Perno searching for leadership as UGA baseball team fails to crack .500 again

The Georgia baseball team keeps trying, but it can’t climb above the .500 mark.

Perno searching for leadership as UGA baseball team fails to crack .500 again
Roger Clarkson

Appalachian State got off to a fast start to beat the Bulldogs 8-5 on Wednesday at Foley Field. Georgia missed a chance to take a winning record into its first Southeastern Conference series this weekend and the frustration is starting to show up in Bulldogs coach David Perno.

“It’s killing me,” Perno said. “I thought we had the leadership to forge through it. I thought we learned a lot on Sunday (in an 11-8 loss to Liberty). We didn’t match Liberty’s urgency and we did the same thing today. It just didn’t seem like it was as big a game as it was. You’ve got a chance to get over .500. We haven’t been over .500 since a month ago. Since that Friday night when we were 1-0. I don’t know. The hunger and the urgency for greatness isn’t in that dugout right now.”

Wednesday was the second time in a week that Georgia (8-9) reached .500 only to lose its next game. The Bulldogs won the first two games of last weekend’s series against Liberty but lost Game 3. On Tuesday it rallied to beat Appalachian State 9-4 to pull back to .500 but lost on Wednesday.

“They knew how I thought how big the game was. I let them wear the black jerseys. I hate the back jerseys. I think they’re ugly,” Perno said. “That’s what they wanted and we didn’t respond and it’s disappointing.”

Georgia (8-9) will start the SEC schedule with a three-game series at Texas A&M beginning on Friday. On Wednesday Georgia was led on offense by Kyle Farmer, who had a two-RBI single in the sixth and Justin Bryan who had a solo home run to lead off the eighth. Nelson Ward also had two hits and scored twice.

“Of course it’s frustrating to get to .500 and not get over the hump,” Farmer said. “But we’ve got to keep playing and keep working because we’re going to get there eventually. You’ve got to keep at it and not lose confidence.”

The game turned on two shaky innings by the Bulldogs’ pitching. Starter Austin Wallace gave up three hits, including a double and a two-run home run by Dillon Dobson, in the top of the first. In the top of the sixth, reliever Bryan Benzor walked the bases loaded and Josh Zumbrook hit a two-run double to highlight a five-run inning that gave the Mountaineers an 8-2 lead. Benzor gave up four hits, two walks and five runs (all earned) in 1/3 innings. Wallace (0-1) allowed four hits and three runs (all earned) with two strikeouts and no walks to take the loss. Appalachian State’s Jeffrey Springs (1-2) pitched two shutout innings of relief to pick up the win.

“You’ve got to have some veterans step up and lead and more importantly, perform,” Perno said. “They’re good at times, but they weren’t good today. I didn’t feel it. I didn’t see it. I’ve been through this league schedule. If we play with this passive mindset that we’ve demonstrated at times, we might have a tough time in this league.”

Bryan was a bright spot in the midweek series for the Bulldogs. Bryan had two home runs in the two games. He also walked three times in two games.

“I’m being a lot more patient and not just swinging at everything I see in the zone,” Bryan said. “I’m trying not to get in too big a hurry and swing at the pitches I want instead of the other way around.”

Appalachian State (9-5) was l ed by Dobson and Zumbrook, who each had two RBIs.

Notes: Nelson Ward extended his hitting streak to 10 games. … Curt Powell extended his hitting streak to 13 games. … Bryan raised his batting average from .048 to .120 and hit two home runs in two games against Appalachian State.

Follow marcweiszer

marcweiszer

Includes full statement from UGA after decision RT NCAA doesn’t reduce Gurley suspension on Georgia appeal http://t.co/BRj6MY6obY #UGA

1 min ago