May 15, 2001
GEORGIA TECH FACES DUKE IN ACC TOURNAMENT
Georgia Tech, the nation’s 15th-ranked team according to USA Today/Baseball Weekly enters the 2001 Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament in Fort Mill, S.C. as the No. 4 seed and will face 5th-seeded Duke on Wednesday at 10 a.m. The game will be broadcast on the radio on WREK-FM (91.1 in Atlanta) and live stats will be available on the internet at www.ramblinwreck.com.
Tech (39-16, 13-11 ACC) enters tournament looking to defend last year’s championship, and the Yellow Jackets enter Wednesday’s game with Duke on a five-game winning streak in the tournament. The remainder of Wednesday’s first round matchups include #1 seed Florida State against either #8 NC State or #9 Maryland at 1:30 p.m., #2 Clemson versus #7 Virginia at 5 p.m. and #3 Wake Forest versus #6 North Carolina at 8:30 p.m.
TECH IN THE ACC TOURNAMENT
Including the 2000 run to the ACC championship, Georgia Tech has captured five ACC titles since joining the league for the 1980 season. Tech won the league crown in 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988 prior to the 2000 championship. Overall, the Yellow Jackets own a 44-33 record in 21 previous tournament appearances including the perfect 5-0 mark last season.
Prior to last year, Tech had not enjoyed much success in the tournament under Danny Hall, as the Yellow Jackets were just 8-12 in the event before the 5-0 run last year. Tech won more than two games in the ACC Tournament last year for the first time since playing for the championship in 1991. Under Hall, the Yellow Jackets are now 13-12 in ACC Tournament play.
SERIES VERSUS DUKE
Georgia Tech won two of three from Duke in Durham earlier this season, and the Yellow Jackets now lead the all-time series with the Blue Devils, 55-22, dating back to 1903. However dating back to the 1998 ACC Tournament, Tech is just 7-5 against Duke. Prior to this most recent stretch, Tech won 20 of the previous 22 games against Duke. The Yellow Jackets are 20-7 against the Blue Devils under head coach Danny Hall.
Tech and Duke faced each other in the first round of the ACC Tournament last year in Fort Mill, with the Yellow Jackets taking a 9-3 win over the Blue Devils behind a strong pitching performance from Steve Kelly while outfielder Jason Basil went 4-for-4 and hit for the cycle in that game en route to earning tournament MVP honors. Overall, Tech is 5-2 against Duke in ACC Tournament play
All-America third baseman Mark Teixeira, the 2000 National Player of the Year and a top candidate for the first overall draft selection in 2001, finally returned to the lineup on May 11 at North Carolina after missing 10 weeks with a broken right ankle suffered against Elon on February 23. Teixeira suffered the injury while he converged on a pop fly to left field and attempted to dodge left fielder Matthew Boggs and shortstop Victor Menocal.
Teixeira has been in uniform over the last month, taking batting practice and ground balls at third base, but he had not returned to the lineup as he worked to regain lateral mobility in his ankle. He was finally inserted into the lineup during the final weekend of the regular season in Chapel Hill as the designated hitter after missing 45 games.
“Tex” showed no rust from the layoff, lacing the first pitch that he saw for a double down the right field line. He went 3-for-4 with a RBI in his first game back, and he went 8-for-14 with a homer, two doubles, seven RBI and four runs scored in the three-game series with the Tar Heels.
Teixeira’s return also provided a lift for the Tech offense, as the Yellow Jackets as a team hit .382 and averaged 11.3 runs in the three-game series at North Carolina.
PARKER AND WATCHKO INVITED TO TEAM USA TRIALS
Tech sophomore catcher Tyler Parker and sophomore closer Jeff Watchko were among 19 collegiate players invited to participate in the 2001 USA Baseball National Team Trials that will be held in Tucson, Ariz., June 16-19. The USA National Team will be selected from a pool of approximately 20-29 players, of which an additional 5-10 have yet to be determined. Team USA will play approximately 30 games on the Red, White and Blue Summer Tour, beginning on June 22 in Japan.
LEWIS A SEMIFINALIST FOR THE HOWSER TROPHY
Shortstop/second baseman Richard Lewis is one of 20 college standouts to be named a semifinalist for the 2001 Dick Howser Trophy. Lewis, who was a first-team All-ACC and a second-team All-America selection last year, is a semifinalist for the same award won by teammate Mark Teixeira in 2000. The award is presented by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and goes to the top college baseball player in the nation. The winner will be announced during the College World Series.
QUITE A TRIO
Tech’s top three freshmen pitchers — Kyle Bakker, Matt Lorenzo and Brian Burks — have been especially impressive this season as rookies. The trio has posted a nearly perfect 12-1 record and combined for a 2.79 ERA. Bakker have enjoyed success as both starters and relievers, while Burks has been a main weapon out of the Tech bullpen all season.
OFFENSE AMONG THE NATION’S BEST
Despite playing much of the season without the 2000 National Player of the Year Mark Teixeira, Georgia Tech still ranks as one of the top offensive teams in the ACC and the country this spring. As of games played entering this week, the Yellow Jackets are in the top five in the nation in both batting (.349) and scoring (9.8 runs/game). In this week’s ACC statistics, Tech leads the conference in batting (.349), runs per game (9.8), slugging (.528), on base percentage (.433), triples (19), runs scored (541), hits (705) and RBI (493).
After batting a school-record .342 last season, Tech is hitting a robust .349 this year.