Series Preview: Tennessee Eying SEC Championship With Georgia Coming To Town

by -

Tennessee is back home at Lindsey Nelson Stadium to host SEC rival Georgia in its final home series of the season.

The Bulldogs are 32-16 (13-11 SEC) and fell out of the top 25 rankings after dropping three of their last four series entering the weekend.

Let’s take a look at Georgia ahead of the weekend series.

How The Bulldogs Got Here

Georgia has been one of the best teams in the SEC this season after narrowly missing the NCAA Tournament last season.

The Bulldogs were average in the pre-conference slate, dropping two-out-of-three to Georgia Tech, splitting midweek matchups with Georgia Southern and running the table the rest of the way.

Georgia started conference play hot, winning three of its first four series including a sweep of Florida. 

Since then, the Bulldogs have been on a slide losing three of their last four series including dropping two-out-of-three last weekend to Vanderbilt.

Projected Pitching Matchup

Tennessee is mixing up its weekend rotation this weekend with Chase Dollander making his first start since suffering an injury against Alabama. You can read more details on Tennessee’s rotation change here. Let’s take a look at the projected pitching matchups this weekend.

Junior Nolan Crisp will get the ball for the Bulldogs in the series opener Thursday night. The right-handed pitcher is 1-3 on the season with a 5.17 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. The Peach State native didn’t move into the weekend rotation until SEC play, but has been better against conference foes, posting a 4.75 ERA.

RHP Chase Dollander (6-0, 2.66 ERA) will start for Tennessee in the series opener.

Georgia Friday night starter Jonathan Cannon is one of the best pitchers in the SEC. Cannon missed a handful of starts earlier in the season due to injury but has been fantastic when available. The right-handed pitcher has a 9-1 record, 2.38 ERA and an impressive .76 WHIP.

Tennessee sophomore Blade Tidwell (1-1, 3.18 ERA) is getting the game two start for the Vols.

Sophomore Liam Sullivan will start Saturday’s series finale for Georgia. The left-handed pitcher has a 3-3 record and 4.91 ERA on the season. Sullivan has been slightly worse in conference play, posting a 5.73 ERA.

Tony Vitello has yet to name his Saturday starter but it will be either freshman Chase Burns or Drew Beam.

Like many SEC teams this season, Georgia has poor pitching depth. Just three Bulldogs pitchers have ERAs lower than 5.00 in conference play.

Georgia Bats To Know

Georgia boasts a balanced offense with a handful of strong power and contact bats.

Outfielder Connor Tate is the Bulldogs top bater, hitting .353 with 16 doubles, nine home runs and steam-high 49 RBIs.

Parks Harber is the only other Bulldog hitting over .300 on the season while also showing strong power. The sophomore third baseman has nine home runs and 43 RBI on the season.

There’s not an easy out in Georgia’s lineup with eight of its nine starters hitting over .280 on the season. The Bulldogs .289 team batting average is the fourth highest in the SEC.

Corey Collins is the Bulldogs’ home run leader, recording 10 long balls while hitting .283.

Opponents have stolen bases extremely effectively against Tennessee this season, but Georgia is one of the least aggressive SEC teams on the base paths this season, ranking 13th in stolen bases. Ben Anderson (.292 BA) leads the Bulldogs with nine stolen bases.

Clinching Numbers

Tennessee locked up its second consecutive SEC title last weekend with some help from rival Vanderbilt. 

The Vols are looking for more help from the Commodores this weekend as Tennessee closes in on its first SEC championship since 1995.

With Vanderbilt heading to Fayetteville, Tennessee needs a combination of two Vol wins and Arkansas losses to clinch a share of the conference title and a combination of three Vol wins and Arkansas losses to clinch the championship outright.

Game Times/How To Watch

Thursday — 7 p.m. ET first pitch broadcasted ESPNU.

Friday — 5:30 p.m. ET first pitch broadcasted on SEC Network.

Saturday — 1 p.m. ET first pitch streamed on SEC Network+.

Ryan Schumpert is a senior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since the moment he stepped on campus. He just completed a three-year stint with the Daily Beacon, the last two of which as the Sports Editor. Ryan also spent last three years at Volquest providing strong Tennessee baseball coverage of Tony Vitello's resurgent program. While the bulk of Ryan's responsibilities involved beat coverage and writing, he also recorded podcasts for both the Beacon and Volquest. Did we leave out the part about Ryan interning for the Smokies? Ryan's work ethic, versatility, and strong writing skills are but three of the reasons why Vol Nation will be hearing from Ryan for years to come.