Jackets Face Blue Devils in First ACC Road Test

March 22, 2007

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech (12-10, 3-3 ACC) returns to conference action this weekend when the Yellow Jackets travel to Durham, NC for their first ACC road series of the season, facing the Duke Blue Devils (17-7, 0-6 ACC) at Jack Coombs Field. First pitch for Friday’s game is set for 3 p.m. and the Jackets and Blue Devils will square off at 2 p.m. Saturday before concluding the series Sunday at 1 p.m.

GAME COVERAGE: All three games can be heard on WREK-Radio (91.1 FM/www.wrek.org). Friday’s contest available on ACC Select (gatech.playonsports.tv). Livestats available at www.ramblinwreck.com.

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Georgia Tech is coming off a solid 3-1 week in which they took two games off Boston College over the weekend and defeated Georgia State, 3-0, Wednesday evening.

In the last four games, the Tech pitching staff has held its opponent to 2.75 runs per game while tossing a pair of complete-game shutouts during the span.

The Yellow Jacket offense is led by outfielders Danny Payne (.397-1-14-8) and Wally Crancer (.372-4-19), catcher Matt Wieters (.333-5-25) and DH/1B Tony Plagman (.341-0-4-3), while SS Michael Fisher is also hitting over .300 for the season. Georgia Tech, as a team, is hitting .288 on the year.

Georgia Tech leads Duke, 72-23

Georgia Tech leads Duke, 72-23, in a series that dates to 1903, when Duke University was known as Trinity College. The Yellow Jackets and Blue Devils have played at least three games every year since 1989, and at least once every season since 1980.

The Yellow Jackets have won 19-straight games against the Blue Devils dating back to April 7, 2001, when the Blue Devils won the second game of a three-game series, 8-7, at Jack Coombs Field. Since that game, the Jackets have won seven-straight off the Blue Devils in Durham.

The Yellow Jackets are 38-7 against Duke under head coach Danny Hall, with the skipper owning an 11-2 record against the Blue Devils in Durham.

Georgia Tech is 24-9 all-time on Duke’s home field.

Over the last five years, the Yellow Jackets have outscored the Blue Devils, 198-79, scoring an average of 11.65 runs per game to 4.65 rpg.

A Familiar Face Across the Diamond

When the Jackets and Blue Devils begin the series this weekend, multiple members of this year’s coaching staff will be squaring off against a familiar face, as former Yellow Jacket Academic All-American Matthew Boggs is in his second year as the hitting coach at Duke.

Boggs played for head coach Danny Hall from 1998-2002 and one of his teammates was Georgia Tech’s current volunteer assistant coach Wes Rynders. Associate head coach Bobby Moranda joined the Georgia Tech staff in Boggs’ final season on the Flats, a year in which the squad advanced to the 2002 College World Series.

799 and Counting…

Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall heads into the weekend needing just one victory to become the fifth active ACC head coach to earn 800 victories in his career.

Hall also has another milestone approaching: He is just nine wins shy of recording his 600th career victory at Georgia Tech. He is already the Yellow Jackets’ all-time winningest coach, passing former Yellow Jacket and current head coach of the Miami Hurricanes, Jim Morris, last season.

Jackets’ Offense Key to Early Successes

Despite losing players that made up over 50 percent of Tech’s hits, runs, home runs and RBI’s from a year ago, Tech has relied on the strength of their offense in 2007, returning four starters that hit .320 or above in 2006 while adding a strong group of talented freshmen to the mix.

The Jackets opened 2007 with a pair of losses at Georgia Southern, struggling with just a .217 average. Since then, the offense has heated up, hitting .320 with 62 extra-base hits in 15 games (4.1/gm), including a .361 clip vs. Duquesne and a .342 mark against Rutgers.

When the Jackets aren’t hitting, however, the team tends to struggle. If the Jackets hit .315 or above, they are 6-0 on the season, but when hitting below .315, Tech is 6-10. In fact, The Jackets have hit higher than .270 in just three of their 10 losses on the season.

Overall, Tech has hit over .300 as a team in 22 of the last 24 years, and has averaged at least seven runs per game every year since 1981. Tech has led the ACC in batting in six years (1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005) under Danny Hall.

Relying on a Veteran Bullpen

Georgia Tech’s pitching staff was bolstered by strong efforts from the bullpen in 2006, and that group remains essentially in tact for 2007. The Yellow Jackets are looking for the relievers to return to form of `06, when they pitched 258 innings in 68 games, posting a 3.56 ERA and a 21-7 record with 18 saves. In the five NCAA Regional & Super Regional games, Tech’s bullpen posted a 0.00 ERA in 8.1 innings while recording two saves.

        Bullpen Tale of the Tape in 2007        Overall         W-L     SV      ERA     IP      ER      Opp avg.        Georgia Tech    4-2     4       5.19    86.2    50      .287        Opponents               6-2     5       7.02    84.2    66      .278

Starting Pitching Comes Around

Over the last four games, Tech starters have allowed just 1.25 runs per game while tossing a pair of complete-game shutouts. The four starters (David Duncan, Eddie Burns, John Goodman, Ryan Turner) combined have a 0.91 ERA in 29.2 IP and have given up just 20 hits (5.0/gm), five runs, three earned runs (0.75 pg) and struck out 24 (6.0 pg) while walking only eight (2.0 pg). Opponents are hitting just .190 off the Yellow Jacket starters during the span.

Starting Lineup is Anyone’s Guess

Through the first 22 games of the 2007 season, Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall has used 20 different lineup cards, with the only repeat coming against Rutgers the first weekend of March and vs. Kennesaw State last week.

The only two constants in all 14 lineups have been those of preseason All-Americans Matt Wieters and Danny Payne. Payne has been Tech’s leadoff hitter and starting center fielder in all 21 games, while Wieters has batted third, splitting time as the catcher, first baseman and DH.

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