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February 19, 2013
As Georgia gets ready for its home-opener Wednesday against visiting Kennesaw State, skipper David Perno says there's no time like the present for his Bulldog batters to start taking a better approach.
In last weekend's season-opening series at Georgia Southern, Georgia hitters struck out 28 times while drawing only four walks, something Perno is anxious to nip in the bud.
"We got to two strikes way too much. We got in bad positions trying to do too much. We were always behind in the count and didn't have the approach we needed to have in those two-strike situations," said Perno, whose Bulldogs dropped 2 of 3 to GSU. "We were there too much and that's when I knew we were a little bit out of whack."
Leadoff hitter Nelson Ward agreed.
"We just got kind of outside of ourselves," Ward said. "That could be one thing. We've just got to calm down and play like we know how to."
Their first opportunity will come against the visiting Owls (3-0) with Wednesday's 5 p.m. first pitch, which precludes this weekend's three-game set against Belmont that begins on Friday afternoon.
In fact, 13 of Georgia's next 14 games will be at home until the Bulldogs hit the road to open SEC play at Texas A&M on March 15.
"I think they got humbled (against Georgia Southern) and I think we got out of the way we had been practicing," Perno said. "If we stay within our approach, stay within the team system and handle it that way I think we'll be OK. It's all about focusing on one pitching and on at-bat at a time. We've just got to get locked back into that."
There were some bright spots last weekend.
Freshman Sean McClaughlin won his college debut, giving up just two earned runs in four innings of work on Friday (a 6-5 UGA win) while Patrick Boling allowed two earned runs and struck out nine on Saturday.
Sunday starter Luke Crumley didn't fare so well, getting lit up for seven earned runs in just two innings on Sunday.
"We got a good idea of our pitching and where people fit. We've got a good role for everyone, and obviously we're going to go with Luke one more weekend to see if he can work it out and figure it out," Perno said. "But all in all, from a pitching standpoint, it was really good."
Gainesville freshman David Gonzalez will make his debut on the mound Wednesday against the Owls, who will counter with redshirt sophomore righty Steve Janas.
"I think we were a little too excited and tried to do too much, but to their credit they threw a lot of strikes and they threw balls when they knew we were going to swing," Perno said. "But at the same time it's baseball, our better teams have never come out he gates so there's no reason I think probably everybody is real frustrated because we got out of what we've been doing. We just tried to do too much."
NOTES: Ward went 6 for 12 in the three-game series against the Eagles, who batted .248 in the three games. The Owls, led by coach Mike Sansing, return 22 lettermen from last year's team that won 34 games and fell to Belmont for the Atlantic Sun title. This year, KSU is projected to finish fourth in the A-Sun.