Jack in the Box: Six Days in April, Part 4

April 25, 2009

By Jack Wilkinson
Ramblinwreck.com

Call it Six Days in April. Not to be confused with “Seven Days in May.” That 1964 film was based on the political thriller novel of the same name. Not that this week in Georgia Tech athletics doesn’t have its own intrigue, drama and long-range ramifications, if not long-range nuclear weapons. Unless, of course, Luke Murton goes on another home run binge.

But for now, as the spring semester winds down and final exams loom next week, Tech teams are positioning themselves for the month of May and the post-season. So let’s follow along daily during Six Days in April: a sporting six-pack on the Flats as April approaches May and the collegiate sports calendar gets serious.

Day Four: Speaking of long-range Luke…

Remember that early-season slump, when Murton couldn’t clear the broad side of an outfield fence? Those days are going, going, gone _ just like the ball he smackedin his second at-bat Friday evening at Clemson.

Murton’s two-run homer in the third inning broke a 3-3 tie and gave Tech a 5-4 victory to open a crucial three-game weekend series. His 12th homer of the season _ one of the senior right fielder’s three hits on the night _ gave him 43 RBIs and raised his team-leading batting average to .376.

It also immediately made this road trip far more palatable than Wednesday’s bus trip to-and-from purgatory (i.e., Cullowhee, N.C.), if not quite baseball hell.

That 10-9 loss at Western Carolina, which scored twice in the seventh and eighth innings to upset the nation’s No. 4 team, was aggravated by Tech’s return to the Flats well after 1 a.m. Thursday morning. The Jackets surely slept better Friday, after the hurtin’ Murton put on Clemson, three more hits by shortstop Derek Dietrich and the pitching of Deck McGuire, Jake Davies and Zach Brewster.

After allowing three Clemson runs in the first, McGuire shut out the Tigers through the next four. Davies worked 2-1/3rd innings, allowing one run, before Brewster came on. He struck out the side in a 1-2-3 ninth to earn the save. McGuire, meanwhile, improved to a perfect 7-0, and Tech (28-9-1, 14-5-1 ACC) earned a much-needed conference win and a good night’s rest.

Meanwhile, up in Philadelphia, Tech’s men’s and women’s track and field teams continued to enjoy themselves, and impress, on Day 2 at the Penn Relays. Especially the Jackets’ heavy hurlers: Steve Marcelle, the junior from Green Bay, Wisc., and freshman Bailey Wagner.

Marcelle, who won the shot put at the ACC Outdoor Championships and finished second in the discus, finished third in the discus in Philly with a toss of 183 feet, 10 inches. The Green Bay putter was fourth in the shot (59 feet, 3-3/4 inches). Teammate Andy Powlen (57 feet) finished fifth.

On the women’s side, Wagner threw a personal-best 160 feet, 11 inches to place fifth in the discus.

And somewhere, surely, Tech head track and field coach Grover Hinsdale ate another Philly cheese steak.

Meanwhile, back on the Flats, the 20th-ranked women’s softball team (35-13 overall, 12-3 ACC) prepared to open a crucial, three-game series Saturday with a doubleheader versus conference leader North Carolina. The No. 12 Heels (44-7 overall) lead the ACC with a 15-2 record, and hope to spoil Senior Day for Tech’s three seniors. Jackets Whitney Haller, Tiffany Johnson and Blair Shimandle, however, have other ideas.

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