Diamond Dogs hit the road to play number one Arkansas

ATHENS ------For the second time this season, Georgia will face the nation’s top-ranked team in a Southeastern Conference series on the road. First pitch against No. 1 Arkansas Friday in Fayetteville is set for 7:32 p.m. ET and be available on the SEC Network+ and the Georgia Bulldog Sports Network.

The Bulldogs (27-16, 10-11 SEC) claimed a road series over then top-ranked Vanderbilt last month and now begin a stretch of seven straight road games. Up next, it’s the No. 1 Razorbacks who are 34-8 overall and lead the SEC at 15-6. They boast a 20-4 home mark and lead the nation with 76 home runs. In league play, the teams batting average (.266-Georgia, .263-Arkansas), home runs (Georgia-26, Arkansas-30) slugging percentage (both .434) and ERA (Georgia 4.99, Arkansas-4.88) are similar.

Last weekend, the Bulldogs dropped their first SEC series out of the past four as Auburn won two out of three including a 14-inning affair on Friday. The Razorbacks have won all seven of their league series this year, and most recently captured two of three games at LSU.

The Georgia-Arkansas series goes back to 1987 when the teams first met at the College World Series. The Razorbacks won an elimination game 5-4. UA leads the all-time series 34-24. Since joining the SEC in 1992, the teams have played 19 series, and UA leads 11-8. The last three-game series came in Athens in 2018, and Georgia won it two games to one. The last trip to Fayetteville came in 2017, and the home team swept the series. Georgia is 2-0 against UA at the SEC Tournament, the latest meeting coming in 2019 when then No. 7 Georgia beat No. 5 Arkansas 3-1.

Georgia’s SEC rotation for the Arkansas series will feature freshman LHP Liam Sullivan (1-0 4.74 ERA) making his first career start in the opener,  then sophomore RHP Jonathan Cannon (2-2, 4.19 ERA) and senior LHP Ryan Webb (3-3, 3.04 ERA). Webb and Cannon were instrumental in leading the Bulldogs to a series win over then top-ranked Vanderbilt. Against Auburn last weekend. Webb was nearly perfect, facing the minimum over six shutout innings in a 4-0 win but left after only 62 pitches due to back spasms. Cannon provided seven innings in a no decision. When Cannon left, the game was 3-all, and Auburn outlasted the Bulldogs in 14 innings. Sullivan provided a career-high four scoreless innings with five strikeouts against Auburn last Saturday.  Georgia was hoping to get senior LHP C.J. Smith (0-2, 3.00 ERA) back this month, but he’s now been shut down for the year.

Georgia redshirt junior RF Connor Tate (.351-10-30) is one of the leading hitters in the SEC. He has hit eight of his 10 home runs in league play where he is batting .337 with perfect fielding in 40 total chances. Tate has reached base safely in 23 straight games. Tate’s 59 hits this year is tied for second in the SEC. Redshirt junior INF Josh McAllister (.354-8-21), one of the top hitters in SEC action at .351, returned to the lineup last Saturday after missing a pair of games due to a nagging hamstring injury. It marked the third time this year that it has sidelined him. Freshman C Fernando Gonzalez (.292-2-12) batted .385 with a pair of doubles, a grand slam and five RBI in four games last week. His grand slam, the first by a Bulldog this year, provided a 4-0 win over Auburn last Thursday as Ryan Webb and Ben Harris combined on a two-hitter.

UGA-Arkansas Series Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Fr. LHP Liam Sullivan (1-0, 4.74 ERA) vs. Patrick Wicklander (3-1, 1.89 ERA), Jr., LHP

Game 2: So. RHP Jonathan Cannon (2-2, 4.19 ERA) vs. Peyton Pallette (1-2, 4.02 ERA), So., RHP

Game 3: Sr. LHP Ryan Webb (3-3, 3.04 ERA) vs. TBA

Comments From SEC Series Preview Media Session

Ike Cousins Head Coach Scott Stricklin

On the challenge of facing the No. 1 team again on the road

“It’s the same thing, you’re going on the road to play the No. 1 team again in a hostile environment and really no one outside of our team is giving us much of a shot. You look at the SEC numbers, and we’re very similar in a lot of ways. We believe we can go in there and win, and that’s the only way you can think. We’re going to challenge our kids, and we have enough older guys that know what’s at stake. It’s very similar to where we were about a month ago going up to Nashville. It’s us against the world. We’ll have to play very good baseball to win a series. Everybody in their lineup can hurt you; they have power arms, reminds me of our staff the last couple of years, and their closer (Kevin Kopps) is as good as anybody in the country. They are really talented with experienced hitters. We’re starting a stretch where we’ll play three teams that are either ranked No. 1 or have been No.1 at some point during the season plus our arch rival.”

On freshman Liam Sullivan getting the Friday night start

“We’re going to give Ryan (Webb) a couple more days of rest as a precaution, and he’ll start Sunday. He came out after 62 pitches against Auburn, going six innings and was on track to throw a complete game. We’re going to go with Liam Sullivan. He’s getting his first career start, and we know that’s a lot to ask of a freshman on the road. He pitched really well last weekend and has earned it. It will be all hands-on deck Friday night like our other bullpen games. We’ve had success doing that and had won four consecutive until we lost one last week. He gave us a chance to win against Auburn. We’re losing 7-0, and he comes in and throws four scoreless and is up to 93 miles per hour. Arkansas has a tough lineup, one through nine. When you’re a relief pitcher and you have one bad outing, the numbers are skewed a bit. His numbers are pretty good when you take out his one bad outing. We’ll have plenty of guys to back him up.”

Ben Anderson, CF, Jr.

On facing top-ranked Arkansas

“We know how good they are, they are ranked No. 1 in the country. For us, we have to keep the same mindset like when we went to Vanderbilt. They are a good hitting team with a talented pitching staff. We have to show up and compete and try to win a series. We’ve played well at home, and we don’t try to change anything on the road. We don’t try to make the moment bigger than it is and play like we should. No matter what your job is, you have to get it done depending on the situation and be ready.”

Georgia Baseball Radio Links: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network (Announcer: Jeff Dantzler, David Johnston) Friday Pregame Show at 7:10 p.m. ET:  https://georgiadogs.com/watch/?Live=3951&type=Live

Saturday Pregame Show at 6:40 pm ET: https://georgiadogs.com/watch/?Live=3952&type=Live

Sunday Pregame Show at 2:40 pm ET: https://georgiadogs.com/watch/?Live=3953&type=Live

All regular season Bulldog games will be available on the Georgia Bulldog Sports Network. Georgia home games along with SEC road games will be available on the SEC Network+ platform too. All Georgia baseball games will be carried locally on 960 the Ref-AM as it will serve as the primary home for all broadcasts. In Atlanta, Bulldogs fans can tune in to WFOM 1230 AM. Fans can listen to every game online for free through the official website of the Bulldogs, georgiadogs.com and the Georgia Bulldogs app. Also, games will be available on TuneIn. Live Stats are available via the Bulldogs app too.

SEC Network TV Links: (Fri./Sun. Announcers: Brett Dolan, Troy Eklund, ); Sat. (Mike Couzens, Todd Walker) Friday at 7:32 p.m. ET on SECN+:  https://www.espn.com/watch/player?id=2acb60a5-2a94-4a3c-914a-0d9098993539

Saturday at 7:02 pm ET on SEC Network: https://www.espn.com/watch/player?id=4485107b-1bea-455c-9d02-ce3b738d97c6

Sunday at 3:02 pm ET on SECN+: https://www.espn.com/watch/player?id=568c98a2-c90a-4a2f-96aa-044a1b516914

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