Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity eliminated any questions about David Perno’s job status for 2013 last week when he told reporters that Perno will return for a 12th season as the Bulldogs’ baseball coach.
However, Perno said Thursday that this spring’s outcome -- capped by a late-season collapse that caused the Bulldogs to miss the postseason for the second time in three years -- is simply not good enough.
“We’ve got to do our part,” Perno said. “The support staff at UGA is special. They’ve done an unbelievable job since Greg has gotten in there and it’s been great. But golly, we’ve got to win.
“That’s what we were set up to do this year and we just underachieved. I thought last year, 2011, we overachieved. But this year we underachieved, so we’ve got to make certain we do our part next year.”
The Bulldogs (31-26, 14-15 SEC) started the season ranked 25th in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll and spent about half of the season ranked in the poll. And while they were competitive in every SEC series -- they won at least once against conference heavyweights Florida, LSU, South Carolina, Arkansas and Kentucky -- they lost far too many winnable games.
The typical problem was a punchless offense, but the Bulldogs typically kept themselves in games with solid defense and fairly consistent pitching. Even those areas let the Bulldogs down during their four-game losing streak to end the season, when they lost the last two games of a series against an unimpressive Alabama club and both games in the SEC tournament -- a collapse that likely cost the Bulldogs an NCAA Regional bid.
“I’ve never been more disappointed,” Perno said. “I’m not a depressed guy, I’m an optimist, but I’m just kind of depressed. I can’t figure it out how we could play defense like we did, how we’d pitch like we did and come up short this week. I don’t get it. Yeah, we didn’t score enough runs, but there’s something else missing. Unfortunately it’s the seniors. We lost them and did not do the job.”
Still, the Bulldogs gathered to watch the NCAA tournament selection show on Monday despite the knowledge that they probably would not make the field, and held out some level of hope until the bitter end.
“Obviously you never really know what’s going to happen with the NCAA,” redshirt sophomore pitcher Alex Wood said. “They’ve done way crazier things I’m sure than putting a team with our stats, record and RPI in, but we were kind of resigned to the fact that we didn’t think we were going to get a bid.”
Now the Bulldogs push their focus toward the next season, which essentially starts with the MLB First-Year Player Draft that will be held Monday through Wednesday.
Perno knows he will lose top prospect Byron Buxton -- and possibly another few players -- from a signing class that he says could be the best his staff has signed. The Bulldogs will also likely lose Wood -- who will probably go in Monday’s top 60 picks -- and potentially junior infielders Kyle Farmer or Curt Powell.
The draft will greatly impact the talent infusion this signing class could potentially bring to Georgia’s roster, but Perno said he is optimistic that the rising senior class will remain mostly intact and the newcomer
“I’m excited about next year,” Perno said. “I think we’ve got a chance to have a great senior class, the best recruiting class coming in and good changes coming down the pike.”