With head coach David Perno serving a one-game suspension dating back to last year’s NCAA playoffs, the No. 21 Bulldogs were beaten 8-2 by the No. 5 Tigers in the conference opener for both teams.
A crowd of 1,633 watched the game in Foley Field, while Perno watched the first six innings on his home television and then came to the ballpark and listened to the last three from his office under the stands, he said. SEC commissioner Mike Slive suspended Perno from this year’s conference opener last June after Perno was ejected from an NCAA Regional victory over Clemson and then tossed a bucket of baseballs on the field.
Pitching coach Butch Thompson managed the game in place of Perno.
The Bulldogs have now lost three in a row and four of their last five.
“We’re a little snake bit right now,” Perno said. “It seems like everything that can go wrong is going wrong.”
The Tigers (15-4, 1-0 SEC) were paced by Blake Gill’s 3-for-5, 2-RBI night and had 12 hits overall. Senior left-hander Lane Mestepey (5-1) pitched a complete-game, seven-hitter.
The Bulldogs (10-7, 0-1 SEC) took an early 2-1 lead on an opposite field home run by Josh Morris in the first inning, but not much went right after that. Georgia committed two errors and had only two hits in the final five innings.
“You have to keep coming out here with a positive attitude,” Morris said. “One of these days, it’s going to all fall in place for us.”
The Tigers tied the game with one run in the third and then scored three each in the fourth and seventh to put the game away. Georgia starter Mitchell Boggs, making the first Friday night, SEC start of his career, pitched 6 1/3 innings and gave up five earned runs. He took the loss to fall to 1-2 but pleased Thompson and Perno by getting into the seventh inning and throwing more than 100 pitches.
“I think we’ve found a starter,” Perno said.
Georgia finishes its series with the Tigers with a 4 p.m. game today and then a 1 p.m. finale on Sunday.
“We started off this way last year and had to push through it,” shortstop Josh Smith said. “You have to believe it’ll turn around.”