Georgia baseball coach Scott Stricklin returns to the dugout for the Bulldogs just in time for a marquee home series against No. 8-ranked South Carolina at Foley Field this weekend.
The No. 23 Bulldogs (17-7, 2-4 SEC) play host to the Gamecocks (17-6, 4-2 SEC) for the three-game set beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday.
Stricklin has missed the past eight games on account of COVID, his absence leading to a “weird” feeling around the team without him there to direct traffic.
Stricklin had intended to catch a flight last Saturday to coach Game Two and Game Three of the Texas A&M series, but his fever returned, sidelining him for a few more days. The UGA skipper observed practice from afar on Wednesday, looking on from the Press Club at Foley Field, before returning onto the diamond for Thursday’s practice.
“Just to be able to be at the field and walk around was therapeutic for me,” Stricklin said.
“To have to watch your team on TV, that’s probably the worst part of it. That is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, is to watch our team and not be able to be there and have any control at all. It was a challenge.”
Georgia is coming off a 2-0 victory over Clemson last Tuesday, in which eight Bulldog pitchers combined for the shutout.
Georgia’s two-game winning streak will be put to the test against South Carolina’s six-game win streak, which includes last week’s series sweep against No. 5 Florida.
UGA is expected to keep the starting rotation debuted for conference play intact: freshman Luke Wagner (3-2, 2.95 ERA) on Friday, senior Ryan Webb (2-0, 1.59 ERA) on Saturday, and sophomore Jonathon Cannon (1-1, 3.07 ERA) on Sunday.
The Bulldog pitchers will have to tread lightly around the power in the middle of the South Carolina lineup. Gamecock clean-up hitter Wes Clarke has a slugging percentage of .863 with 14 home runs.
The Bulldogs have a midweek bout with Georgia Southern and a three-game series with Vanderbilt on the horizon.
With Stricklin back to his perch in the dugout, players are looking for a return to normalcy—and a series win.
“I don’t know if [this weekend] is about urgency, more just about ‘Hey, let’s go out there, let’s play our best baseball, and let’s win a series.’” McAllister said. “I think once we just play to our maximum potential–because we really haven’t done that the first two SEC series–I think if we just go out there and win a series, we’re going to get on track.”
Georgia Baseball TV, Stream, Radio
Friday: 6:02 EST, TV: SECN+, Radio: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network, WRFC 960 AM (Athens)
Saturday: 2:02 EST, TV: SECN+, Radio: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network, WRFC 960 AM (Athens)
Sunday: 1:02 EST, TV: SECN+, Radio: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network, WRFC 960 AM (Athens)