Opportunistic Gamecocks best Bulldogs in pitcher’s duel, 3-0

ATHENS – Alex Wood didn’t make many mistakes. But when he did, South Carolina made him pay.

Georgia’s crafty left-hander had allowed only five base runners and one solid base hit all night when Gamecocks third baseman L.B. Dantzler turned on an inside pitch and launched it off the top of the scoreboard in right field for a home run and 1-0 lead in the seventh.

South Carolina scratched across another run in the eighth on a two-out single by Evan Marzilli — the inning ended with Marzilli getting thrown out at second base — and scored again on a two-out, two-strike squeeze bunt in the ninth. It was was a stunning display of opportunism at its finest.

On the flipside, Georgia left nine runners on base, stranded the bases loaded in the sixth and left empty-handed after getting back-to-back singles to start the ninth. It was the epitome of wastefulness.

Therein was the difference. Two-time defending national champion South Carolina 3, Georgia 0.

“We never answered all day,” Georgia coach David Perno. “We had an opportunity to strike first. We didn’t. Then we could never answer them late. You have to tip your cap to South Carolina.”

Those busy final frames punctuated an impressive pitching duel between Georgia’s Wood (6-2, 2.61 ERA), the reigning SEC Pitcher of the Week, and South Carolina left-hander Michael Roth (5-0, 2.60).

Wood struck out five in the first two innings. Before the seventh he had given up two bloopers and a pair of infield singles among five hits. But the homer, a ninth-inning triple and the squeeze bunt all came with two strikes.

At the end of it, Wood pitched all nine innings with nine hits, six strikeout and no walks. Yet he suffered his first loss since UCLA on March 9.

“That’s what good teams do,” Wood said. “That’s why they’re back-to-back national champions. They don’t do anything extra special. They just play good baseball and do things the right way.”

“He was great; he was phenomenal,” Perno said of Wood. “I mean, you’ve got to back him. That’s the thing. We shut them out for six innings and we have opportunities and we’re not stepping through.”

Roth wasn’t too bad himself. He had five walks but gave up just six hits in seven innings and half of his six strikeouts came in the sixth when he pitched out of a bases loaded jam.

That’s when the game changed. The Bulldogs loaded the bases on a pair of one-out walks and a bloop single by hard-luck second baseman Levi Hyams. But center fielder Peter Verdin, who struck out with Brett DeLoach on third base in the fourth inning, fanned again. Heath Holder followed and also struck out against Roth, who retired the side with Ks.

“Unfortunately this season we’ve been really bad with the bases loaded,” Perno said. “. It’s been that way all year. Obviously it’s in our head a little bit. We’ve struggled with it and we’ve fought it.”

The Bulldogs threatened in the ninth when Hyams and Verdin opened with back-to-back singles. But pinch hitter Nelson Ward popped out in foul territory and Colby May and Connor Welton struck out against South Carolina’s Matt Price. The Bulldogs also left eight runners stranded in Tuesday’s 8-6 loss to Georgia Tech.

The good news for Georgia was Hyams, who has been in a season-long slump, managed to reach on a pair of singles up the middle.

The Gamecocks improve to 38-12 and 17-8 in the SEC. The Bulldogs fall to 28-22 overall and 12-13. Now tied for sixth in the league, Georgia likely needs to finish at least .500 in conference play and earn one of the 10 spots in the SEC tournament to earn an NCAA tournament bid.

Game Two is Saturday at 1 p.m. and will match Georgia’s Michael Palazzone (2-5, 5.45) against South Carolina’s Jordan Montgomery (4-1, 3.98).

“We’ve got to lean on Michael,” Perno said. “He’s got to get us off to a good start. He’s capable. He’s done it his whole career, pitching in the clutch for us. But they’ve got a scary lineup and we’ve got to hope we can break through offensively.”

25 comments Add your comment

Tip your Hat?

