Georgia Bulldogs weekly baseball report

 Georgia first baseman Charlie Condon (24) warms up prior to the game against the Florida Gators at Foley Field on Tuesday, May 16, 2024, in Athens.
(Miguel Martinez / AJC)

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Georgia first baseman Charlie Condon (24) warms up prior to the game against the Florida Gators at Foley Field on Tuesday, May 16, 2024, in Athens. (Miguel Martinez / AJC)

ATHENS – It was not the way the Georgia Bulldogs envisioned entering the postseason, losing the final home series to their bitter rivals. At least they know they’ll have baseball life beyond this week as SEC Tournament play begins Tuesday in Hoover, Alabama.

After dropping two of three games to Florida at Foley Field this past weekend, the Bulldogs ended up with the No. 6 seed for the conference tournament. They will face 11th-seeded LSU in the single-elimination opening round Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m. at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. The winner will draw third-seeded Kentucky when second-round, double-elimination play begins on Wednesday, also at 10:30 a.m.

Here’s your Georgia baseball breakdown heading into the 15th week of the 2024 campaign:

Record: 39-14, 17-13 SEC

Streak: Lost 2

Rankings: No. 6 (RPI)

Last Week (1-2)

Thursday: Defeated Florida 9-4

Friday: Lost to Florida 7-4 (10)

Saturday: Lost to Florida 19-11

This Week

Tuesday: vs. LSU (36-20, 13-17 SEC), 10:30 a.m.

Wednesday: Georgia-LSU winner vs. No. 3 seed Kentucky (39-12, 22-8)

Week in review

Dropping the series to Florida represented a disappointing end to what had been a torrid finish to the regular season. Georgia won its ninth consecutive game and eighth in SEC play when it defeated the Gators 9-4 in the series opener on Thursday. But the good vibes didn’t last as the Bulldogs didn’t play well from then on and Florida exposed pitching and offensive deficiencies.

On Friday, Florida’s Luke Heyman collected three of his 10 RBI in the series on a 10th-inning home run off Bulldogs’ reliever Brian Zeldin to break a 4-4 tie. The extra-inning collapse ruined what had otherwise been another strong outing from Friday starter Leighton Finley.

Georgia went with sophomore Zach Harris for the Saturday rubber match. Staked to a 3-0 lead, Harris was roughed up in what ended as a 12-run fourth inning. Harris gave up four runs on a pair of homers and triple before having his day ended at 3.1 innings. Josh Roberge, Chandler Marsh and DJ Radtke each got turns trying stop the carnage. In the end, they surrendered nine hits and three walks in the worst inning of the season and second-worst in school history.

Georgia showed some fight by staving off two Florida’s run-rule-win opportunities in the late innings. The Bulldogs scored eight runs in the last three innings, but never seriously threatened a comeback.

“If anything, I think it’s a bit of a wake-up call,” said star slugger Charlie Condon, who hit his NCAA leading 35th home run late in the game. “We are obviously in a good spot, but we are not a finished product by any means. We’ve been playing good baseball recently, but any day you can go out there and give up a 12-spot, it’s about what you have left in the tank after that happens. We seemed to do a good job of showing some fight.”

Week ahead

Typically, you don’t want to tangle with the LSU Tigers in the SEC Baseball Tournament, but that’s who the Bulldogs drew for their first-round game Tuesday morning at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium (10:30 a.m. ET, SEC Network). LSU leads the league with 12 SEC Tournament titles, the most recent one coming in 2017.

But this is not a typical year for the Tigers. Coming off a national championship season in 2023, they needed a home-field sweep of Ole Miss last weekend to finish 36-20 (13-17 in conference play) and lock up the 11th seed.

Georgia coach Wes Johnson was pitching coach for the Tigers during their run to the title last year. So, he should have a strong familiarity with LSU’s roster. The Georgia-LSU winner will face SEC co-champion Kentucky, the No. 3 seed, Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. ET. The Wildcats (39-12, 22-8 SEC) and Tennessee (46-10, 22-8) finished as co-champions of the league, but the East-West division winners earn the top two seeds with UT holding the tiebreaker over the Wildcats. Kentucky swept the Bulldogs in the opening SEC series of the season in Lexington back in March.

The Bulldogs enter the conference tournament with one eye on the NCAA regionals the following week. They might need a win or two, however, to shore up their odds of hosting at Foley Field. At the same time, they’ll want to keep their pitching rotation set.

Johnson indicated that graduate left-hander Charlie Goldstein, who opened the season as the Bulldogs No. 1 starter, will be available after sitting out the last two weekends with an arm injury. However, knowing that an NCAA regional bid awaits Georgia on the other side, Johnson must make some tough decisions regarding how to dispatch his arms.

“If you win Tuesday, you’re going to be behind the eight-ball on Wednesday,” Johnson said. “Your pitching, obviously, won’t reset until Thursday. If you’re in a position where you don’t have to win those games, you’ve got to be careful with how you reset your pitching based on what you’ve got the next week. We’re going to be in a regional somewhere, so you want to make sure you’re putting yourself in the best position, whenever or wherever that is,” Georgia is making its 29th overall appearance in the SEC tourney, which takes all but the last two teams in the conference standings. Auburn and Missouri missed the cut this year.

The Bulldogs are 31-50 all time in the event. Their best finish has been second, which they’ve done three times (1985, ‘86, ‘89).

They said it

“They’ve got to come in and attack the strike zone. It’s all about belief and confidence, trusting your stuff and trusting you can come in and get the job done.” – coach Wes Johnson on the Bulldogs’ pitching staff.