Georgia opens the SEC Tournament against South Carolina Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. ET at the Hoover Met in Hoover, Ala., and the Bulldogs welcome the return of junior left-hander Jaden Woods.
Woods (3-2, 5.59 ERA), who missed the last five SEC series with bicep tendonitis, will start for the Bulldogs (29-26, 11-19 SEC). Georgia is the 11th seed while the nationally ranked Gamecocks (38-17, 16-13 SEC) are the sixth seed. Woods was in line for a win over USC in the SEC opener on March 18 in Athens when the Gamecocks rallied for a 5-4 win. In that start, Woods struck out 11 in seven innings while allowing three runs on seven hits. Earlier this month, Woods earned a degree in Sport Management. He is among the team’s top professional prospects for the 2023 MLB Draft.
Tuesday’s action is single elimination and features eight teams as the top four squads earned first-round byes. Tuesday’s winners advance to the double-elimination part of the tournament. The Georgia-USC winner faces third seed LSU (42-13, 19-10 SEC) Wednesday at 10:30 am ET. USC swept Georgia in Athens to open SEC play in mid-March. It was part of a 1-9 league start for the Bulldogs who stormed back to go 10-10 over their final 20 SEC games to earn a spot in the 12-team field. The Gamecocks finished third in the Eastern Division. This past weekend, Georgia dropped a home series to fifth-ranked LSU while the Gamecocks lost a home series to No. 18 Tennessee. The USC-UT series concluded with a pair of seven-inning games Saturday.
SEC Tournament History: Georgia is 31-49 in 27 appearances with its best finish being second three times (1985, 1986 and 1989). The Bulldogs are 3-1 against the Gamecocks at the SEC Tournament. Under Ike Cousins head baseball coach Scott Stricklin, Georgia’s best showing came in 2019 when it reached the semifinals. Since 2014, the Bulldogs are 4-8 at this event in Hoover. Georgia will hold a one-hour practice at the Hoover Met Monday at 3:20 CT.
SCAR Tissue: Eight times this year (including seven SEC games), the Bulldogs have lost games after either being tied or leading going into the ninth. It started on Opening Day against Jacksonville State as the game was 5-5 going to the ninth and the Gamecocks scored three for a win. In the SEC opener against USC in Athens, the Bulldogs led 4-3 going to the ninth and lost 5-4. Then, the Gamecocks went on to run-rule the Bulldogs twice to post a sweep. Against Auburn, Georgia led 6-3 with two outs and nobody on in the ninth and lost 7-6 in 11 innings. It happened twice in Missouri walk-offs as the Bulldogs were swept by the Tigers in Columbia earlier this month.
However, Georgia has stunned the SEC co-champions this year too. At No. 2 Florida, the Bulldogs trailed10-6 in the ninth and won 13-11. Against No. 5 Arkansas in Athens, Georgia erased an 8-4 deficit in the ninth (grand slam by Connor Tate, walk-off home run by Parks Harber) with a 9-8 victory to sweep the Hogs.
Power At The Plate: Georgia is batting .285 with 101 home runs, a .382 OB% and is 34-for-40 in stolen base attempts. There have been only three Bulldog teams with 100+ home runs in a season with the top two marks being 109 in 2009 (62 games) and 102 in 1987 (63 games).
Redshirt freshman 1B/OF Charlie Condon is one of the leading hitters in the country and chasing the team’s Triple Crown, batting .393-25-67. Condon’s 25 home runs is an SEC and Georgia Freshman Record. Graduate Connor Tate ranks second on the club in batting at .384-16-54. Tate leads the SEC with 83 hits while Condon is third with 81. Parks Harber rounds out this trio of sluggers at .282-18-56. Condon and Tate have started all 55 games this year.
Tough Glove: Georgia ranks second in the SEC in fielding at .980 with 37 errors this season. The school record is .980 set in 2019 while the second best is .979 by the 2018 squad. Last year’s club posted a .978 mark which ranks third.
2023 SEC Baseball Tournament (All Times Are Central)
Tuesday-Sunday, May 23-28, Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, Hoover, Ala.
Schedule For Tuesday, May 23
Game 1 (10:30 a.m. ET) - #6 South Carolina vs. #11 Georgia [SEC Network]
Game 2 (TBD) - #7 Tennessee vs. #10 Texas A&M [SEC Network]
Game 3 (5:30 p.m. ET) - #8 Kentucky vs. #9 Alabama [SEC Network]
Game 4 (TBD) - #5 Auburn vs. #12 Missouri [SEC Network]