Georgia baseball facing critical series this weekend

semerson@macon.comMarch 21, 2013 

ATHENS -- The baseball season is a long slog, and over-correcting one-third of the way in is dangerous. Then again, not much Georgia has tried lately has worked.

There was a players-only meeting last Saturday night after Georgia lost the first two games of its series at Texas A&M. The Bulldogs lost the next game anyway.

When they got back to Athens, there was another meeting, this time with the coaches. The Bulldogs lost to Furman on Tuesday.

Now the losing streak is at five, the critics are again howling at head coach David Perno, and the Bulldogs badly need something to happen, starting this weekend at home against Alabama.

“You can also win five in a row, just like that,” senior shortstop Kyle Farmer said. “And baseball is a long season, and it has its ups and downs. … If you get frustrated, it’s not a good thing, it just leads you down a darker road.”

Perno, now in his 12th year as Georgia’s head coach, said he wasn’t planning any major changes with his team, which is 8-13 heading into the Alabama series. Perno pointed to the stat sheet, saying the team is hitting 20 percentage points better than last year and also has a good slugging percentage. The problem is just not having timely hitting.

Brett Deloach, a senior, is hitting .261 and has left 28 runners on base. But rather than bench Deloach, Perno is just moving him down in the order, to No. 5.

“We’ve just got a couple things to clean up. It’s not like we’re a complete disaster,” Perno said.

The pitching issues are because of a couple who are struggling, according to Perno, who said he still feels he has a good staff. Starting depth is an issue, so once they are just playing one mid-week game he’s hoping the pitching improves.

But it is evident that Georgia needs to string together some wins soon. Perno admitted he worries about a drop in confidence, but not that the team will fold it in.

“I don’t think the wheels will come off with this team. We still do some good things well,” Perno said. “We show the ability that we can hit, we’re just not scoring. We show the ability that we can pitch, we’re just not maybe got the right guys in the right place. I mean, there’s enough guys on this stat sheet who have been really good for us that eventually you’re gonna keep running those guys out there.”

Perno has taken Georgia to the College World Series three times, most recently in 2008. There have been times the Bulldogs started slowly or looked buried that they recovered, so Perno drew on that when asked about the noise from critics.

“I can’t (worry about it). You can’t control it,” he said. “I mean, they wanted me fired in ’04. They wanted me fired in ’05, they wanted me fired in ’07. And we’ve always answered the bell,” Perno said. “It comes with the territory, that stuff. Obviously if you worry about that you’re not doing your job. That’s the only thing that’s on my mind.”

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