Foley Field – Athens, GA
Friday @ 6 PM CT
Saturday @ 7 PM CT (ESPNU)
Sunday @ 1 PM CT
Missouri (9-16, 2-7 SEC) @ Georgia (11-19, 1-8 SEC)
The two bottom teams in the Eastern Division of the SEC will go after one another this weekend when the Tigers visit the Georgia Bulldogs. Mizzou has lost four in a row, and look to turn that around against a struggling Georgia squad. The Bulldog’s 11-19 record is paired with a 7-11 mark at home.
Georgia posts a solid, consistent lineup until it gets to the bottom of it. Their 1-5 hitters are hitting a modest .322. After that it really drops off, as their bottom four hitters are hitting a combined .234 this season. Leadoff hitter Curt Powell headlines the top of the order. The First Team Preseason All-SEC third baseman hits for a .355 average and .407 OBP to lead the team, but we don’t see too much speed from him as he has only swiped one bag in 2013.
Coming after him is second baseman Nelson Ward. Ward and Powell have both seen time in the leadoff spot, so don’t be surprised if Ward is there for a game or two. Powell and Ward are both very similar hitters, posting numbers that are very similar.
One of Georgia’s power sources comes from sophomore Hunter Cole. Cole has 3 homeruns so far this season, but his power comes with its consequences. Leading the team with 28 K’s, he does strand more runners on base than your 3-hitter should.
When Cole fails to get the runs in, the team’s lead RBI man Kyle Farmer often helps him out. Farmer has impressed in 2013, as he has more RBIs (30) than he does games played (29). The key for him is that he puts the ball into play. With only 7 Ks, this year, Tiger defense will have to know that he will give them opportunities to make plays.
3B Curt Powell (R) .355
2B Nelson Ward (L) .333
LF Hunter Cole (R) .292
SS Kyle Farmer (R) .319
RF Jared Walsh (L) .309
DH Brett DeLoach (R) .237
1B J.T. Phillips (R) .211
C Zack Bowers (R) .246
CF D.J. Smith (R) .243
The ace of the Bulldog staff is freshman Sean McLaughlin. The righty has had a solid year so far, posting a 2.70 ERA, and has given up only four extra base hits in 40 innings of work. He strikes out batters at a moderate pace, but look for him to rely on his defense more than on getting batters to swing and miss.
Saturday starter will be southpaw Patrick Boling. Boling, unlike McLaughlin, strikes out batters at a high rate, having more Ks (44) than innings pitched (42.1). Boling is back this year after being redshirted in the 2012 season.
On Sunday, Bryan Benzor will likely get the ball for Georgia, and he has put up some shaky numbers so far this season. His .319 batting average against and a low strikeout rate shows that opposing hitters are putting the ball into play frequently, and not finding Bulldog defenders.
LHP Rob Zastryzny (1-5, 3.51 ERA) vs. RHP Sean McLaughlin (3-2, 2.70 ERA)
RHP Brett Graves (0-3, 3.12 ERA) vs. LHP Patrick Boling (2-3, 3.83 ERA)
RHP Alec Rash (2-1, 2.37 ERA) vs. RHP Bryan Benzor (1-2, 6.48 ERA)
Other SEC games this weekend:
(14) Arkansas @ Alabama
Auburn @ Texas A&M
Florida @ Mississippi State
(7) Kentucky @ (3) LSU
(2) Vanderbilt @ (17) Ole Miss
(15) South Carolina @ Tennessee
Rankings from Baseball America