Georgia baseball swept by No. 16 South Carolina, daunting SEC schedule ahead

Georgia opened its SEC schedule against South Carolina at Foley Field in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Mar. 18, 2023. (Kari Hodges/UGAAA)
Kari Hodges

ATHENS – Georgia baseball could not handle the first of many SEC heavyweights it will face this season.

Brand-new uniforms and a new day didn’t change the outcome from Saturday’s doubleheader as No. 16 South Carolina swept the Bulldogs (13-7, 0-3 SEC) with a 12-1 win on Sunday.

Stricklin’s search for a reliable No. 3 starter will continue, as junior Charlie Goldstein surrendered five earned runs on three hits and six walks in 2.2 innings.

The Alpharetta product filled in for scheduled starter Kolten Smith, a victim of an illness that has swept through the team clubhouse.

Goldstein (7.80 ERA) and senior Nolan Crisp (8.76 ERA) are the only pitchers Stricklin has tried as the No. 3 starter this season.

Crisp stepped into the No. 3 spot out of necessity last season and finished the season with a 5.03 ERA as a starter.

Georgia will see Smith in SEC action soon, though, as Stricklin plans to start him for Thursday’s Game One at Auburn if Smith gets healthy in time.

UGA aims to continue its dominance of in-state competition when it faces Georgia State at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville.

The Bulldogs will then travel to Auburn for their first true road series starting at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Plainsman Park.

Beating unranked SEC teams and midweek non-conference opponents will be key as Georgia makes its case for an NCAA Tournament bid this season.

The odds seem stacked against the Bulldogs collecting lots of series wins with six of the country’s top seven-ranked teams on their SEC schedule.

That makes Georgia’s other three conference series - against the Auburn Tigers (13-5-1, 0-2 SEC), Kentucky and Missouri - even more important.

Avoiding sweeps from top 10 opponents and beating the few that remain unranked seem crucial if UGA wants a chance at finishing around .500 in conference play.

“Definitely, .500 is always the number you want to shoot for,” graduate center fielder Ben Anderson said. “We have to go win some series that a lot of people probably don’t think we’re going to win, and I think we have the team to do it.

“We’ve got to get our confidence going, we’ve got to turn the page and we’ve got to play at the level I know we can.”

The Bulldogs will try to regain their confidence at the expense of a 12-8 Panthers team on Tuesday.

Georgia has built a respectable nonconference resume to this point with series wins over Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech and a 10-8 defeat of SoCon favorite Wofford last Tuesday.

The Bulldogs host Southern next week and will face Clemson, Georgia State and Kennesaw State twice.

“All these in-state rivalries that we have, they’re all good teams,” Condon said. “So just being able to come back and get our feet back on the ground will be big this Tuesday.”

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