Bulldogs Beat

Georgia baseball team looking for lineup consistency

ATHENS -- Through the first two weeks of the season, Georgia's weekend pitching staff of Robert Tyler, Heath Holder and Kevin Smith have given the Bulldogs very little to complain about.

Through 31-1/3 innings, they have combined to give up just six earned runs and have 43 strikeouts against just 10 walks.

"You have a good feeling whenever they step on the mound," catcher Aaron Aaron Rzucidlo said. "They give us a chance to win. All the hitters have to do is go out there and compete."

The offense, however, has been a different story. There have been the good games, like the 7-6 victory over Cincinnati on Feb. 27, but there have been some equally bad ones, like a 3-1 loss to South Alabama just the day before the Cincinnati win.

That inconsistency is what Georgia has to look to correct to be competitive.

"That's the biggest thing, just to have consistency from inning to inning," Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin said. "(Wednesday) night, I thought we were really consistent, we just couldn't consistently get that big hit. We had guys on base, we had 14 hits, and we hit a lot of balls hard, but at the end of the day, when we had runners in scoring position and had a chance to break that game open we didn't do it."

The game Stricklin references was the 5-3 win over Charleston Southern, which was preceded by a 10-3 win the night before. Those two consecutive offensive showings have the team looking more comfortable offensively going into the weekend series against Wright State.

"Last weekend we kind of struggled a little bit," freshman first baseman Patrick Sullivan said. "I think this weekend we're just trying to have better at bats, be ready for more fastballs. I think we did a good job (Wednesday) and Tuesday of just hunting fastballs and being on time."

Several of the Bulldogs' experienced hitters have started to find their groove, with Daniel Nichols going 3-for-3 on Wednesday to extend his hitting streak to four games and Skyler Weber adding to his own four-game hitting streak. As a whole, five of Georgia's nine usual starters now have batting averages above .300.

But they haven't necessarily been the problem. One of the biggest sources of inconsistency for Georgia has been the freshmen. Stricklin has used five different freshmen on a regular basis, with second baseman L.J. Talley, catcher Michael Curry and outfielder Logan Moody starting at least six games each.

Wednesday proved to be a promising sign for the freshmen, too, with Talley going 2-for-4 with a run scored and Curry going 3-for-4 with his second career home run and two RBI.

"The more and more those guys play, the less and less they're going to act like freshmen," Stricklin said. "Them getting at bats right now is big, but seeing them settle in a little bit and not panic so much. Freshmen have a tendency to rush and to panic and try to do too much. It's been encouraging to see the progress."