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Georgia's success at home not fueled by destiny

POSTED: June 16, 2008 5:00 a.m.
DAVID MANNING | The Associated Press/Athens Banner-Herald/

Georgia's Rich Poythress, right, and the rest of the Georgia Bulldogs are only two more wins away from the College World Series.

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ATHENS — Georgia baseball coach David Perno doesn’t mind talking about his team’s postseason success at Foley Field.

Just don’t bring up the dreaded notion of destiny.

“No, sir, but I’ll tell you what it is,” Perno said. “Our team is very fortunate to have great leadership, so that regardless of wins or losses, nobody thinks that something was meant to be. You go out and earn the results.”

The Bulldogs (39-22-1) will begin their quest for a sixth College World Series berth today against North Carolina State (41-20).

Georgia won its fourth straight game in an 18-6 trouncing of Georgia Tech this week to set up the NCAA Super Regional matchup with N.C. State.

The Wolfpack, one of four Atlantic Coast Conference teams still in the baseball version of Sweet Sixteen, are coming off a three-game sweep of the Raleigh Regional.

Perno believes his team will be entirely focused.

The seventh-year Georgia coach will be quick to remind his players of the disappointment of last Friday, when the Bulldogs lost to Lipscomb in the first game of the Athens Regional.

Following with victories over Louisville, Lipscomb and two over Georgia Tech, Perno wasn’t surprised, but he still found it hard to explain the program’s 15-0 record at Foley Field in NCAA elimination games.

“I didn’t see it coming,” Perno said. “These guys continue to surprise me. Their will, the spirit, the camaraderie is second to none.”

Attempting to win their third straight Super Regional at Foley Field, the Bulldogs are seeking to advance to Omaha, Neb., for the third time under Perno.

Georgia, which won the Southeastern Conference regular season, is expected to start right-hander Trevor Holder (7-4 record, 4.60 ERA) against N.C. State right-hander Clayton Shunick (7-5, 2.16). Shunick, an Alpharetta resident, is a Georgia State transfer.

“Whoever they have on the mound is going to be solid,” Beckham said. “They play in a tough conference and they finished second in their division to Florida State.”

The Bulldogs did little wrong in their last four games.

Right fielder Matt Olson was named regional MVP after hitting .692 with one homer and six RBIs in 28 regional at-bats. First baseman Rich Poythress has homered in three straight games.

Georgia’s bullpen, led by Fields, had a stretch of 40 consecutive scoreless SEC innings without allowing a run during a 12-game span that ended April 13.

Holder seemed a logical choice for Perno even though the junior missed the SEC tournament with a stiff shoulder before spotting Louisville a 5-2 lead in four innings last Saturday.

Experience, though, could favor Holder, who gave up only four hits in six innings of Georgia’s Super Regional win over Florida State two years ago.

“We’ve got a home series and a chance to go to Omaha,” Perno said. “We rode him all year, Game 1 of every SEC series. We were SEC champs. I’m not that smart, but I know he’s a heck of a competitor and a heck of a pitcher. He deserves to be out there Friday.”



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