baseball Edit

Georgia baseball season preview

Albany at Georgia

WHERE: Foley Field

WHEN: Friday 2 p.m., Saturday 3 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m.

STARTING PITCHERS: Friday – RHP Jonathan Cannon (4-2, 3.98 in 2021) vs RHP Ray Weber (7-2, 3.69 in 2021); Saturday – LHP Liam Sullivan (1-2, 3.99 in 2021) vs RHP Anthony Germinerio (3-5, 3.97 in 2021); Sunday – Dylan Ross (6-2, 3.88 in 2021 in junior college) vs LHP Cregg Scherrer (4-4, 4.92 in 2021)

TV/RADIO: SEC Network+; Georgia Bulldog Radio Network (Jeff Dantzler and David Johnston.

Georgia's baseball team kicks off its season Friday at 2 against Albany.
Georgia's baseball team kicks off its season Friday at 2 against Albany. (Tony Walsh/UGA Sports Communications)

Center fielder Ben Anderson said it was a no-brainer that he took advantage of the NCAA’s Covid-19 waiver to return to the Georgia baseball team for one more year.

As he surveyed the field following batting practice earlier this week, he asked his interviewer, why wouldn’t he?

“There’s some dudes out here,” Anderson. “There’s some real dudes.”

For those unfamiliar with baseball lingo, if you’re considered a “dude,” it means you’re pretty good at what you do.

This year’s Bulldog team appears to have plenty who fit that description.

Georgia welcomes back 29 returning lettermen including eight starting position players and 13 pitchers who logged innings a year ago. Junior righthander Jonathan Cannon and sophomore lefty Jaden Woods were named to the preseason All-SEC 2nd Team in a vote of the league’s coaches.

Despite all the returnees, this year’s team does present a bit of a challenge for head coach Scott Stricklin.

With so many returning players, how does one make it work?

“Every coach wishes they had the problem, but when you have it, it’s still a problem. You try to get guys at-bats, but you’ve got to be careful with just trying to keep people happy, because when you try to make people happy, you make everybody upset,” Stricklin said. “At the end of the day, our hope for the weekend and these two mid-week games, the nine games leading up to the series against Georgia Tech, we’ll have some clarity that these are the guys that need to be playing every single day.”

Breaking down the Bulldogs

Designated Hitter: Sophomore Corey Collins enjoyed an excellent freshman campaign batting .283 with eight homers and 38 RBIs. At 6-foot-3 and 223 pounds, Collins has the potential to hit for a lot more power than that and will have every opportunity to do so, hitting in the middle of the Bulldog lineup.

Collins should be the primary DH, although he also will see time at catcher.

Others should get their opportunity. Among them sophomore Garrett Spikes (.222-0-2), super senior Garrett Blaylock (.243-9-29), and cousins Luke (.229-0-3) and Cole Wagner (true freshman).

Catcher: Sophomore Fernando Gonzalez is primed to take another step forward after starting 36 of the 40 games he played last year behind the plate. Defensively, there are few better. Gonzalez set a school record with a perfect 1.000 percent fielding percentage and threw out 45 percent of runners trying to steal, with only seven passed balls.

Offensively, Gonzalez started slowly with the bat, but finished the season strong, hitting .254 with two homers and 13 RBI. Much more is expected. The native of Panama City, Panama hit well during the fall and preseason. Don’t be surprised to see him bump the batting average by 20 or 30 points and become a better run producer.

Speaking of run producers, fellow sophomore Corey Collins stands to be Georgia’s primary designated hitter but is expected to catch at least one game per weekend.

Senior Shane Marshall is also an excellent defensive catcher and will also see spot starts along with serving as a late-inning replacement.

First base: This was at first thought to be strictly a platoon between left-hander super senior Chaney Rogers (.278-4-32) and sophomore right-handed hitter Parks Harber (.248-3-19). However, Harber has been one of the two hottest hitters throughout preseason camp, and could find himself in the starting lineup consistently with whoever is on the mound.

Perhaps the best power threat on the team, Harber played the entire season with a wrist injury he suffered back in high school. Following surgery in June, he’s now 100 percent and the results have apparently shown.

Freshman Cole Wagner could also receive an occasional start.

Second base: Florida transfer Cory Acton takes over as Georgia’s starting second baseman. A native of American Heritage High School in Fort Lauderdale, Acton started 58 of 60 games for the Gators as a true freshman, batting .251 with six home runs, 30 RBIs, and a team-leading 28 walks.

Last year, Acton started 19 of 31 games, batting .250 with 10 RBI while committing just one error in 71 chances.

He'll be backed up by junior Buddy Floyd (.192-0-2).

