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Georgia Baseball will face LSU in the first round of the SEC Tournament Georgia Sports

No. 6 Georgia Baseball will face No. 11 LSU to open the 2024 SEC Baseball Tournament, the conference announced Saturday night. The game is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and is win or go home.

The ties to the Bulldogs and Tigers are strong, as head coach Wes Johnson won the College World Series last season as LSU's pitching coach. Johnson coached the Tigers to a 4.47 ERA, with three pitchers having an ERA below two. Johnson also helped recruit and develop the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft, Paul Skenes.

According to MLB.com, Skenes transferred to LSU so he could study under Johnson.

“Skenes ultimately decided to transfer to LSU because he felt they had the best pitching and hitting coach in the country,” Alex Stumpf wrote after the season. “This pitching coach, Wes Johnson, would help him take the next step to better reach his potential.”

Although Johnson was only with the Tigers for one season, his influence was largely felt throughout the program, whose season ended with them winning a trophy.

“I love him like a brother,” LSU head coach Jay Johnson said in June. “I can't imagine just spending 11 months with someone and bonding the way we did. I love working with him and he has had a big impact on our boys.”

When he accepted the job offer from Georgia, Johnson brought with him current first base coach Josh Simpson and athletic performance director Derek Groomer from the Tigers.

Now Johnson is making an impact in the Classic City. The Bulldogs finished 39-14 and 17-13 in conference play, their best record since 2019. Georgia's bats will also be in hot demand heading into Hoover, as the Bulldogs have scored at least 10 runs in seven of their last nine games.

Georgia's outstanding offense is combated by an LSU pitching team that ranks fifth in the conference ERA. The Tigers only scored double figures in seven of their 56 games this season.

LSU finished the game with an overall record of 36-20 but was 13-17 in conference play. Despite the down year, a late-season rebound has the Tigers moving forward into the postseason with momentum. LSU also won four of its last five conference series at the end of the season, including against Texas A&M.

As for the other team, the Bulldogs posted an eight-game winning streak in their final series of the season. After shutting out Florida in the opener, Georgia gave up 26 runs in the last two meetings, losing its first series at home.

The winner of Game 1 will face No. 3 Kentucky in double-elimination Wednesday morning, while the loser will watch from the stands. The Bulldogs began conference play and were defeated at Kentucky in three preseason games.

If Georgia wants to advance, it will also be familiar with the Wildcats. Hitting coach Will Coggin, who oversees an offense that ranks in the top five in the NCAA in home runs, slugging percentage and on-base percentage, was a member of the Kentucky coaching staff for four seasons before coming to Georgia.

Other teams in the top half of the bracket include No. 2 Arkansas, No. 7 Alabama and No. 10 South Carolina. The first day of the tournament ends with a head-to-head matchup between rivals No. 5 Mississippi State and No. 12 Ole Miss.

Georgia last faced LSU in the final series of the 2023 regular season, where the Tigers won the series 2-1 at Foley Field. The Bulldogs will look to flip the script in the SEC Tournament.

Anna Harden

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