Georgia baseball gets Jonathan Cannon back in arsenal, weekend series at Alabama

Georgia baseball will finally have its top two starting pitchers healthy for an SEC series.

Nationally renowned ace Jonathan Cannon, who missed the last two weeks with a forearm injury, returns to the starting rotation looking as fresh as ever.

“He’s had two bullpen sessions leading up to this,” UGA coach Scott Stricklin said. “So we knew he was healthy, but just to go up and see it and see the 94 to 96, all four pitches for strikes and the confidence… he feels good about his outing.”

The No. 14-ranked Bulldogs (26-11, 9-6 SEC) will see Cannon’s anticipated return in their series at Alabama this weekend. Cannon, typically the fate Game One starter, will have to wait a day longer than usual as Nolan Crisp will start the series opener at 6 pm on Friday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

The weight of Cannon’s presence can not be totally measured by statistics, but numbers like his 1.71 ERA (No. 2 in the SEC) and 0.68 WHIP (No. 2 in the country) do help paint a picture. The 6-foot-6 junior boasts an SEC-best 0.57 walks per nine innings.

He was also added to the Golden Spike Award Midseason Watchlist, the award given to the best amateur baseball player in the country.

Cannon’s efficient success allows him to go deep into games, saving relief pitchers for the last two games of the weekend. He will be on a pitch count this weekend, though, so an eight-inning outing like he had against Mississippi State is unlikely.

The Georgia bullpen has been stretched stiff the last two weeks without its ace in the rotation. Some relievers have struggled accordingly, and UGA has surrendered some high-scoring, game-losing innings.

The Bulldogs gave up 10 runs in the ninth inning and a six more in the sixth in a 23-9 loss to Texas A&M on Sunday.

“You look at last weekend, we came up four innings short and Jonathan Cannon can certainly be that guy to help us get through that,” Stricklin said.

The Crimson Tide (23-15, 8-7) are the first SEC team to face both Cannon and Georgia’s No. 2 starter, Liam Sullivan, this season. Sullivan missed the first three weeks of SEC action with injury before Cannon was scratched in the week prior to Sullivan’s return.

The last team both pitchers faced was Lipscomb on the weekend of March 11.

Cannon’s and Sullivan’s injuries may have cost Georgia some wins, but they could turn out to help it in the long run. As devastating as the injuries were, they allowed Stricklin to find a solid third starter for the weekend.

Georgia was struggling to find a strong No. 3 starter after Dylan Ross suffered a season-ending injury at the beginning of the year. Cannon’s and Sullivan’s departures allowed opportunities for pitchers like Crisp to audition for a spot in the starting rotation.

Crisp, who had his ups and downs out of the bullpen, has allowed a combined 10 hits, six walks, and five earned runs in 12.2 innings in three starts this season. The Locust Grove product will look to make Alabama the fourth SEC team he has limited to two earned runs or less this season.

The Bulldogs and the Crimson Tide are both looking to jumpstart some momentum. Both teams lost their SEC series last weekend and their nonconference games on Tuesday.

Georgia’s Connor Tate leads his team at the plate with a .382 batting average in SEC action. Corey Collins, who leads the team in home runs (9), was 7-for-17 hitting last week with a home run, six RBI, and six runs.

Georgia-Alabama Projected Starters

Friday

Nolan Crisp (0-1, 4.62 ERA)

Garrett McMillan (4-2, 3.02)

Saturday

Jonathan Cannon (6-1, 1.71 ERA)

Jacob McNairy (4-1, 5.68 ERA)

Sunday

Liam Sullivan (3-1, 5.40 ERA)

Grayson Hitt (3-1, 4.12 ERA)

UGA News

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