Conor Welton hit .500 in the series win over Arkansas last weekend.
May 5, 2011
ATHENS-----Georgia continues to navigate through the nation’s toughest rated slate with a road trip to Auburn next for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs (24-21, 13-8 SEC) have played an SEC-leading 27 games against ranked teams, and Georgia’s RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) this week was No. 12 according to the NCAA rankings. Georgia, led by coach David Perno now in his 10th season, has an SEC-high 13 wins against ranked opponents. Currently, Auburn has an RPI of No. 20.
Auburn (23-23, 9-12 SEC), under the direction of John Pawlowski, holds a 96-79 edge in the series history with Georgia dating back to 1950. The Tigers swept the Bulldogs last year in Athens (20-3, 4-3, 19-3), snapping Georgia’s eight-game winning streak in the series. Georgia’s last visit to the Plains came in 2006, and the Bulldogs posted a sweep (10-7, 4-3, 9-4).
Probable Starting Pitchers For The AU Series
Friday at 7 p.m. EDT
UGA: Alex Wood, LHP, So. (4-5, 4.23 ERA)
AU: Jon Luke Jacobs, RHP, Jr. (1-3, 3.32 ERA)
Saturday at 4 p.m. EDT
UGA: Michael Palazzone, RHP, Jr. (7-1, 2.38 ERA)
AU: Derek Varnadore, RHP, Jr. (4-2, 3.92 ERA)
Sunday at 2 p.m. EDT
UGA: Craig Gullickson, LHP, Jr. (3-2, 6.14 ERA)
Radio: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network from IMG College
Play-by-Play: Jeff Dantzler
Station: 960 AM-WRFC; 1230 AM-WFOM The Fan 2 (based in Marietta and covers Cobb, Gwinnett and Fulton county)
Bulldogs To Watch
Sophomore SS Kyle Farmer (.302-6-44) ranks among the SEC RBI leaders with 44. He has hit safely in 22 of the past 23 games. He is batting .376 during this stretch (35-for-93) with 27 RBI. Farmer is batting a team-leading .325-4-17 in SEC action.
Bulldog junior 2B Levi Hyams (.335-2-28) is doing a nice job in the leadoff spot since taking over that role with the injury to junior Johnathan Taylor. Hyams has hit safely in 14 of the past 15 games. In the past 15 games, Hyams is batting .349 (22-for-63) with 15 RBI.
Georgia features one of the league’s best starters and closers. Junior RHP Michael Palazzone (8-1, 2.14 ERA), also an Academic All-America candidate with a 3.52 GPA in Finance, has beaten five ranked teams this year including #4 Florida, #5 Florida State and most recently #14 Arkansas. He is 6-0 with a 1.74 ERA in league play and will start Saturday.
Redshirt-sophomore RHP Tyler Maloof notched his NCAA-leading 15th save in the Arkansas series, and he picked up his first win of the year in the series-clinching victory this past Sunday. Maloof is on the midseason list for the “Stopper of the Year” award. Maloof’s 15 saves this year ranks second in school history. The Georgia record is held by 2008 first round draft pick Joshua Fields (18 SV) who is currently in Double-A with the Seattle Mariners.
A couple of freshmen Bulldogs are contributing more down the stretch. Catcher Brandon Stephens (.296-0-7) and centerfielder Conor Welton (.299-0-6) are everyday players now. Stephens was limited in fall practice due to a broken ankle and is starting to find his groove at the plate. He is batting .357-0-4 in SEC action. For the past six games, Welton has been the starting centerfielder while junior Zach Cone (.285-2-23) has moved to left field. Welton, .289-0-5 in the SEC, gives the Bulldogs another left-handed hitter in the lineup. He hit .500 (4-for-8, 1BB, 3 SH) against #14 Arkansas.
The Johnathan Taylor Fund:
Georgia junior outfielder Johnathan Taylor (J.T.) sustained a neck injury March 6 in a collision with a teammate during a game against Florida State. On March 7, Taylor had neck surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital in Athens to stabilize his spine. On March 11, he was transferred to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta where he is currently a patient.
To honor J.T., the Bulldogs are wearing “JT-2” decals on the back of their batting helmets; “JT-2” is painted on the Foley Field wall in left center; they carry a framed picture of J.T. with them for their dugout; Zach Cone, Peter Verdin and Levi Hyams have worn Taylor’s #2 jersey in several games this season.
Fans can donate to the Johnathan Taylor Fund at each home game as Diamond Darlings will have a station set up outside the gates and will be in the stands collecting too. Also, an account has been set up at First American Bank and Trust (FAB). Donations can be mailed to the following account or dropped off at any FAB location.
First American Bank and Trust, c/o Johnathan Taylor Fund, P.O. Box 1688, Athens, Ga., 30603.
A website where individuals can send Johnathan messages and check for updates has been set up by the family. To send an online note to Johnathan and the family, please visit: