Dawgs keep postseason hopes alive with series win over Gamecocks

Jon Barash

Georgia is very much in win-as-many-games-as-possible mode as the Diamond Dawgs head towards the finish of the 2014 regular season. This past weekend was a huge step towards making the postseason by winning two out of three games over No. 7 South Carolina.

After the successful weekend, the Bulldogs are now 23-23-1 and fighting for their postseason lives.

Georgia opened the series on Friday night with a 3-1 win over the Gamecocks, backed up by a strong performance from starting pitcher Ryan Lawlor. His complete-game, three-hit, and six-strikeout performance earned him SEC Pitcher of the Week honors. A solo homer from South Carolina standout catcher Grayson Greiner was the only thing holding Lawlor from picking up a shutout.

With that momentum, Georgia tried to take the next step towards attempting to sweep the perennial-powers from Columbia.

However, the combined efforts of a Greiner two-run homer and three more go-ahead runs coming in the seventh and eighth innings against the Dawgs’ bullpen spelled out a 5-2 loss for UGA.

Georgia first-year head coach Scott Stricklin says that losses like that are just part of the growing process for the program.

“We’ve got a young club,” Stricklin said after Saturday’s game. “I really liked the way our kids fought today and I thought we fought hard last night.”

Stricklin continued by saying the goal was to win the series over South Carolina. They entered Sunday’s game with the opportunity to do just that and succeeded. The Bulldogs closed out the weekend with a 5-3 win. Stricklin also made a move in the lineup that really paid off for the club. He decided to re-insert first baseman Daniel Nichols into the starting line up in the fifth spot of the batting order.

In Saturday’s game Nichols came off the bench to replace Heath Holder. However on Sunday, his entrance back into the starting lineup produced a second-inning double leading to him scoring Georgia’s first run of the game. That was followed up by a third-inning grand slam by Nichols for his second home run of the season.

Sunday’s win by Georgia cannot be talked about without mentioning the strong six innings on the mound from starting pitcher David Sosebee. In this outing, the redshirt sophomore right-hander surrendered two earned runs on four hits and four strikeouts. It is the first series win for Georgia over South Carolina since 2008.

“It’s been a little bit up and down,” Stricklin said about the season. “What we’ve tried to do is fight for nine innings and be as consistent as possible.

Twelve teams make it to the SEC Baseball tournament in Hoover, Ala. at the end of this month. As of right now, Auburn and Missouri are the only teams not on-line to make the trip to the postseason conference tournament. Georgia is currently (9-14) in SEC play and sits 0.5 games ahead of Auburn for the final spot in Hoover.

The Bulldogs travel to Oxford this coming weekend for a three-game series with the Ole Miss Rebels. This trip will not be easy for the Dawgs, with Ole Miss currently leading the SEC West by a game over Mississippi State. The following weekend, Georgia gets Kentucky inside Foley Field for the final regular season conference series. This very well could be for the final spot in the conference tourney.

Of course, one of the biggest games of the year is bracketed between these two conference series, with the annual Turner Field game against Georgia Tech coming up in between these two conference three game series. This game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. first pitch on May 13.

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