May 12th, 2012
1:29 am

I am a Georgia fan and I Love Baseball, but why do we have David Perno as our Head Coach?
Our AD McGarrity has said to all programs, “I judge success by SEC Championships and National Titles”, so somebody want to tell me why he judges Perno with such favor. Does he not care about the baseball program or maybe it does not generate enough income for the school, SO WHO CARES? He has a CAREER loosing record in the SEC and only has a winning record against Ole Miss, Alabama and Tenn. He has lost the past 4 series to Georgia TECH – GEORGIA TECH???? IF he was the Head coach of the football program – he wold have been fired in 2007 (18 wins). He touts players as the answer to the programs success like – Jared Walsh – who is 6 for 43 with 15K’s and .140 BA or Levi Hyams – .230 BA and 36 K’s. He keeps making changes and visits to mound, that only add up to him making VERY BAD decisions. What in Gods name is going on? This guy is making 450,000 dollars a year and he is not a college caliber coach. I see the look on those kids faces, they will not play for this guy – I would fire him, 1 year left on his contract and go find an answer in a Div. 2 program, where coaches build, teach and want to win, all Perno wants is to save his job and cash those checks.

dbc

May 12th, 2012
2:48 am

Under achievers every year in recent memory. This ship needs a new rudder. No one goes to the games because the outcome is a foregone conclusion. They didn’t choke, they’re just not very good — mainly because the coach is a weakling.

He Hate Mediocrity

May 12th, 2012
5:27 am

I agree with the above posters….McGarity needs to make a change after this season, regardless of whether we slip into a regional or not. It should not be UGA’s goal to just hover around .500 in SEC play, hoping to make the SEC tournament and sneak into a regional. I appreciate Perno’s service to the university as a player, assistant, and head coach, but we can do better.

As for the idea of bringing in a D2 coach….I still have nightmares about the Sapp experiment. Guy had a sterling record at the lower level, came to UGA, and was a complete failure. I say break out the big checkbook and spend some of that $$$ our athletic program is known for banking. Bring in a proven guy at the D1 level, pay him well, and see if he can take advantage of the resources at UGA. Losing another season series to Tech and continuously struggling to win in the SEC….enough’s enough.

Buzz 2011

May 12th, 2012
6:33 am

Perno could coach Dog football and move out Richt. It would make little difference in either team.

Sanford222view

May 12th, 2012
7:31 am

Buzz2011 you’re correct. UGA would still dominate Tech in football.

Douglas

May 12th, 2012
7:58 am

McGarity fired the gymnastics coach because we believe in SEC and NCAA championships. So why is Perno still here based on that logic?

SugarHillDawg

May 12th, 2012
8:05 am

When’s Perno getting the axe????????????????

USC GAMEC0CK

May 12th, 2012
9:04 am

Hey folks you just played the 2 time defending National Champion USC C0CKS so be happy it was only 3 to zip.

TampaGator

May 12th, 2012
9:23 am

@Dienlafin…..

After winning back to back national titles in baseball…….I think they are going to South Carolina as well. If Gators get hot, they win it all this year. No college baseball team has more talent right now than the Gators baseball team (potential 6 first round draft picks on the team).

Nothing Could Be Finer

May 12th, 2012
9:36 am

Pretty sure South Carolina had the No. 1 recruiting class last cycle.

Florida has talent but coaching is a little off.

Ga has some talent but coaching is more than a little off.

Plus Ga fan support is pathetic.

He Hate Mediocrity

May 12th, 2012
10:05 am

I see the ole fan support argument here again….same excuse some folks like to throw out there for men’s basketball failures. PUT A CONTENDING PRODUCT ON THE FIELD OR COURT!!!! UGA fans are sick of the perpetual underachieving of the basketball program (we can throw in Andy Landers’ slide the past 10+ years too, but those programs are night and day considering overall tradition). UGA fans are sick of seeing underachieving baseball teams. If South Carolina, Tech, Clemson, Florida, etc. can put a consistent product on the diamond, UGA certainly can! Fans are not the issue here folks!

BCS Tiger

May 12th, 2012
10:08 am

Hey COOT, you most likely cheat with your baseball program too. How long before you get exposed for your dirty tactics in that sport too? Do they house the baseball recruits at the Winfrey also?

CHEATERS!

realisticfan

May 12th, 2012
10:19 am

A lot of good that strategy of holding out your better pitchers until the weekend and pitching a rookie against Ga Tech, AGAIN, did.. Not only did you lose to our in state wimpy school, you lost to SC. Great Strategy Perno

East Repeat

May 12th, 2012
11:42 am

ACC weenie swiney tigers stay off this blog. For SEC Big Boys only. SC was opportunistic, just like last Sept in Sanford Stadium

bucket

May 12th, 2012
1:45 pm

If you are a Gator, Tech, Tiger, or SCU fan why exactly are you hanging out on the UGA Sports Blog? Oh yeah, I forgot, it’s called “UGA Obsession Disorder.” The cure for that is called get a life or get a girl!

