2004 DIAMOND DOG SEASON NOTES
Players react after a dramatic, extra-inning win over Clemson in the NCAA Regional
Final Record: 45-23
T3rd at the College World Series
SEC Co-Champions (19-11 SEC Record)
Current National Ranking: #5 Collegiate Baseball; #6 Baseball America; (Final Rankings Due out June 28)
Georgia made its fourth College World Series (CWS) appearance in school history out of six NCAA Regional appearances. Georgia defeated #8 Arizona twice (8-7 and 3-1) and fell to national top seed and #2 Texas twice (9-3 and 7-6). Georgia's third place finish at the 2004 CWS was the second best in school history. The Bulldogs should end the year in the top five in the national rankings which would be second only to the 1990 NCAA champions that ranked number one at season's end.
Georgia's 45 wins in 2004 was the third most in school history, trailing the 2001 SEC Championship club that went 47-21 and the 1990 NCAA Champions (52-19). Georgia went 24-8 in its last 32 games in 2004 that included a record 12-game SEC winning streak that propelled the Bulldogs to a share of the SEC crown. Athens and UGA were named a host site for NCAA Regional play. This helped Georgia set new Foley Field attendance records, attracting 69,256 fans for the year (1,871 average). The Bulldogs went 3-1 with a victory over Middle Tennessee State and two wins over Clemson sending them to Atlanta to face #3 Ga. Tech in a Super Regional. Georgia defeated the Yellow Jackets 7-5 and 5-3 to advance to the CWS. In the post season, junior RHP Johnny Dobbs (6-2, 3.75) was 3-0 with a 3.52 ERA.
David Perno became the first Bulldog head coach in school history to win his CWS opener. Perno led his team to the NCAA Athens Regional and Atlanta Super Regional Championships on the road to Omaha. He guided the Bulldogs to an SEC Co-Championship and to the SEC Eastern Division title. Perno was named SEC co-Head Coach of the Year and CBI National Coach of the Year. The Bulldogs posted their first-ever sweeps at Florida and at Miss. State.
Georgia's defense turned 73 double plays for the year which ranked second best in school history behind the 1990 team who turned 85. Georgia's fielding percentage of .971 ranked second best in school history behind the 2003 club at .972. The pitching staff limited opponents to a .258 batting average, which was the best since 1977 (.255) and the third lowest in school history.
Bulldog sophomore reliever Will Startup (7-2, 2.22, 12 SV) was named first team All-SEC. Startup posted a team low 2.22 ERA and held opponents to an SEC best .193 batting average. He also led the team in saves, notching 12 of Georgia's school record 17 saves. The old mark was 16 by the 1993 staff. Startup was named the 2004 NCAA Athens Regional Most Outstanding Player. In the NCAA postseason, he went 2-0, 1.77 ERA, 4 SV in seven appearances (20.1 IP, 4BB, 18K).
Senior Paul Lubrano (5-4, 4.64) started a team-high 18 games and logged a season-high 95 innings. Sophomore Michael Hyle (8-2, 2.99) led the team in wins while junior Sean Ruthven (7-2, 3.41) was tops on the team in strikeouts with 91.
Senior shortstop Justin Holmes (.332-8-56) proved to be a valuable asset leading the team in batting, stolen bases (18), hit-by-pitches (14) and assists (216). Holmes along with junior Josh Smith (.314-3-40) and junior Marshall Szabo (.307-6-41) tied for the team-high in hits with 82. This marked the first time since 1978 that there was a tie for the team lead in hits. Smith led the Bulldogs in SEC games with a .363 league average.
Freshman first baseman Josh Morris (.319-16-71) was the only Bulldog to start and play in all 68 games. Morris was named a Freshman All-American by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball , the All-SEC Freshman team and All-SEC second team by league coaches. Morris set the Georgia Freshman RBI Record with a team-best 71 and led the club with 16 home runs. Morris' defense turned heads too as he led the SEC in total chances (686) and putouts (655).
1st Team: Will Startup, LHP - reliever; Josh Smith, 3B
2nd Team: Marshall Szabo, 2B; Justin Holmes, SS; Josh Morris, 1B
SEC Good Works Team
Will Startup, LHP
Josh Morris, Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball
Joey Side, Collegiate Baseball
ABCA All-South Region Team
Josh Smith, 3B (2nd Team)
SEC Co-Coach of the Year
Major League Baseball Draft
Clint Sammons, C, 6th Round, Atlanta
Marshall Szabo, 2B, 17th Round, Cleveland
Justin Holmes, SS, 26th Round, Cleveland
Paul Lubrano, LHP, 33rd Round, Cleveland
Bo Lanier, RHP, 35th Round, Boston
Michael Hyle, RHP, 37th Round, Chicago (N.L.)