ATHENS -- David Perno is Georgias head baseball coach, but he is starting to talk like a basketball coach in March, lobbying for his teams NCAA tournament résumé.
Thats easy to understand. The Bulldogs enter the second-to-last weekend of the regular season on the NCAA bubble, riding a conference win streak, but with one of the nations top teams in town.
When you look at everything, were in pretty good position, Perno said Thursday of his team, which is 28-21 overall, 12-12 in the SEC and No. 40 in the national RPI. You take considering where we were Sunday going into LSU, and then you look 10 days later, gosh, weve got a chance to do good things. If you play good this weekend, it creates a lot of momentum.
But theres the rub: South Carolina (37-12, 16-8) is the two-time defending national champion. So while a successful series for Georgia would be an accomplishment, it will also be a tough task.
What theyve done the past two years is incredible, Georgia pitcher Alex Wood said. I dont feel like they do anything extra, they just win.
Perhaps thats why Perno was putting the emphasis Thursday on playing well, and not necessarily getting wins. But he did it acknowledging a potential hole in his teams resume.
Georgia is coming off a sweep of Auburn, the fifth-place team in the SEC West.
That came a week after salvaging a Sunday win at LSU, which shares the best record in the SEC with South Carolina.
The Bulldogs have yet to be swept in a series this year, but they have not won a series against a team with a winning conference record. They finish the season at Alabama, which has the worst record in the league.
Weve got life. Its not a panic-type situation, Perno said. But what is kind of a must is we compete like weve been competing, we hang in there. And then yeah, obviously, win a series against a prominent opponent is something were probably lacking in. And weve got that opportunity this weekend.
The Bulldogs feel much better about their chances thanks to Wood, who gets the start Friday. The left-hander has emerged as the teams ace, carrying a 6-1 record and 2.64 earned run average into the weekend.
Hes been the difference. Hes given us life, theres no question, Perno said. I mean, it couldve got away from us and his ability to pitch in big games, and not only throw quality innings but quantity innings, to give us breathing time ... . His presence on Friday night makes us a different team.
Wood lumped himself in with No. 2 starter Michael Palazzone (2-5, 5.45 ERA) as the ones who can give Georgia a chance this weekend. If they each pitch well, according to Wood, they can beat anybody in the country.
That will be put to the test against the Gamecocks.