Perno Unpleased

ATHENS - Hearing the truth can be painful. David Perno knows honesty can ruffle feathers, but he doesn't tell people what they want to hear.

The Georgia baseball coach delivered one of his straightforward messages Sunday at the conclusion of the Bulldogs' abysmal series against Auburn.

The truth, Perno said, is that this Georgia team is not good right now.

"We don't have a whole lot of grit," he said. "We don't have a whole lot of toughness. We don't throw enough strikes, and we sure have a tough time scoring runs."

Unfortunately that pretty much covers everything in baseball. And also explains the Bulldogs' problematic play against Auburn this weekend, losing three games by a combined score of 43-9.

The Bulldogs (8-12, 0-3 SEC) couldn't sustain success at the mound, or the plate, and committed six errors.

There were moments where Georgia made progress, but they were fleeting.

Georgia narrowly lost the second game 4-3. And led after three innings in the final matchup. The Bulldogs just couldn't keep it together for extended periods of play.

"Like coach was telling us, we can't do that for just four innings, we have to do that for nine innings," said catcher Carson Schilling.

Perno added more truth, saying he placed too high of expectations on his group. Before the season started, he praised the potential of this team. Now, Perno admits, he was wrong to do that.

Following Sunday's 19-3 loss, Perno huddled his team in the outfield.

"I took the expectations off of them," he said. "I said, ‘We're not a very good baseball team.' If we want to see improvement, you've got to tell it like it is. Obviously, not being very tough, they can't handle expectations. So we have to relieve them of those expectations."

The expectations came in part because of 11 players on Georgia's roster who were drafted at one point in time.

"Yeah, there's talent, but what I'm, saying is we're not a very good baseball team," Perno said. "They just don't quite get it right now.

"We don't make adjustments at the plate. We make the same mistakes over and over. Pitchers, if they're missing high, they don't know how to fix it. Miss somewhere else, not the same place. We see that over and over. We continue to make errors in the middle of the field. It's insanity. You keep doing the same thing and expect to get a different result. It doesn't happen."

The statistics, like Perno's assessment, are not easy to swallow.

The Bulldogs have a team ERA of 8.22, a batting average of .287, and 29 errors.

Although current times are bleak, Georgia players say they can turn things around.

"This is not how we play," said shortstop Levi Hyams. "This is kind of a fluke. I know we're going to come together, and it's all going to come together at the same time. We're all going to pitch good, we're all going to hit good, and we're all going to play defense good. I really do believe that whole-heartedly."

One thing is for certain, Perno insists. Georgia will not quit. The players are still practicing hard and giving their best effort during games. And Perno enjoys coming to the ball field every day to coach this team, he says.

"I think their strength is they're good kids who come from good families," he said. "They won't quit. I promise you that. I don't know if we'll win, but they won't quit."

Turning momentum is the focus today, as Georgia host Furman. Perno preached the importance of having a short-term memory, reminding players to keep the Auburn series in the past, where it belongs.

"You've got to have a short-term memory to play this game," Schilling said. "Especially in this league, because everybody we're going to be playing is tough. We're a good team, and we can do it. It's just a matter of getting things straight, and executing things all around."

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