The University of Georgia baseball team completed one of its most successful seasons in school history in 2006, posting a 47-23 record including their fifth appearance at the College World Series.
Georgia, under the leadership of David Perno, is one of just five programs nationally to have advanced to the College World Series (CWS) twice in the past three seasons. The Bulldogs, along with Texas, Cal State-Fullerton, Miami (Fla.) and Oregon State are the five teams to make it to the CWS twice in this span. The final Baseball America Top 25 poll featured national champion Oregon State at number one followed by North Carolina, Cal State-Fullerton, Rice, Clemson and Georgia.
"This is the best three-year run we've ever had," said Perno. "It's a tribute to the players. You have to win late in the year; that's how you earn respect, and our program has found a way to do that. We had a great bunch of guys, and a lot of them have moved on to professional baseball and graduated. We've got some young guys coming back, and it will be up to them to lead the newcomers next year. It will be a challenge, but one we're looking forward to as coaches and I know every player wants to end his season in Omaha at the College World Series."
The 2006 Bulldogs set numerous school records along the way, and their 47 wins tied for the second most ever. Georgia's 1990 national champions posted a 52-19 mark while the 2001 College World Series squad went 47-22. In the Southeastern Conference, Georgia went 18-12 to finish second in the East and third overall. At the SEC Tournament, Georgia tied for third, its best finish since 1989.
Georgia led the SEC in batting with a .309 average including six starters hitting more than .300. Junior outfielder Jonathan Wyatt led the team with a career-best .360 average. He returns in 2007. Junior outfielder Joey Side led the SEC with a school record 111 hits, which ranked third nationally. A sixth-round draft pick of the Arizona
Diamondbacks, he began his professional career following the CWS in Yakima, Wa., along with teammate and first round draft pick, junior right-hander Brooks Brown (8-4, 4.07 ERA). Brown pitched a team-high 110.2 innings and recorded 123 strikeouts for the Bulldogs. Side also set a school record with 188 total bases while batting .352-13-54 to pace Georgia.
Junior first baseman Josh Morris smashed a school record 23 home runs in 2006 and drove in a team-high 68 RBI. He owns the Bulldog career
home run record with 51. After the CWS, Morris signed with the Atlanta Braves, and the 12th round pick spent his summer playing in Rome (Ga.). Brown, along with senior Rip Warren and freshman Nathan Moreau tied for the team-high in wins with eight apiece. Following the CWS, Warren and catcher Jason Jacobs began their professional career with the New York Mets organization. Warren, who went 8-3 with a team-best 3.25 ERA in 74.2 innings, signed a free-agent deal. Jacobs, who batted .331-7-48, was a 20th-round pick. The duo was assigned to Brooklyn, N.Y. of the New York-Penn League.
Senior outfielder Bobby Felmy, a 22nd-round pick of the San Francisco Giants, began his professional career with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in Oregon. Felmy batted .292-9-52 in his final season and was a part of the aforementioned Bulldogs who helped Georgia to a pair of CWS appearances in their career.
Sophomore All-American closer Joshua Fields headlines a list of returning Bulldogs. Fields ended up with a 3-2 mark, 1.80 ERA and 15 saves in 50 innings pitched in 2006. Fields, along with Moreau (8-1, 5.50 ERA), junior Adam McDaniel (2-1, 8.53 ERA) and freshman Trevor Holder (5-3, 4.70 ERA) spent their summer pitching in the Cape Cod League. Redshirt freshman Stephen Dodson (1-0, 4.60 ERA) and freshman Jason Leaver (3-2, 4.95 ERA) pitched for Madison (Wis.) in the Northwoods League. Also, freshman Iain Sebastian pitched for Keene (N.H.) in the New England Collegiate League. A handful of Bulldogs opted to rest during the summer. The veterans in 2007 will be looking forward to helping Georgia return to Omaha real soon.
2006 GEORGIA BASEBALL ACCOMPLISHMENTS
*Final Record: 47-23; Final National Ranking: #6 (Baseball America)
*Fifth College World Series Appearance in school history; Finish: T7th
*NCAA Athens Regional and NCAA Athens Super Regional Champions
*SEC Tournament Finish: T3rd (best since 1989)
*Led SEC in Wins (47), Batting (.309), Total Bases (1208), Hits (786), Triples (27) and RBI (458)
*School Record in Hits (786), At-Bats (2542), Total Bases (1208), Innings Pitched (627.1), Saves (17-tied 1st);
*Eight Shutouts by staff ranked 2nd in school history
*School Record for Avg. Home Attendance (2,026); 81,076 Total ranked 2nd
*Foley Field Record Crowd of 4,302 saw Georgia defeat South Carolina 11-6 to win the NCAA Athens Super Regional and advance to the CWS
*Five players selected in the MLB Draft including 1st round pick in RHP Brooks Brown (34th overall in the draft to Arizona)