Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Diamond Dawgs get ready for regional

Tuesday May 30, 2006

What a season. From midseason desperation just to qualify for the SEC Tournament to a national #7 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Diamond Dawgs have given us a very enjoyable spring. Georgia worked hard to earn the right to host the regional, so I hope the stands are packed to reward the Dawgs with a good homefield advantage. “I wasn’t expecting us to see a national seed because they usually stiff us over every year,” said Joey Side in the ABH. That’s true, so let’s make the most of the opportunity to have the home field all the way to Omaha.

A few observations on the upcoming tournament:

  • Georgia and Tech for once would not meet before the CWS. Both are national seeds (Tech received the #8 seed, rightfully after Georgia) and would host their own super regional if they advance to that stage. I have mixed feelings – it was very satisfying in 2001 and 2004 to send the annually overrated Yellow Jackets home.
  • Florida State is the #2-seed in the Athens regional. The FSU program has a strong baseball tradition, and their visit to Athens in 2001 for the super regional was memorable. The raucous Georgia crowd caught FSU’s attention, and hopefully some of the same will be waiting for them this weekend.
  • It’s easy to dismiss unknown programs like Sacred Heart and look ahead to sexier big-name opponents like FSU, but all Georgia has to do is look back to the beginning of their late-season winning streak and the loss to Western Carolina to know how much the name on the jersey is worth. All it takes is one hot pitcher to take control of a game, and most teams good enough to make the NCAA Tournament have that potential.
  • Georgia won regionals in 2001 and 2004 by going through the loser’s bracket. Hopefully that won’t be necessary this year. The pitching staff was stretched very thin in the SEC Tournament, and it would be nice to do things the easy way for once.
  • Georgia needs Mickey Westphal back. Dating back to the Auburn series, Westphal hasn’t fooled many batters and has caused Georgia to dip into the bullpen early. Much was made during the season of his injury-motivated transition from a power pitcher to finesse and location, and hopefully some unfamiliar opponents will help him recover some of that midseason success.
  • I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed that Jonathan Wyatt had passed Joey Side in batting average by the end of the season. Wow. Just a few years ago, Wyatt was purely a defense and speed substitution, and any offense was gravy (making his legendary home run against Tech in 2004 that much more of a great story). Now he’s almost an even-money threat to get on base, and as a leadoff man that is pure gold.
  • It’s also great to see Matt Dunn batting well. With Jason Jacobs on fire in the 6 spot, Peisel a consistently solid eigth batter, Dunn getting some hits makes the bottom of the order rather potent and turns Wyatt and Side into big RBI threats with their high averages.
  • Speaking of Dunn, if Virginia and Georgia both win their respective regionals, Dunn’s Dawgs will play host to his former team in the super regional.

“This was as tough an environment as I’ve ever played in,” Seminoles coach Mike Martin said in 2001. “We ain’t ever coming back up here again.”

Wrong, Mike. We’ll see you this weekend.

Comments are closed.