Jackets End Homestand With Georgia State, Alabama State This Week

March 24, 2008

ATLANTA – No. 17 Georgia Tech (17-5) will host Georgia State (14-7) and Alabama State (7-7) Tuesday and Wednesday to end a six-game homestand this week before traveling to Boston College for a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference series beginning Friday at 2:30 p.m.. The Yellow Jackets and their cross-town opponent meet Tuesday at 6 p.m. while Tech and Alabama State square off Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Game Coverage: Live video coverage for Wednesday’s game will be available on ACC Select (gatech.playonsports.tv). A radio broadcast of both midweek games can be found on WREK Radio (91.1 FM in Atlanta/www.wrek.org) while live stats for all Georgia Tech baseball games are available at Ramblinwreck.com.

Game Promotions: $1 Weekdays are still going on – This week, fans can get a bag of peanuts from the concession stands for just $1.

The Jackets went 4-1 with an ACC series win over Duke last week, the Panthers are coming off a CAA series sweep of defending league champion VCU over the weekend, and the Hornets lost to Jacksonville State twice in a three-game series their last time out.

The Yellow Jacket pitching corps is holding opponents to a .239 batting average, as seven different pitchers have earned wins through the first half of the 2008 season. Closer Chris Hicks has collected an ACC-best six saves for the Yellow Jackets and relievers Brad Rulon and Andrew Robinson have notched one save apiece.

Pitching Matchup (Georgia Tech vs. Georgia State/Alabama State)
Tuesday: RHP Deck McGuire (3-0, 1.73) vs. RHP Adam Knight (1-1, 7.31)
Wednesday: RHP Brandon Cumpton (0-0, 5.00) vs. TBA

Georgia Tech’s offense is led by freshman leadoff hitter and CF Jeff Rowland (.424, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 10 SB), redshirt junior RF Charlie Blackmon (.338-2-16-7) and freshman SS Derek Dietrich (.333-7-22-3), while a total of six Yellow Jackets are batting .300 or above in 2008.

The Teams of Late

Georgia Tech – The Yellow Jackets fell to Duke, 10-3, in the ACC series finale Sunday after winning the prior two to the Blue Devils, 5-4 and 4-2, and defeating Kennesaw State (10-0) and Mercer (7-6) earlier in the week. The Yellow Jackets now close out the six-game homestand with their second meeting of the season against Georgia State and their first ever against Alabama State. Georgia Tech has relied heavily on its pitching staff early in the season, as the Jackets are averaging just over six runs per game through the first 22 games of the season while opponents have yet to break to 100-run mark, scoring 4.09 runs per game in 2008. The Yellow Jackets enter the week with a 12-1 non-conference record, with their only loss coming in an 11-inning affair to Rutgers.
Yellow Jacket Quick Hits: Charlie Blackmon is hitting .417 with two doubles, a home run and eight RBI in his current seven-game hitting streak; he has also reached base safely in all but one game this season and hit safely in all but four … Derek Dietrich hit .500 in the series against Duke, and .444 in his last five contests; he has reached base safely in every game this season and had at least one hit in all but four games … Brad Feltes has hit safely in all but four games this season and reached base safely in all but two games … Chris Hicks has made six scoreless appearances in 2008 and has five saves in the month of March … Michael Hutts has made three scoreless appearances this season … Kevin Jacob has four scoreless outings in 2008 … Deck McGuire hasn’t allowed a run in his last three outings, a span of 9.2 scoreless innings; he’s also given up just four hits in his last nine innings of work … Thomas Nichols has hit safely in all but three games this season … Andrew Robinson hasn’t allowed a run in his last two outings and has made seven scoreless appearances in 2008 … Jeff Rowland is hitting .636 in his current four-game hitting streak and .536 in his last nine games; he has hit safely in all but three games this season … Brad Rulon has had nine scoreless outings for the Yellow Jackets in 2008.

Georgia State – The Panthers enter Tuesday night’s game on a four-game winning streak after sweeping VCU, the defending Colonial Athletic Association champion, in a three-game series in Richmond over the weekend. Georgia State has won five of seven games since losing to the Yellow Jackets at home two weeks ago, but have combined excellent hitting with key pitching to find success since that game. The Panthers are hitting .325 as a team, with nine batters hitting .300 or above, while holding opponents to a .254 average.

