ATHENS — Georgia baseball meets Florida with one eye on the injury report and the other on postseason implications starting Friday night at Foley Field.
The No. 9-ranked Bulldogs (34-12, 13-8) play the Gators (28-18, 9-12) at 7 p.m. in the first of a three-game series.
“Obviously it’s against our arch-rival, so it’s big for our players, coaching staff and fans,” UGA coach Scott Stricklin said. “And, where we are in the standings, it’s important for us to keep ourselves in the conversation to be a national seed and regional host.
“It’s big for Florida, too; they won a series last weekend, so all-around, it’s a big series.”
Georgia ace pitcher Emerson Hancock — third in the nation with a 1.04 ERA — will remain sidelined on account of a sore lat muscle that the Bulldogs are taking great care to rest. It’s paramount Hancock be at 100 percent for UGA’s postseason run.
“He’s really close, but at the end of the day it’s the right thing to do,” Stricklin said of sitting Hancock. “We don’t want this thing to linger. If we pitch him at 90 percent, then he’s 80 percent next weekend, and we need him at 100 percent down the stretch.”
Aaron Schunk, the Bulldogs’ third baseman, closer (11 saves) and leading hitter (.355), is doubtful to play Friday on account of a sore heel and is day-to-day.
“There’s a good chance you’ll see Aaron at some capacity this weekend, it’s just going to depend on how he feels,” Stricklin said. “It’ a day-to-day thing.”
Georgia hasn’t won an SEC series against Florida since 2013, and this three-game set marks the first time the Bulldogs have met the Gators as the higher ranked team since 2009.
UGA’s Tony Locey (7-1, 2.60) gets what figures to be a high-pressure start Friday, and Tim Elliott (5-3, 2.63) will be on the mound for the 2 p.m. Saturday game.
The Bulldogs haven’t announced who will start in Sunday’s nationally-televised ESPN2 tilt.
“We’ll use who’s available, we’re gong to try to win Friday and Saturday with everything we have, and Florida is in the same position,” Stricklin said. “This late in the year, a lot of people are banged up, so we’re in that spot.”
Georgia snapped a four-game losing steak on Tuesday with a 9-0 win over The Citadel in North August, S.C.
The series is sold out but students who present a valid UGA ID will be admitted free at the 3rd base gate until their held block is full.