ATHENS — The Georgia baseball team looks like a College World Series contender, and perhaps just as importantly, it sounds like one.
The No. 7-ranked Bulldogs (37-12, 16-8 SEC) proved their mettle this week with a historic sweep of Florida after an April 23 loss to Georgia Tech at SunTrust Park triggered a season-long four game losing streak.
“We have a lot veteran guys that don’t really get caught up in the moment,” said junior shortstop Cam Shepherd, who hit three home runs last week, two in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader sweep of the Gators.
“Mississippi State was not a great weekend for us, and then we came back and won all four (games) this week,” Shepherd said. “We turn the page when we need to and keep going.”
And the Bulldogs found pitching when they needed to, also, with freshman Cole Wilcox allowing just two hits and one run in a 4-1 win over Florida in the nightcap on Sunday.
Wilcox is a 6-foot-5, 232-pound native of Chickamauga, and Sunday was his first career SEC start. He’s now 2-0 with a 4.17 ERA in 41 innings with 48 strikeouts.
Riley King said seeing Wilcox step up is in line with what has been happening for the Bulldogs all season, as the team has overcome one injury after another.
“All the guys are getting reps … and that’s just building our depth,” said King, a redshirt sophomore from Lawrenceville. “It may look like we’re getting banged up, but we’re getting better because we have guys getting more experience, and all of those guys have stepped up.”
No doubt, it was redshirt freshman Connor Tate, from neighboring Oconee County coming up with the historic hit that ended Georgia’s 20-inning win over Clemson earlier this season.
Georgia was also playing without ace pitcher Emerson Hancock (lat muscle) and top hitter and closer Aaron Schunk (heel) against the Gators, but it didn’t seem to matter.
Coach Scott Stricklin has clearly set the tone for his program, and he’s proud of how his players have responded.
“I think it’s a resilient team, and it’s a tough team,” said Stricklin, who in his sixth season hopes to deliver the Bulldogs to what would be their first CWS appearance since 2008 and first national championship since 1990.
“This is a team that’s overcome a lot of adversity …. guys just keep stepping up.”
Georgia’s appearance in the NCAA tournament last season was the program’s first since 2011.
The Bulldogs return to action at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday a Jacksonville State before a three-game series at Auburn (29-18, 12-12) Friday through Sunday.
Georgia baseball’s Riley King