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Weekend Preview: Georgia

Tigers gears up for first SEC road trip

Georgia Athletics

LSU has completed a bountiful and very successful five-game home stand and roared out to a 3-0 start in conference play.

That’s good, because the road is about to get a lot harder. The Tigers will have their hands full this weekend when they face Georgia in Athens.

Times And Pitching Matchups

Game 1: 6:00 p.m. Friday, SEC Network+, 98.1 FM

LSU: Zack Hess, JR RHP (3.91 ERA, 25.1 IP, 1.59 K/BB [27/17])

UGA: Emerson Hancock, SO RHP (.58 ERA, 31 IP, 4.63 K/BB [37/8])

Game 2: 12:00 p.m. Saturday, SEC Network, 100.7 FM

LSU: Cole Henry, FR RHP (3.57 ERA, 17.2 IP, 2.13 K/BB [17/8])

UGA: C.J. Smith, SO LHP (2.81 ERA, 16 IP, 4.25 K/BB [17/4])

Game 3: 11:00 a.m., Sunday, SECN, 98.1

LSU: Eric Walker, SO RHP (5.71 ERA, 17.1 IP, 2.00 K/BB [12/6])

UGA: Tony Locey, JR RHP (2.17 ERA, 29 IP, 3.31 K/BB [43/13])

At A Glance

Record: 19-2

NC: 16-2

SEC: 3-0

RPI: 28

SOS: 262

RPI 50: 5-1

RPI 25: 2-1

We were in “wait and see” mode until this weekend because Georgia didn’t really overexert themselves in the first month of the season. Dayton, UMass...Lowell, Georgia Southern, and Presbyterian constituted their non-conference schedule. But last weekend they really came out with a bang, sweeping South Carolina in Columbia.

Because of a schedule that has allowed a 167-61 run differential, we’re going to see some pretty unsustainable number inflation. That isn’t to dismiss the Bulldogs at all, we saw last weekend that they are without a doubt a strong team so far. Good teams take care of business against lesser teams, and Georgia has done that to a T. We just don’t have a wide data set against higher quality teams.

At The Plate

Notables

LJ Talley: .392/.608/.505, 29 H, 2 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 15 RBI, .533 K/BB (6/15)

Riley King: .370/.531/.475, 30 H, 4 2B, 3 HR, 25 RBI, .80 K/BB (8/10)

Tucker Maxwell: .333/.667/.444, 20 H, 3 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 25 RBI, 2.43 K/BB (17/7)

John Cable: .324/.595/.519, 23 H, 4 2B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, .615 K/BB (8/13)

Georgia has a handful of players who can gap it and go for power, but they to skew on more of the contact side of things. LJ Talley is the most notable example, you don’t typically bat within 10 points of .400 by swinging for the fences every time (but he is a power threat). Talley is looking to break out a funk though, as he is just 2 for his last 14 dating back to the start of the South Carolina series.

Fortunately for the Dawgs, fellow infielder Riley King picked up the workload with a 5-15 showing against the Gamecocks and a 2-4 showing against Georgia State in the midweek. Maxwell Tucker also had a pretty good weekend, batting 4-9 with five RBI in two games in Columbia.

On The Mound

Non-Starting Notables

Tim Elliott: .39 ERA, .77 WHIP, 23 IP, 3.67 K/BB (22/6), .130 BAA

Zac Kristofak: 3.86 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 14 IP, 2.57 K.BB (18/7), .302 BAA

Justin Glover: 1.23 ERA, .70 WHIP, 7.1 IP, 4.00 K/BB (8/2), .125 BAA

Aaron Schunk: 0.00 ERA, .37 WHIP, 8.1 IP, 9.00 K/BB (9/1), .080 BAA, 7 SV

While it’s hard to get a bead on Georgia’s starters because of opponent quality concerns, I think a pretty big weakness for UGA is their bullpen. Take away their starters and there isn’t a lot of wow factor on the pitching staff.

Tim Elliott threw five innings in the midweek against Georgia State Tuesday, so I’m not sure how much we’ll see of him this weekend. If he does pitch this weekend it will probably only be for a burst Saturday.

Zac Kristofak appears to be the only guy in the bullpen Georgia uses for more than an inning with consistency, but he’s doesn’t appear to be untouchable.

UGA has two arms they obviously like to reserve for closing out games, Glover and Schunk. Schunk has locked up seven saves without a run allowed and has only given up two hits in what limited action he’s seen. It appears as if Glover sets him up when applicable. It’s very important that LSU gets to the bullpen early in the series as possible because that’s an exploitable weakness outside of those two.

Prediction

This is the deepest we’ve been into an LSU season without me having a solid idea where LSU is. Between that and not having a lot of applicable data points, this really is a toss-up to me.

I don’t like the pitching matchups, especially Hess on Friday night. But I think Walker continues his return to form on Sunday and the bats do juuuust enough Saturday. 2-1 LSU.