Dawgs brace for Gamecocks this weekend

ATHENS – Georgia has returned to a position of power in baseball. The Bulldogs are going into the final weekend of the 2004 season with a one game lead in the East and they are tied for the overall SEC lead.

But David Perno's team had to learn the hard way about winning in order to get back to the top. He said that after difficult road series in Baton Rouge that the Bulldogs finally figured it out.

"When we got back from LSU I think that we realized (how to win). Once we got over that hurdle of expecting to win things turned around for us," said Perno.

Georgia has won 8 of its last 10 games overall and have ripped through its May SEC schedule.

"We have a lot of confidence. We are expecting successes and that was a tough hurdle to get over," said Perno of Georgia's success in the latter part of the season.

But South Carolina, a traditional SEC baseball power, has turned their conference season around, too. Perno says that the only reason for the Gamecock's slump was injuries, nothing more.

"I don't think that you could say that they were ever out of it; South Carolina was injured. But they have everyone back now. Obviously they had tough time because they were missing their shortstop and their second baseman," he said. "I think that they are getting healthy at the right time."

The right time turns out to be the final weekend of the year. The Gamecocks and Dawgs are both in the heat of the SEC championship race. If Georgia wins the series they will win no less than an outright SEC East title; Carolina will do no worse than sharing the East title with Florida with a 2-1 weekend. With a sweep of the Gamecocks, Georgia gets at least a share of the overall SEC title.

Perno says that Georgia's seniors must play well to take the championship home. He added that their guidance will allow younger players to feel at east about the big weekend.

"Our leadership, the guys that have been here the longest, has got to do their jobs. If they do their jobs then the talented freshman will follow suit. I think that the bottom line is the experienced guys are going to have step up," Perno said.

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