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Five things Georgia must do to reach College World Series.


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Five things Georgia must do to reach College World Series

By CARTER STRICKLAND

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 06/03/08

Athens David Perno might be the only human in history to ever be blindsided and subsequently thrilled that it happened.

"I didn't see this coming tonight," the Georgia baseball coach said after the Bulldogs' 18-6 win over Georgia Tech.

OK, so Nostradamus he is not. But c'mon. Didn't see it coming? Georgia had scored 26 runs in the previous 21 innings before beating Tech to move on to the Super Regional. Matt Olson had a .400 plus career batting average against Tech. Rich Poythress had homered in each of the last two games. Gordon Beckham was, well, Gordon Beckham. All those with ability of hindsight saw this coming a mile away.

Now, Georgia has to keep it going in order to get to the College World Series. With that in mind here are five trends that need to continue for Georgia to make it to Omaha.

Power from Poythress

Perno was not above threats. And the one he was making to Poythress was not an idle one. Just after the first game loss to Lipscomb Perno threatened to sit the first baseman. Poythress was just coming off a wrist injury and he didn't produce. So Perno told him he was going with Robbie O'Bryan in his place.

"I think it [ticked] him off," Perno said.

Evidently. Poythress had three home runs in the next four games and accounted for 11 RBI over those four games. And his wrist feels just fine.

"The wrist injury was a blessing in disguise really," Poythress said. "I am really trying to do a lot less here as of late. I haven't really worried about extra-base hits and stuff like that."

Another ace

It might not be Nick Montgomery this time, but Georgia has to find someone to go pitch for pitch against one of the nation's top staffs. North Carolina State's pitching staff has one of the top five ERAs (3.36) in the country. The Wolfpack held South Carolina to one run in clinching its regional. South Carolina was fifth in the Southeastern Conference in runs (443) this year.

Because of his shutout of Tech, Montgomery appears to have locked down the Sunday start for Georgia. That leaves Stephen Dodson and Trevor Holder open for Friday and Saturday. Perno considers them the aces of the staff. But both struggled last weekend. Dodson took the loss against Lipscomb. Holder was trailing 5-2 when he left the Louisville game.

In the clutch

Up 5-3 after a shaky first inning and with two outs against Georgia in the top of the second, Tech coach Danny Hall thought maybe his team had weathered the storm. Then Bryce Massanari came through for Georgia.

"That was a key hit in the game," Hall said.

Massanari hit a two-out, two-RBI single to tie the game. Tech's Patrick Long booted ball the next ball from Matt Cerione to allow the go-ahead run.

"It seemed like defensively we kept breaking down after that," Hall said.

Massanari has been breaking down defenses all season. He leads the team with 28 two-out RBI.

Lose early, win late

If Georgia loses one of the first two, don't panic. The Bulldogs are 15 for 15 in elimination games at Foley Field.

"The will, the sprit, the camaraderie with this team is just second to none," Perno said.

The thing was Georgia was stumbling down the stretch. It had lost two of three to Alabama and then been swept right out of the SEC Tournament. After a Friday loss to Lipscomb Georgia had a four-game losing streak, it's longest of the season.

"It easily could have been two and done here if we would have rolled over and died and ended our season," said senior Matt Olson. "But everyone came together and stepped up better than we have all year. It was just a tremendous job from all facets of this team."

Getting to Fields

When the game matters so, too, does Joshua Fields. The senior reliever is considered the best in college baseball. Because of that Georgia has set up its team and it staff to be able to get Fields in the game in the ninth. Fields did not give up an earned run until May. He didn't give up a home run until Saturday.

If the game is tight headed to the ninth, Fields has proven time and again he can close out just about anybody.

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NCFalconfan (6/4/2008)
I won't pretend that I know much about college baseball as I don't really follow it, but I am excited to see my alma mater NCSU take on Georgia. For some reason those two schools rarely face one another in ANY sport.

yeah they don't.. nc state has the better pitching staff and uga is the better hitting team. it should be intersting to see how they matchup.

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