West Coast Dawg

May 12th, 2012
2:02 pm

Fan support is the culprit, eh? I’ve yet to see a fan get a hit or strike out an opposing batter.

We, Georgia, seem to be content with winning aN SEC title once in a while in any sport (GYMNASTICS BEING THE EXCEPTION UNTIL RECENTLY). I’ve been following the DAWGS for years and acceptance of mediocrity is a disease in Athens that eats at the entrails of Georgia sports without a cure, or so it seems.

I WANT TO WIN, WIN IT ALL. I WANT US TO BE THE ALABAMA OF FOOTBALL, KENTUCKY OF BASKETBALL AND SOUTH CAROLINA OF BASEBALL. AND IF HEADS HAVE TO ROLL, SO MAY IT BE!!!! IT’S TIME!!!!!!

McGARITY COULD NOT HAVE REALIZED THAT WE ARE SUCH A TRAIN WRECK. BUT WE ARE.

JUST DO IT!!!!!

Heads have to roll

May 12th, 2012
7:07 pm

If it were that simple to win championships. There is a good chance that the next coach would do even worse or marginally better. SEC and National championships are NOT easy to win. I have been somewhat disappointed in the Dogs baseball team last couple of years, but Perno has taken them to 3 college world series, not an easy task. I think if the team flounders the next couple of seasons, McGarity may pull the trigger.

And we win SEC titles more often than once in a while- closing in on 40 national titles in 8 different sports, and nearly 140 SEC championships in multiple sports. Don’t think many of our conference brethren can match that.

Some of you

May 12th, 2012
7:49 pm

Must not have seen the score today. Dogs win in tenth.

Matthews Dawg

May 12th, 2012
9:13 pm

Idiots on here who think they know baseball, because they played in high school or watch it on TV. Coach Perno has done a fantastic job with the program. He’s been to 3 CWS in his time as head coach. The trouble is the baseball draft keeps taking great players from his team out of high school. Dante Bichette’s son, 2 pitchers from last year that would compete for #1 slot on the staff this year. Both of those pitchers signed for 1.5 million. Can’t blame them for doing that. Coach Perno is signing the talent, unfortunately he can’t keep them from taking the money! All you people think that changing the coach is always the best action. If Perno isn’t doing the right things, then there will be a change, if he is doing the right thing (which I believe he is) then McGarity won’t make a change. Just like in football. The last time all of you people went crazy about this, UGA’s all time winning coach in baseball was fired. That would be Steve Webber! He coached the FIRST EVER CWS winner from the SEC!! Change isn’t always the best thing. Careful, what you wish for!! I would believe most of you haven’t been to watch a game all year or maybe 5 years. Yes, I watched them win last week against Auburn. Perno does a good job and let him do his job! Go Dawgs!!

Matthews Dawg

May 12th, 2012
9:16 pm

Some of you….. GREAT POST! People like to complain, because they hate their own lives! Go Dawgs!

Chip Towers

May 12th, 2012
10:42 pm

Yeah, big win for Bulldogs today. They lead 5-1 before rain delay and creaky bullpen let S. Carolina tie up at 5 and send to extra innings. But Joey Demonico (3 hits) saved the day with game-winning RBI, scoring Peter Verdin for 6-5 victory. 13-13 in SEC. Need to stay at .500 with one more vs. No. 3 SC and three at last-place Alabama next weekend to stay in NCAA hunt.

Rural Education

May 12th, 2012
11:40 pm

The Dawgs are not even in SC class in baseball and any real college baseball fans knows it. Back to Back, touch that “Dawgs”

Fan of the Game

May 13th, 2012
10:43 am

How many years has UGA been to the college world series before Perno got the job? That is what I thought.

BobDawg

May 14th, 2012
7:05 am

… Chip did you say Alabama was in LAST PLACE in baseball?????

ga gator

May 14th, 2012
9:13 am

Matthews Dawg, drafting HS players into the major leagues is a problem with every major program. A friend of mine is a college coach in Florida and he says their dilema is you spend time recruiting top kids and they end up signing in MLB or you figure a kid will get drafted and sign with MLB and you dont recruit him; then he does not sign with MLB but signs with your college rival. Point is recruiting in college is tougher than any other sport. Keep Perno he is a fine coach.