baseball Edit

Stricklin offers injury update on Hancock, Schunk

No. 8 Georgia vs The Citadel

WHERE: SRP Park, North Augusta, S.C.

WHEN: Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.

RECORDS: Georgia 33-12, The Citadel: 10-3

STARTING PITCHERS: Georgia - Logan Moody (0-0, 2.30). The Citadel - Jordan Flanders (0-4, 7.06).

TV/RADIO: None/Georgia Bulldog Radio Network: (David Johnston and Jeff Dantzler).

Third baseman and closer Aaron Schunk is dealing with a strained Achilles tendon.
Third baseman and closer Aaron Schunk is dealing with a strained Achilles tendon. (UGA Sports Communications)

It’s been a tough week for the Georgia baseball team, losers of four straight games following last weekend’s sweep by Mississippi State.

But while the Bulldogs (33-12) hope to get back on the winning track Tuesday night at SRC Park in North Augusta against The Citadel, getting starting pitcher Emerson Hancock and third baseman Aaron Schunk back up and going is Priority 1 for head coach Scott Stricklin.

Fingers are crossed that both players will be ready for this weekend’s huge SEC series against Florida. Hancock missed the series against MSU after experiencing what was described as minor soreness in his right arm. Schunk (.339-7-31) suffered an Achilles strain during Friday’s contest in Starkville.

“Emerson threw (Sunday) and felt really good. He’ll throw again (Monday) and his bullpen day is (Tuesday) so we’ll know tomorrow whether or not he will pitch against Florida,” Stricklin said in a telephone interview with UGASports. “We’re still going to be very cautious with it, but he threw yesterday and it was good. We’ll evaluate it today and tomorrow and then make a decision. Everything is trending in the right direction. We’re just going to be very careful.”

No doubt.

At 7-2 with an ERA of 1.04, Hancock has been one of the best pitchers in the entire country, while Schunk is not only one of the team’s top hitters, but serves as Georgia’s closer with 11 saves on the year.

“He’s got an Achilles tendon strain. He was in a walking boot but that was more to keep it mobilized and comfortable,” Stricklin said. “We’re going to sit him (Tuesday), again as a precaution, and we hope to have him back by the weekend. He’s going to get checked out further today, but we don’t think it’s anything further than an Achilles tendon strain.”

Stricklin said Schunk suffered the injury during Friday night’s loss to Mississippi State.

“It was a play he made. He didn’t limp at all, and he didn’t say anything during the game, but he tweaked it,” Stricklin said. “When he woke up on Saturday morning, he really felt it. He said it was really sore, and he was struggling to put some pressure on it. That’s when it really came to light.”

The Bulldogs have certainly endured their share of injuries this year.

Georgia lost starting left fielder Tucker Bradley three games into the season, before losing first baseman Patrick Sullivan (concussion) for 13 games and catcher Mason Meadows for nine after fouling a ball off his face.

Although Stricklin did not pin Georgia’s injury woes on his team’s issues at MSU, they didn’t help.

“Not having Emerson is going to have a major effect, when you arguably have the best pitcher in the country available for you going into the toughest weekend of the year. That can have some effect on you. It affects your rotation, it affects your pitching depth, and some of the moves that you can make,” Stricklin said. “That certainly had an effect on our team this weekend, and losing Aaron, you’re losing your three-hole hitter, your third baseman, and your closer, so it can wear on you a little bit. But we’ve had some injuries, we’ve had some adversity, and we’ve overcome it. This is just another piece of adversity that we’ve got to overcome.”

With three more weeks to go in the regular season, Georgia now finds itself in second place in the SEC East behind Vanderbilt, but still tied for third-best overall mark in the conference at 13-8.

The Bulldogs host Florida this weekend, travel to Auburn next week before closing out the regular-season at home against Alabama.

“We can bounce back for sure. We just need to get healthy and we’ve got this final stretch where we’re really in good shape to be in the top four and still contending for an SEC championship,” Stricklin said. “So, we’ve put ourselves in a good spot prior to what we’ve done last weekend, but we need to bounce back in North Augusta, and then we’ve got our arch rival Florida coming in for the weekend. You can argue this is the biggest weekend for us this year.”