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News and information from the Athens region

NCAA Southwest Regional

WHERE: Foley Field

WHEN: Friday, 1pm

RECORDS: Georgia 39-15, Army 31-21

STARTING PITCHERS: TBA vs TBA

Television/Radio: ESPN+ (Kevin Fitzgerald and Bobby Maranda); Georgia Bulldog Radio Network (Jeff Dantzler and David Johnston)

Ten-day work stoppage

There will be 10 days between games when Georgia (39-15) faces Army (31-21), but Bulldog coach Wes Johnson is not annoying.

“We needed a little break. We had a couple of guys with bumps and bruises,” Johnson said after practice Thursday at Foley Field. “Teams are different. There are times when you have a younger team that maybe needs to keep participating in at-bats and see live at-bats. Those are teams that maybe getting knocked out of a conference tournament early isn't the best thing for.”

“But we're older, so I think this team needed a little breather and that served us well.”

The Bulldogs even went one step further.

Georgia has not held any intramural games to prepare for this weekend's games. Instead, the Bulldogs have held simulation games that put players in pressure situations that could arise this weekend.

“I didn't want to throw live to the hitters. I don't want to get into my thoughts on it, but we did a lot of work with simulation games where guys would jump in, run different counts, and practice different things that guys needed to work on,” Johnson said. “Again, if this team was young, you'd probably be a little more concerned about the time off. But when you look at the field, we're pretty old. These guys have been to the postseason before, so they know how to get their bodies and minds in shape.”

Charlie Goldstein in the active squad

Johnson did not say whether left-handed Charlie Goldstein would definitely be available to pitch this weekend.

But he is on the official 27-man roster that Johnson and the other coaches must submit to the NCAA.

Goldstein (4-1, 3.72) hasn't pitched for the Bulldogs in nearly a month after suffering from what Johnson described as “triceps cramps.”

Bulldogs enjoy being at home

Johnson knows the Bulldogs are fortunate to play at Foley Field until the College World Series, should they be lucky enough to advance.

“One of the things I like about the postseason in baseball is that things are just different at home,” Johnson said. “I've been fortunate in all my time in the SEC to never have played in a regional tournament away from home. I did that when I was at Dallas Baptist. But guys just feel more comfortable at home. They love our stadium, they love playing here, our fans have been great, so it's really a home-field advantage.”

Georgia has a 29-5 record in games played at Foley Field this year.

Johnson believes Georgia fans are ready to go.

“It’s going to rock,” Johnson said.

Thoughts on the early exit from the SEC tournament

Although he had no idea Georgia would be a No. 7 seed, Johnson said he didn't let that uncertainty factor into his Bulldogs' approach to their SEC Tournament game against LSU.

The Tigers rolled over the Bulldogs in the first round with a score of 9:1.

“We didn't know we were in the top eight at that point, but we knew we were in it. We knew some of our guys were banged up, so we didn't want to, let's put it this way, put all our chips on the line to win a game. We wanted to win, don't get me wrong, so don't get me wrong by any means,” Johnson said. “But we didn't want to bring the guys back after a short break and we didn't feel like we needed to.”

“At that point, even though it cost us something, it was much more important to us to be healthy than to win a few games.”

Johnson countered when reminded that Georgia enters the game on a three-game losing streak.

“Here we have different memories,” he said. “We remember that we won seven of our last ten league games. We built on that.”

Bulldogs don't look ahead to Georgia Tech

Johnson has never been one to look ahead. That is certainly true at Athens Regional.

When asked about his thoughts on the game against state rival Georgia Tech, Johnson said he doesn't care about the Yellow Jackets at this point.

“One thing you learn very quickly in this game: If you do that (look forward), you get beat,” Johnson said.

“The rivalry is there. It would be naive of me to think so, I don't know,” he said. “But we're focused on the Army and what we have to do to beat them.”

this and that

… Before this year, Georgia's last appearance in the NCAA Regionals was in 2022 at UNC, where the Bulldogs went 1-2. The Bulldogs have won four of six NCAA Regionals in Athens and have a record of 19-8. Georgia went 4-1 in 2001, 3-1 in 2004, 4-1 in 2006, 4-1 in 2008, 2-2 in 2018 and 2-2 in 2019. Georgia has a perfect record of 4-4 in advancing from the Super Regionals, reaching the CWS in 2001 (2-1), 2006 (2-1) and 2008 (2-1) in Athens and 2004 (2-0) in Atlanta.

… The Bulldogs offense is led by the 2024 SEC Player of the Year in Redshirt Sophomore All-America Charlie Condon. A potential top draft pick in 2024, he leads the NCAA with a .443 batting average, a school-record 35 home runs (2nd in SEC history and most in the BBCOR era), 219 total bases and a 1.043 slugging percentage. He has a .558 OB% (third nationally) with 50 walks (23 intentional) and 75 RBI. He had a stretch where he hit a home run in eight straight games, a school record, just one shy of the NCAA record. Condon has broken a school-record 60 career home runs in just 110 games.

… Senior Corey Collins is having a good year, going .360-18-52. He leads the country with a .584 on-base percentage and ranks ninth in the nation with 25 HBP, an SEC-leading and school record. Freshman Tre Phelps is hitting .357-9-33. The Bulldogs are third in the nation with a school-record 140 home runs. The team has also hit a school-record 11 grand slams this year. Georgia is third in the nation with a .599 slugging percentage and fifth with a .435 on-base percentage. The Bulldogs are batting .306 with a team ERA of 5.65 and a .974 fielding percentage.

… Georgia's best starting pitchers recently have been right-handed sophomores Leighton Finley (5-1, 4.18 ERA, 69 strikeouts, 24 walks, 64.2 innings pitched) and second-year right-hander Colton Smith (9-2, 4.40 ERA, 94 strikeouts, 13 walks, 61.1 innings pitched), while graduate left-hander Charlie Goldstein (4-1, 3.72 ERA, 43 strikeouts, 13 walks, 36.1 innings pitched) has pitched just 7.2 innings since defeating then-No. 5 Tennessee in Knoxville on March 29. His last appearance was on May 4 against No. 13 Vanderbilt, but he left the game after 2.2 scoreless innings due to triceps cramping. The best relievers were graduates Christian Mracna (3-2, 5.61 ERA, 1 save) and graduate Brian Zeldin (3-3, 5.59 ERA, 6 saves).

Regional Plan Athens

(All games on ESPN+)

Friday

Game 1: No. 1 Georgia (39-15) vs. No. 4 Army (31-21), 1:00 p.m.

Game 2: No. 2 UNC-Wilmington (39-19) vs. No. 3 Georgia Tech (31-23)

Saturday

Game 3: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 12:00

Game 4: Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2, 6pm

Sunday

Game 5: Loser Game 4 vs. Winner Game 3, 12:00

Games 6: Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5, 6pm

Monday

Game 7: (if necessary) Same teams as Game 6, TBA

Anna Harden

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