April 23, 2012

Turner Field showdown

Don't get David Perno wrong.

Sure, he enjoys the annual get together at Turner Field to take on arch-rival Georgia Tech. The game is for a good cause, and based on the fact Georgia has historically fared very well, it's been a game he doesn't mind playing.

Still, as the Bulldogs (24-17) get ready for Tuesday's 7 p.m. first pitch (Sports South), Perno admits the SEC portion of Georgia's schedule is still weighing heavily on his mind.

oubt. You enjoy playing at Turner Field. It's great. The only thing, it comes at a time when you're so enthralled with your league schedule coming up and trying to position yourself into the post-season, and it makes this game more important as well," Perno said. "At the same time, you want to get a better seed in that conference tournament so there's a little bit of attention with what's going on come the weekend for certain."

After winning just one of three games last weekend against top-ranked Florida, the Bulldogs will try their luck this weekend against LSU.

It's just the latest in what's been a murderous stretch of conference games for the Bulldogs, who according to the latest RPI rankings, are the nation's 39th best team.

"It says that we're good, we've just got to win some weekends. We've got to win some series and our RPI will jump," Perno said. "Our thing is it doesn't really matter from that standpoint as long as we can finish in the top six of your conference. If you're one of the top six seeds going to the conference tournament, you're in good shape. If we can find a way to get in the front half I think our RPI will take care of itself."

Georgia is not actually that far out of the picture in regards to climbing into the top six in the overall conference standings.

The Bulldogs are currently tied with Mississippi State for the seventh-best league record, just one game behind Ole Miss and Arkansas who both have conference marks of 9-10.

Georgia is fourth in the SEC East standings, three games behind Florida and South Carolina, which are 11-7 in league play. Kentucky (35-6) leads the East at 13-5.

"We got LSU this weekend and we still have South Carolina, so you've got some opportunities to make it in, and of course there's Georgia Tech, so that's not a bad RPI game, either," Perno said. "We've got some games where you can make up some ground. You've just got to have some success."

That's something the Bulldogs are trying their best to find.

After taking two of three in the team's last homestand against Ole Miss, Georgia dropped two of three to the Gators, including a 3-2 decision in Friday's 16-inning marathon.

Georgia did bounce back to win Saturday 5-3 on the arm of Michael Palazzone, a victory Perno said was crucial to the Bulldogs' cause.

"(The 16-inning game) was tough, but not near as tough as Saturday was. We needed to find a way to bounce back after that kind of loss. I know we haven't had many 16-inning losses, but we had a couple of bad ones at Vandy, a couple of bad ones against Kentucky, so they've been multiplying on us and that's something we had square up, or nix, right away," Perno said. "That's the opportunity we have (Tuesday), to pick ourselves up, because that's something this team hasn't done very well, and it needs to change down the stretch. Fortunately, we turned it a little bit after that Friday loss because it doesn't get any tougher than that. If you can pick yourself up from that loss, then you shouldn't have any problem doing it again."