Georgia baseball seeks turnaround against No. 5 Arkansas

Credit: Kari Hodges

Credit: Kari Hodges

ATHENS – If there is going to be a turnaround for the Georgia baseball team, it probably needs to happen right now.

That’s a tall order as the Bulldogs (20-17, 4-11 SEC) are preparing to host No. 5 Arkansas in a three-game SEC series set to start Thursday night (7:02 p.m., SEC Network) at Foley Field. The Razorbacks (30-7, 11-4) represent the fourth consecutive top-10 opponent for Georgia in SEC play.

The Bulldogs went 1-2 last weekend on the road against No. 2 Florida. After plating seven runs in the ninth inning in Game 1 to win 13-11 on Friday night, Georgia was tied 1-1 in the ninth inning of Game 2 when the Gators won in a walk-off. It was the fifth one-run loss of the season for the Bulldogs.

On Tuesday, Georgia avenged a home loss to Clemson on April 11 with a 5-4 victory over the Tigers in which the final out was made on a throw-out at home plate by right fielder Josh Stinson and second baseman Mason LaPlante. Accordingly, the Bulldogs carry a never-die attitude into this weekend’s series.

“I thought we played pretty well (against Florida) and didn’t win the series, and that was disappointing,” coach Scott Stricklin said. “But to turn around and play really clean baseball (Tuesday) was good. And after a rough start on the mound, we really settled in and pitched really well.”

Only four SEC series remain after this week. The next one on the road against Ole Miss is the only one against an opponent that is not currently ranked.

The Bulldogs will have their hands full with Arkansas. The Razorbacks it atop the Western Division just swept Tennessee at home. However, they’re just 3-3 on the road this season.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s rotation will be without No. 1 starter Jaden Woods for the series. He is sitting out because of “arm fatigue,” according to Stricklin. The Bulldogs will go instead with freshman right-hander Kolten Smith (1-1, 4.80 ERA) in Game 1. Junior left-handers Charlie Goldstein (1-1, 5.67) and Liam Sullivan (3-2, 5.59) are set get the ball for the second and third games.

Arkansas has named only Thursday’s starter in junior lefty Hunter Hollan (6-1, 2.81). Arkansas is batting .291 as a team with 60 home runs, a .406 on-base percentage and is 33-for-44 in stolen-base attempts.

Georgia is batting .290 with 65 home runs, a .387 on-base percentage and is 19-for-22 in stolen-base attempts. Georgia’s leading hitter is Charlie Condon (.444-17-523), a national freshman-of-the-year candidate.