Wednesday, May 27, 2009

9 Innings with Athens Banner-Herald Sports Editor David Ching

Since us here in Columbus know nothing about the Bulldogs, other than the fact stud Gordon Beckham played for them, I figured why not go to one of the best sources possible for the information. Sure I could give stats and numbers and come up with some summary, but it's better to get the thoughts from someone in the know.

In the latest Buckeye Nine 9-Innings, we caught up with David Ching, the sports editor of the Athens Banner-Herald, the hometown newspaper of the Georgia Bulldogs. Enjoy.

First pitch

B9: Just briefly can you gives us Buckeyes a small summary of the season to date? You guys were thought highly of after last years CWS runner-up, has the season gone as expected?

DC: It looked like things were going to go much better than expected early on. Although they were starting five freshmen in the first several games, Georgia started off really hot, went out to Arizona and swept the Wildcats and soon earned the No. 1 ranking in several national polls. They started SEC play hot, too, but started to cool off. About a month ago, they were swept at home by Florida, lost the No. 1 ranking and went into a major tailspin. I think they lost 11 of their last 13 in the regular season because their pitching was pretty bad and their hitting was worse. There's a lot of potential in the lineup, but they've been pretty up and down lately. So I'd say the team's record is about what you would have expected entering the year with so many young contributors, but the way they reached that record was hard to predict.

Second innings

B9: What are the strengths and weaknesses Georgia has shown this season?

DC: They're at their best when they're hitting for power. There are about four or five guys -- most importantly 1B Rich Poythress and C/DH Bryce Massanari, who have about 40 homers between them -- who are power threats. The power comes and goes with them, but they're hard to beat when the guys in the middle of the order are hot. As far as weaknesses, lately they've been highly erratic from the mound -- particularly in the starting rotation. They think they're OK with their top two starters -- Trevor Holder and Justin Grimm, who is expected to start against OSU -- but have no idea who might be worth a start after that.

Headed into the third

B9: Everyone knows about the Poythress, who joins Wimmers as a Golden Spiked finalist, what other players should we watch out for?

DC: Aside from Poythress and Massanari, freshman 3B Colby May has been a star this year. He's started every game and has been one of the team's most consistent hitters all year. Probably the player who acts as the biggest indicator of how the team's playing is CF Matt Cerione. He's the team's emotional leader and is capable of hitting for power. He's often at one extreme or the other between red-hot and awful slumps. He plays hard, though, and is probably the team's most entertaining player to watch.

9 up 9 down

B9: What will be key for Grimm starter to be successful against the Bucks?

DC: Grimm has improved greatly as a sophomore. He was pretty awful last year, but this season he's been getting ahead in counts and racking up the strikeouts. When he's done that, he's been impressive.

Perfect through 4

B9: What reaction did the team was the have once the regional was released?

DC: I think they knew they'd be in either Clemson, Atlanta or Tallahassee. This is a pretty strong foursome, though, and they said as much on Monday. I don't think David Perno was especially happy about the idea of potentially opening the tournament against Alex Wimmers.

Cruisin into the 6th

B9: Even though the team finished a bit in a skid, do you think last years run will prove to be valuable and help Georgia refocus?

DC: I think so. The team's seniors have played in two College World Series and most of the non-freshmen were there last year. They know what it takes to win in the NCAA Tournament, so that experience would have to be valuable.

Streeeetch time at the ballpark (Thats for you Bob Kennedy)

B9: Do Bulldog fans travel well? Do you think a large number will make the 5.5 hour drive from Athens to Tallahassee?

DC: I don't know how many will be coming from Athens, but Tallahassee's only 20 minutes or so from the Georgia state line. I'm sure there are plenty of Georgia fans in South Georgia who will make the trip, since FSU's closer to those parts of Georgia than Athens is.

Call to the pen

B9: For Georgia to return to Omaha they will have to.... And they can not...

DC: The biggest thing Georgia has to do is have a couple of pitchers step up as reliable options, particularly as starting pitchers. They just need a couple of serviceable innings apiece from the bunch. Particularly if they're not getting that, they can't go into the offensive lulls that have plagued them late in the year. They take undisciplined approaches at the plate sometimes and it hurts them.

9th inning

B9: Does Uga make any appearances at baseball games?!

DC: I've never seen him at one, but I'd imagine he might every once in a while. Maybe at a College World Series? Probably not Tallahassee.

Thanks again to Ching for taking the time. The Buckeye Nine will provide any content and coverage the Banner-Herald has on the Tallahassee Regional. Photo of Uga courtesy Georgia Alumni Association

No comments: