Georgia, Ga. Tech may battle again

ATHENS - Georgia Tech and Georgia keep bumping into each other on the college baseball diamond.

The two state rivals are headlining the NCAA's Athens regional, which starts Friday. No. 8 seed Georgia (35-21-1) opens against Atlantic Sun Tournament winner Lipscomb (32-28) in the opener of the double-elimination tournament, while Georgia Tech (39-19) takes on Big East champion Louisville (41-19) in the nightcap.

Both Georgia and Georgia Tech advanced to the College World Series in 2006, but most years when they've made dual appearances, they have met in either the regionals or the super regionals.

The Yellow Jackets eliminated Georgia in the 2002 regional at Atlanta, but the Bulldogs won the 1987 regional and 2004 super regional at Georgia Tech, which also lost in the 2001 regionals in Athens.

Georgia has hosted five regionals or super regionals since 2001 - and won every one of them.

""That history is a good thing to have on your side,' Georgia coach David Perno said. ""But by the same token, this time of the year you still have to go out on the field and do it.'

Georgia limps into the regionals, losers of four of its last five games. After the Bulldogs clinched the Southeastern Conference regular-season title on the next-to-last weekend of the season, Georgia lost two of three in Athens to Alabama and went two and out in the SEC tournament.

""Last week was a blessing in disguise,' Georgia first baseman Rich Poythress said. ""It showed us that we have to show up and play.'

Poythress did not play in the SEC tournament after spraining his wrist in the final series against Alabama. He was one of four front-line players hurt late in the season.

Second baseman Michael Demperio was lost for the season with a knee injury against Mississippi on May 4. Center fielder Matt Cerone missed one game at the SECs after sustaining a concussion when he crashed into the wall making a sensational catch. Staff ace Trevor Holder has not pitched in a game since May 16, when he was removed in the second inning against Alabama.

All but Demperio will play in the regionals. ""Physically, we are healthy and ready to go,' Perno said.

Still, while Holder has been throwing on the side for the last two weeks and pitched some simulated live action early in the week, Stephen Dodson will start against Lipscomb.