A New York team that isn't the Yankees is heading to Athens to play the Georgia baseball team. The Bulldogs have a three game series with the Binghamton Bearcats of Binghamton, N.Y. starting on Friday at Foley Field.
Binghamton comes off a series split with James Madison. The Bearcats played four games at James Madison in Virginia and have a 3-4 record overall.
The Bearcats play in the America East Conference, which includes Stony Brook, a team that made it to the College World Series in 2012. Binghamton is projected to repeat as the America East Champions by Collegiate Baseball.
Georgia's record sits at 2-6 following a Tuesday night victory over Furman and a Wednesday night loss to Georgia State.
"I'm happy with the direction our pitching is going the last two games," Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin said. "Runners in scoring position, we just haven't been able to get that big hit."
After yielding an average of 9.2 runs per game in their first six games, the Bulldogs' pitchers have calmed down considerably. Georgia beat Furman 6-4 on Tuesday but lost on Wednesday despite giving up only three runs in a 3-2 loss to Georgia State.
"The pitching was outstanding," Stricklin said. "We've just got to get that big hit."
Binghamton junior Jack Rogalla will pitch for the Bearcats on Friday and Georgia will counter with sophomore left-handed pitcher Ryan Lawlor. Rogalla is 1-1 with a 4.09 ERA and Lawlor is 1-1 with an 8.00 ERA.
"The direction our pitching has been going the last two days has been very positive," Stricklin said. "I'm encouraged at what I've seen pitching-wise."
Binghamton is a team who made the NCAA Regionals in 2013 and brings a wealth of experience into the Classic City. The Bearcats have 16 upperclassmen (four seniors, 12 juniors) on a 30-man squad.
"Everybody in their lineup is a junior or senior with the exception of the third baseman," Stricklin said. "They're a very good team and they're going to be very hard-nosed and scrappy."
One "scrappy" or "hard-nosed" player Stricklin may have been referring to is Bearcats senior center fielder Bill Bereszniewicz. He has played in seven games and is batting .346 with six RBI.
Binghamton senior shortstop John Howell and sophomore third baseman David Schanz both boast a batting average of .313. Schanz has notched six RBI thus far. Sophomore infielder Reed Gamache has played in four of the Bearcats' games to give them a boost as he is batting .429 with four RBIs.
"My concerns are more on my team," Stricklin said. "I'm trying not to worry too much about our opponent."
Despite the team's underwhelming start to the season, Bulldogs head coach Scott Stricklin seemed to be in good spirits Thursday afternoon. Perhaps his positivity stems from the news that freshman Mike Bell, the Georgia shortstop who broke his right hand in the off-season, is swinging the bat again.
"Michael Bell will hopefully be at shortstop this weekend," Stricklin said. "He's been swinging the last few days. Today he's going to go live in intersquads. If he's comfortable today, then we won't hesitate to put him there tomorrow. As long as he's healthy, the sooner he gets in there, the better."
Stricklin said Bell has been hitting in the cage the last week but Thursday marked the first day he's going against live pitching.
"Today in live hitting you just want to see him comfortable," Stricklin said. "Just want to see him taking swings confidently and seeing the ball."
Bell saw some action on the base paths and in the field on Tuesday, but has yet to hit in a game.
More good news for Georgia came out when Stricklin said junior Jared Walsh should be back in the lineup on Saturday following the completion of his nine game suspension due to violation of team rules. Saturday is the first day Walsh is eligible to return, and he has seen time in the outfield, at first base, on the mound and as a designated hitter in previous years.
"Jared will be in the lineup on Saturday and we're looking forward to having him back," Stricklin said. "He'll hit in the middle of the order and most likely will get on the mound sometime Saturday as well because we plan on pitching him in the middle of the week."
Stricklin also said he plans to move junior outfielder/third baseman Hunter Cole back to the outfield following his two game stint at third base. Sophomore Jess Posey, who normally bolsters the hot corner, should move back from second to third as well, according to Stricklin.
The first pitch on Friday is set for 5 p.m.