Georgia hires LSU pitching coach Wes Johnson as next head coach

Published 9:09 pm Monday, June 5, 2023

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Georgia hired LSU pitching coach Wes Johnson as its new baseball head coach on Monday.
Johnson replaces Scott Stricklin, who was fired on May 26 following a 9-0 loss to South Carolina in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament. Georgia finished 29-27 this season, including an 11-19 mark in the SEC.

Johnson was the Minnesota Twins’ pitching coach before making the unusual move of leaving the major leagues for the job at LSU last June. At the time, Johnson said the career change was “very, very, very tough. This the toughest thing I’ve ever done.”

Johnson, 51, will remain with LSU (46-15) through its postseason. The Tigers, led by their strong pitching staff, will play Kentucky in a super regional series next weekend in Baton Rouge. The winner of that series advances to the College World Series.

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“He’s locked in. This has been done for about five days. I mean, I think the preparation and the execution of the pitching staff this weekend speaks for itself,” LSU head coach Jay Johnson said after the Tigers beat Oregon State on Monday to win the NCAA Tournament’s Baton Rouge Regional. “I love him like a brother. I can’t imagine only spending 11 months with somebody and connecting the way that we have.”

In a statement released by Georgia, athletic director Josh Brooks said Wes Johnson brings the Bulldogs “a proven track record of developing student-athletes while helping teams achieve impressive results.

“We aim to compete for postseason success and championships, and Wes has done that throughout his coaching career at every level, from high school to college and up to the major leagues,” Brooks said. “We are confident he will make Georgia baseball one of the premier programs in the country.”

Wes Johnson, a native of Sherwood, Arkansas, previously worked in the SEC as the pitching coach at Arkansas and Mississippi State.

Stricklin completed his Georgia tenure with a record of 299-236-1 overall and 121-146-1 in the conference. Stricklin guided the Bulldogs to three NCAA Tournament appearances but never advanced past the regional stage, including 2018 and 2019 when they were a host. They also were eliminated in the regionals last season.