Shortstop: Cole Tate is back after starting all 71 games at shortstop, where he hit .305 with 12 doubles, four home runs and 42 RBI.

Tate will hit at the top of the order for the Bulldogs, where he posted a team-high 20 multi-hit games while leading Georgia with 67 hits on the year.

An excellent defender, Tate made only five errors in 179 chances at shortstop last year.

Third Base: Joshua McAllister moves over from second base to third, but it’s not expected to affect his bat.

McAllister led the Bulldogs with a .351 average in SEC play, overall batting .333 with nine home runs and 29 RBIs.

Despite missing 15 games due to a hamstring issue, McAllister posted a 17-game hitting streak with 15 multi-hit games and nine multi-RBI games.

Sophomore Parks Harber can also play third and should spell McAllister from time to time.

Left Field: Connor Tate takes over in left field after being the team’s primary right fielder last spring. At 6-3 and 220, the twin brother of shortstop Cole Tate batted a team-best .344 with 10 homers and 33 RBIs before a hit-by-pitch against Florida on May 15 limited him to just one more inning over Georgia’s final eight games.

Center Field: It was a frustrating year for Ben Anderson. After batting .414 to start the year in the Covid-shortened 2020 campaign, Anderson fell off to .206 last spring. Although he did lead the Bulldogs with 34 walks, Georgia’s leadoff hitter just couldn’t seem to string together consistent games, despite routinely hitting the ball hard.

Fortunately, it appears Anderson’s problems are in the past. Per Scott Stricklin, Anderson carried over a solid fall practice into an excellent preseason camp and appears set to get back to his former self.

Right Field: Here’s where Stricklin has a bunch of options, and we’re liable to see them all through the non-conference part of the schedule. Chaney Rogers (.278-3-32) should see the majority of the chances against right-handers, but when asked about other candidates, Stricklin had a laundry list of names.

They included Garrett Spikes, Dwight Allen, Randon Jernigan, Garrett Blaylock and Luke Wagner among those possibly receiving opportunities.

Starting Pitchers: The Bulldogs will line up righty Jonathan Cannon (4-2, 3.98), lefty Liam Sullivan (1-2, 3.99) and righty Dylan Ross (junior college transfer) as their three weekend starters to open the year.

At 6-5, 6-6 and 6-5, respectively, the trio gives Georgia likely the biggest three weekend starters in the SEC, with each pitcher bringing a little bit something different to the table.

There are other options, too, many of whom are candidates to start midweek games.

Among them, 6-7 righthander Garrett Brown, who missed last season with Tommy John surgery, along with sophomore Luke Wagner, Mississippi State transfer Davis Rokose, freshman Jake Poindexter, and freshman Coleman Willis.

Sophomore Jaden Woods is someone to keep an eye on as well. Woods is a preseason second-team All-SEC pick but is going to open the year in a high-leverage role in the back of the bullpen.

Bullpen: Lots of arms; lots of options. Although Georgia will go into the year without a set closer, there's absolutely no shortage of candidates.

Senior co-captain Jack Gowen (1-0, 2.16) is a big-armed righthander with experience, and along with Nolan Crisp (1-1, 3.90) and Jaden Woods (4-1, 4.58), should start the season as the three main pitchers to close out games.

Redshirt sophomore Will Childers, still recovering from Tommy John surgery, should join the group.

There’s more experience available with Michael Polk (2-1, 1.86), Will Pearson (2-0, 3.91), and Colin Caldwell (0-1, 4.58), along with those pitchers also candidates for midweek starts.

The Lineup

The non-conference part of the schedule is typically where you’ll see coaches like Stricklin do a lot of tinkering, and this year figures to be no exception.

“We had a meeting (Tuesday) and went back and forth where we are batting order wise. You’ve got Ben Anderson, then you’ve got Cory Acton and Cole Tate who could both be two-hole batters, depending maybe on right against left,” Stricklin said. “McAllister, Cole Tate and Acton may be down in the order a little bit. Parks Harber has put himself in position to hit in the middle of the order; he’s been our best guy.

“He and Connor Tate have been the two hottest guys going into the season, so those two guys will be hitting in the middle of the order. Collins is starting to come to life, he’s swinging the bat better, and we all know what he’s capable of.”

Rogers and Gonzalez figure to help make up the lower third of the lineup.

“We’ve got some really good options,” Stricklin said. “The back end of our lineup we feel very confident is good as anybody’s front end of the lineup because guys with experience will be back there.”

Projected Opening Day Lineup
Player Positon

Ben Anderson

Center Field

Cole Tate


Joshua McAllister

Third Base

Connor Tate

Left Field

Parks Harber

First Base

Corey Collins

Designated Hitter

Chaney Rogers

Right Field

Fernando Gonzalez


Cory Acton

Second Base