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February 18, 2008

It's An Even Number Year, So Book Your Trip to Omaha

Baseball season starts Friday and it should be an exciting season for UGA baseball if this trend holds up:

2003 - no postseason
2004 - College World Series participant
2005 - no postseason
2006 - College World Series participant
2007 - no postseason

On paper, the Dawgs have the ability to get back to Omaha and uphold the trend, but the schedule is rough. The strength of the team is a veteran weekend pitching rotation of Stephen Dodson, Nathan Moreau, and Trevor Holder. All three have SEC starting experience and have shown they can pitch in the league. Jason Leaver and Nick Montgomery, if healthy, should provide quality depth. Both can start and both can relieve.

The big hammer for the Georgia staff is Joshua Fields. After a dazzling 2006, Fields took a serious step back last year, blowing six saves. He pitched well at times, but was not the consistent lights out closer of 2006 and 2005. Look for Fields to be back to his usual dominant form this season. Baseball America named Fields to their preseason All-American team, even if it was the third team. Plus, it sounds like Fields will get some at bats as a designated hitter this season.

The offense will be anchored by shortstop Gordon Beckham, a first-team preseason All-American. Beckham hit for power and average last year, belting 13 home runs, 19 doubles, and knocking in 51 runs. The steady Ryan Peisel and outfielder Matt Olson will back up Beckham at the plate.

There is also a mystery to keep your eye on this year, too. Texas transfer Michael Demperio will start at second base for the Dawgs. Demperio was a high school phenom who spurned a host of schools to sign with the Horns. His first season was a struggle though and he is now back home in Georgia. He was a heralded hitter in high school, but Demperio is also a great defensive player. He and Beckham should be fun to watch and make up one of the league's best defensive middle infields. The question is can he hit college pitching?

The schedule is a beast, especially early. This weekend, the Dawgs open at Foley Field against preseason #2 Arizona. Then, they play the Braves next week. Then they go to two-time defending national champion and preseason #7 Oregon State the next weekend. If we can come out of those two weekend series at 3-3, we'll be looking fine. Other nonconference games of note include Clemson and the Georgia Tech games. This is all before the SEC schedule which features conference preseason favorite Vanderbilt, South Carolina, and Ole Miss.

The Dawgs have the players to make it to the postseason. Our baseball team has been inconsistent for sure, but there are abundant promising signs at Foley Field. Rivals.com says we shouldn't stink too bad and our early signing period recruiting class was awesome. Like basketball, there is no reason that we can't be a consistent conference power, if not national power. Unlike basketball, though, the baseball team should make it to the postseason this year.

Quinton

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Forgot about 2002 college world series appearance. Keppinger was the lone bright spot against Mark Prior and USC in the first game.

Anonymous said...

It was 2001 anon.

I've been to three of the team's intrasquad games. The new 2B is unbelievably fast. He roped a triple down the left field line this past friday, and got from home to second faster than any player i've ever seen.

Will said...

Yep. They could make the post-season in consecutive years when they still allowed beer on Kudzu hill.

ubiquitous ga alum said...

Maybe this a "blog" jack, but this statement made me think ...

"Like basketball, there is no reason that we can't be a consistent conference power, if not national power. Unlike basketball, though, the baseball team should make it to the postseason this year."

Is men's basketball the least competive sport at UGA? I think we're average in track and field, but I don't think we outright stink. Women's b-ball is down this year, but that is not the norm for them.

[Note: I looked over the highest scores for men's track & field. We look to be about average. Interestingly, Geno Atkins has the 8th best shot-put distnace in the conference this year. I guess tossing Teablow around was good practice ... :)

Anonymous said...

There is one thing about the diamond dawgs...we always start slow and get better in time. I think if we do that this year we could find ourselves in a bigger hole than we can jump out of. Go build a mountain to be proud of boys and not a hole to hide in. Go DAWGS!!!

 
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