Georgia held their own in a weekend series with the defending national champions — and #1 nationally ranked — Florida Gators and came so close to taking the three-game set. Instead, they’ll settle for one win in Gainesville, Florida, as they improve to 16-11, officially clinching a winning conference record in the toughest baseball conference in the nation.
This is Georgia’s first winning conference record in seven years, a marked improvement for a club that has regularly finished with 7, 10, and 11 win campaigns over the last half-decade and has seemingly been in a downward spiral for an entire decade following their 2008 College World Series finals appearance. The victory nearly ensures Georgia’s presence in an NCAA regional, given their strength of schedule. Most fascinating to me is the fact that Georgia — despite facing highly ranked competition all year long — has yet to be swept in any conference series, something that has been a regular occurrence on multiple occasions each of the past few years. Taking one game from eighth-ranked Arkansas in the upcoming season finale would ensure that Georgia would have taken at least one game from all of their SEC regular season competition this year.
Trailing 3-0 in game one, Georgia would put up a five run sixth inning, which would include a grand slam, giving the Dawgs a 5-3 lead over the #1 Gators. UF would quickly knot it back up in the bottom half, before Georgia would score the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth. A costly error in the bottom half of the inning would allow the Gators to rally and score two runs to walkoff by a final score of 7-6.
Game two would be all Florida. UGA jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, but Florida would put up six in the sixth and never look back, taking the middle game, the series, and the SEC regular season title by a final of 9-3.
Georgia’s non-sweep streak was on the line in game three, however, dominant pitching from Kevin Smith would hold the Gators at bay as Georgia would score four unanswered after Florida struck first in the early going. Dawgs would take the finale by a final score of 4-1 and provide some momentum as Georgia heads home to face Arkansas.
Georgia currently sits 19 games over .500 overall at 35-16, with a 16-11 record in conference. Four of their five out-of-conference losses all came in one South Carolina road trip, which saw them get swept by the College of Charleston. The other came in the opening series with Georgia Southern. The Dawgs are are a whopping 21-5 at home and 12-11 on the road. Despite only taking one with Florida, Georgia appears to have the wind at their backs as they gear up to face another tough team to conclude their miracle season this weekend.
They’ve put up a strong fight in nearly every conference game they’ve played all year and appear to be headed toward a 2nd place finish in the SEC East. I firmly believe they will be able to compete with anyone in the SEC tournament and have a chance to take it all. But if they don’t, they’re surely heading to their first NCAA Regional since 2011. And then — all bets are off. Never expected I’d be saying this in May, but I’m thrilled to see what this club can do in the postseason. Let’s Go Dawgs!