Bulldog Sports Network.
The Bulldogs (15-2) have won the last five series with the Gamecocks (14-3), going 11-4 in that stretch under Ike Cousins head coach Scott Stricklin. The 2019 matchup will mark the first time in the past six seasons that Georgia is ranked at the time of the series. In Stricklin’s first two years at Georgia, South Carolina was ranked No. 7 when the teams met, then the Gamecocks were No. 2 in 2016, No. 30 in 2017 and neither team was in the top 30 last season. Overall, the Gamecocks own a 65-60 edge in the series history. The Bulldogs swept the Gamecocks last year in Athens.
Earlier this week, Georgia defeated Ga. State 6-3 in Atlanta while USC edged The Citadel 10-9 in Charleston. The Gamecock have won their last four games and are ranked as high as No. 18 (Collegiate Baseball). They are No. 22 in D1Baseball.com’s top 25 with Georgia checking in at No. 8.
Georgia’s pitching staff has a 2.46 ERA, and the starters have been exceptional. Bulldog starters have combined to go 13-1 with a 1.79 ERA, and the loss came 1-0 on an unearned run versus LIU Brooklyn on Feb. 26. The Bulldogs are batting .308 with 21 home runs, a .435 on base percentage, a .498 slugging percentage and are fielding .976.
Bulldog sophomore RHP Emerson Hancock ranks among the national leaders with a 4-0 mark and a 0.38 ERA. He has allowed one run in 24 innings with six walks and 25 strikeouts. He will start Friday’s SEC opener. Sophomore LHP/OF C.J. Smith (2-0, 0.00 ERA) goes in game two as he’s pitched 13 scoreless innings this season with 14 strikeouts. Junior RHP Tony Locey (3-0, 2.45 ERA), who will start game three, is coming off his best career start, tossing seven innings of one-hit ball with nine strikeouts. In 22 innings, Locey has 32 strikeouts and opponents are hitting just .114 against him.
Offensively, Georgia senior preseason All-SEC second baseman LJ Talley (.450-4-15) ranks among the SEC leaders in batting plus owns a .717 slugging percentage and a .547 on base percentage. He has been perfect in the field in 61 chances. He begins SEC play with a career-high 10-game hitting streak. Meanwhile preseason All-America third baseman/closer Aaron Schunk is 6-for-6 in save opportunities. He has not allowed a run in seven appearances, spanning 6.2 innings with no walks and six strikeouts. He has started all 17 games at third base and batted .333-4-14.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS: GEORGIA @ USC
G18 #17 Emerson Hancock, RHP, So. (4-0, 0.38) vs. #40 Wesley Sweatt, RHP, Fr. (1-0, 1.69)
G19 #5 C.J. Smith, LHP, So. (2-0, 0.00) vs. #20 Reid Morgan, RHP, Jr. (2-0, 1.84)
G20 #25 Tony Locey, RHP, Jr. (3-0, 2.45) vs. TBA
TV: SEC Network+ (Burch Antley & Kip Bouknight)
Fri. 7 pm
Sat. 4 pm
Sun. 1:30 pm
Radio: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network from IMG College (David Johnston & Jeff Dantzler)
Stations: 960 AM-WRFC and selected affiliates (check your local listings), also via the Georgia Bulldogs app and TuneIn app.
Additional Coverage on Twitter: @BaseballUGA