Dawgs' baseball to take on #1 Arizona

ATHENS - Georgia starts the baseball season with a series against #1 Arizona.

Old Friends: Georgia head coach David Perno and Arizona head coach Andy Lopez first met while Lopez was head coach at Florida in the late 1990s. In fact, when Perno was a young assistant at Georgia, the Gators were working out at Foley Field one Thursday before an SEC series and Lopez saw Perno watching from the press box. Perno explained he was interested in seeing how Lopez ran practice and so Lopez invited him to watch from the dugout. Perno became a head coach in 2002, and in 2004, his first game at the College World Series came against the Arizona Wildcats coached by Lopez. Perno was national coach of the year in 2004 while Lopez has twice earned that honor plus he led Pepperdine to the 1992 national title. Lopez owns a record of 897-558-7 in 25 seasons. He is 210-140-1 in six years at UA while Perno is 206-159 in six years at UGA.

As Far As Openers Go: The Georgia Bulldogs, under the direction of head coach David Perno, begin their 121st baseball season on Friday with a three-game set against #1 Arizona. Baseball at Georgia dates back to 1886, and its overall record is 1,933-1,443-22.

Georgia's 2008 probable starting lineup will feature seven returning lettermen plus two transfers. The lineup is led by first team preseason All-America shortstop Gordon Beckham (.307-13-51 in 2007). Beckham and senior third baseman Ryan Peisel have started 126 consecutive games. Also, the Bulldogs welcome back sophomores Rich Poythress (1B), Joey Lewis (C) and Matt Cerione (CF) along with senior Matt Olson (RF). The newcomers will be second baseman Michael Demperio (Univ. Texas) and left fielder Adam Fuller (Andrew JC). At DH, Georgia likely will go with senior Joshua Fields, a preseason third team All-America selection as a closer. Junior transfer Bryce Massanari (College of Southern Nevada) is an option at DH too.

The starting rotation for the Bulldogs will feature junior right-handers Trevor Holder and Stephen Dodson along with left-hander Nathan Moreau.

Last Time Versus #1: Arizona comes to Athens as the preseason #1 team according to Collegiate Baseball and #2 by Baseball America.Georgia played host to top-ranked Vanderbilt last May and the Commodores won the series 2-1. Georgia's win came in game two of the series, a 7-0 combined shutout by Nathan Moreau (7 IP, 4H, 1BB, 8K) and Trevor Holder (2 IP, 1H, 0BB, 2K). The last time Georgia won a three-game series over the nation's #1 team came here in 1993 when it swept Miss. State.

Series History: Georgia leads the series with Arizona 2-0. Both wins came at the 2004 College World Series in Omaha, Neb. The Bulldogs opened with an 8-7 win over the Wildcats and then later elminated Arizona with a 3-1 victory.

Play Ball: All Division I-A teams open the 2008 season Feb. 22 as the NCAA put in place a uniform start date to practice (Feb. 1) and play this year. Northern schools have long requested these measures, arguing that schools in the Sunbelt and West Coast had an unfair advantage to preparing for and spreading out their 56-game season.

Did You Know? The last time Georgia opened a season on Feb. 22 came in 2002. It was the first game of the David Perno era, a 10-8 win over North Carolina at Grayson Stadium in Savannah, Ga.

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