Perno hints 2B job up for grabs

ATHENS, Ga. -- David Perno has maintained for weeks that Levi Hyams’ bat would come around, but Georgia’s baseball coach seems to be running out of patience with his senior second baseman.

Perno said after Tuesday’s 5-4 loss to Furman that his biggest lineup concern is whether to stick with Hyams or turn to freshman Nelson Ward.

“The only question mark is what to do at second,” Perno said. “Everything else is getting solidified. I just don’t know what to do at second base.”

Hyams was the Bulldogs’ leading hitter last season, batting .332 with a team-best 49 runs. However, he has struggled mightily as a senior, ranking last among Georgia regulars with a .179 batting average in SEC play.

Hyams went 0-for-2 with an RBI and a walk Tuesday against Furman, dropping his overall batting average to .225. Ward went 1-for-4 with an RBI and a walk -- plus a scalded 400-foot lineout to the warning track in straightaway center in the bottom of the ninth -- in Tuesday’s loss to the Paladins. The freshman is batting .297 overall, but only .231 in SEC play.

Nonetheless, Perno hinted that he might give his freshman utility man -- Ward has started six games at second base and five each at designated hitter and center field -- more of an opportunity at second due to Hyams’ prolonged slump.

“It’s getting in territory that we’ve got to make a decision unfortunately,” Perno said.

Hyams is not the only senior who struggled Tuesday, however. Battling an illness, pitcher Michael Palazzone (1-5) allowed all five Furman runs in one inning of relief. Colby May went 0-for-2 off the bench and struck out to end the game with Kyle Farmer on second base representing the potential tying run.

“It was freshmen [producing Tuesday]. None of our seniors,” Perno said. “It stinks and I feel bad for them, but it’s a struggle. Colby strikes out to end the game, Levi doesn’t get a hit, Michael struggled. These kind of games, those guys have got to step up and we’re just not doing it.”