Alabama State – Little is known about the Hornets from Montgomery, Ala. It is believed that they enter the week with a 7-8 overall record, and they are scheduled to play at Florida A&M Tuesday afternoon before traveling to Atlanta for Wednesday’s game. Alabama State lost a SWAC series against Jackson State over the weekend by splitting a doubleheader Sunday afternoon after falling, 8-3, in the series opener Saturday afternoon.

Tech vs. the Opponent (Tech leads Ga. State, 50-7; First meeting with Ala. State)

Georgia Tech and Georgia State are meeting for the 58th time in history, with the Yellow Jackets holding a 50-7 lead in the series after winning a 10-6 contest against the Panthers in Panthersville earlier this month. Tech and State split the two games last season, with neither team winning on their home field.

The last game played between the two teams at Russ Chandler Stadium saw the Panthers get the best of the Jackets in a 9-5 win on February 21, 2007, but Tech responded by stopping Georgia State, 3-0, exactly one month later in Panthersville.

The Jackets have won 29 of the 32 games played on their home field, and are a remarkable 27-3 against the Panthers under head coach Danny Hall. Hall’s teams won their first 13 games against the Panthers before Georgia State defeated the Tech head coach for the first time with a 4-3 win in 2000.

Earlier this month, Georgia Tech freshman Derek Dietrich collected three hits – including a double and home run – and drove in three runs to help the Yellow Jackets knock off the Panthers, 10-6. Tech scored three runs in the sixth inning and added three more in the eighth to secure the four-run win while Yellow Jacket relievers Kevin Jacob, Andrew Robinson and Brad Rulon combined to hold Georgia State scoreless over the last three innings, scattering just two hits while striking out three.

The Yellow Jackets will be meeting the Hornets for the first time in history when they square off Wednesday night at Russ Chandler Stadium.

Georgia Tech vs. In-State Opponents

Georgia Tech went 5-6 against teams from the state of Georgia in 2007 but has won the first six games of the season against in-state foes Georgia Southern, Kennesaw State, Georgia State and Mercer to start 6-0 against state of Georgia opponents this season. Since 1999, the Yellow Jackets own an 83-26 (.761) record against its in-state foes. In 15 years under head coach Danny Hall, Tech is 126-43 (.746) against teams from Georgia.

Starting Five off to Stellar Start

Since the 2002 season, Georgia Tech has no fewer than 14 former starting pitchers that have been selected in the MLB Draft. The starting rotations – encompassing both weekend and midweek – from each of the six previous seasons (2002-07) have been some of the best in history, but perhaps none are better than the Yellow Jacket starting rotation of 2008, which has combined for a 2.77 ERA while holding opponents to a .215 average through the first 22 games of the season. The have also been a part of five shutouts this season, the most since Tech had six in all of 2002.

Starters Tale of the Tape

        Year W-L     ERA     IP/PG           ER      BB/PG           SO/PG           B/Avg.        2002    40-11   3.53    402.2/5.9       158     82/1.2          326/4.8         .263        2003    32-12   3.97    333.1/5.4       147     113/1.8         243/3.9         .254        2004    31-12   4.72    366.1/5.6       192     126/1.9         325/5.0         .262        2005    31-10   4.23    330.0/5.2       155     154/2.4         270/4.2         .270        2006    29-11   5.06    346.2/5.1       195     125/1.8         276/4.1         .295        2007    18-15   4.77    284.2/5.0       151     81/1.4          220/3.9         .297        2008     11-2   2.77    126.2/5.8       39      44/2.0          113/5.1         .215

Freshmen Lead Tech Offense

Tech’s freshman class has also made a big impact on the offensive success of the Yellow Jackets in 2008, as they are tops among the four classes in average (.322), home runs (11), RBI (47) and stolen bases (14). Jeff Rowland, Georgia Tech’s top hitter in 2008, headlines that freshman class with a .424 average while he, Derek Dietrich (.333), Thomas Nichols (.304), Chase Burnette (.278), and Cole Leonida (.091) have combined to go 76-for-236 this season.

Tech’s senior class is batting a combined .298 while the juniors are hitting .290.

Home, Sweet Home

Georgia Tech is 15-2 within the friendly confines of Russ Chandler Stadium in 2008, and 2-3 in games away from home. The Yellow Jackets have won 10 of their last 11 home games entering this week after opening the season by winning their first five at Russ Chandler Stadium.

While Tech’s hitters seem to produce fairly equal results home and away, Tech’s pitching staff much prefers playing at Russ Chandler Stadium, where they have a 2.31 ERA and are holding opponents to a .218 average as compared to a .306 average and 7.59 ERA on the road.

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