Dawgs win season opener

ATHENS – Georgia eased into its 2006 baseball season Friday with a long but uneventful 7-6 11-inning win over UNC-Greensboro at Foley Field. Things will get much more interesting from here.

The Bulldogs, who are entering their fifth season under Coach David Perno, play two more games against the Spartans this weekend to begin what at least one group of analysts considers the nation's toughest schedule.

Next weekend, Georgia hosts the No. 15 University of San Diego, which swept defendingnational champion Texas earlier this season. There's also a three-game series against No. 25 Southern California in Los Angeles, two games against No. 1 Clemson and three games against No. 3 Georgia Tech to look forward to.

And that's just the Bulldogs' non-conference schedule. Seven SEC teams are ranked in Baseball America's Top 25 this season. According to www.sebaseball.com, a Web site run by Southeastern Baseball, it all adds up too the hardest path anybody in the country will travel this season.

"I think we're definitely up for the task," Perno said after Friday's win. "We're looking at it as an opportunity. We're under the radar this year. We've got nothing to lose, and we're going to let it fly and see what happens.

Kyle Keen, who had reached on an intentional walk, scored the game-winning run on a two-out single up the middle by senior right fielder Bobby Felmy.

Sophomore Joshua Fields, who is taking over the closer role held by Will Startup last season, got the win after giving up two hits and striking out four in three innings.

"Josh Fields needs to continue to do that," Perno said.

The Bulldogs, who finished 30-25 overall and 12-17 in the SEC last year, lost several notable players, including pitchers Mitchell Boggs, Michael Hyle, Sean Ruthven and Startup.

Top newcomers Gordon Beckham, a freshman shortstop from Atlanta, and Ryan Peisel, a sophomore transfer from East Carolina, made their first career starts against the Spartans. Peisel was 2-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored. Beckham was 0-for-4.

First baseman Josh Morris, the team's top home run threat, missed Friday's game and is expected to miss the series, due to a back injury.

"This has been a great team to be around," Perno said. "It's a great team to coach, tremendous assistant coaches. If you're going to go through a schedule like we've got, there's nobody I'd rather do it with."

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