May 13, 2009
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s seventh-ranked baseball team wraps up the regular season at Duke with a chance to capture the Atlantic Coast Conference’s regular season crown. The two teams will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, 2 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday at Jack Coombs Field.
The Yellow Jackets (33-13-1, 16-8-1 ACC) have to win all three games this weekend to finish atop the league standings but will have their hands full against the Blue Devils (32-21, 13-14 ACC), who haven’t been swept in a weekend series all season.
Both teams are coming off midweek losses, as Tech dropped a 7-5 decision to Georgia Tuesday at Turner Field while Liberty stopped Duke, 4-1, in Durham.
Georgia Tech was a consensus preseason top-25 team that moved into the top-10 in the season’s first official polls. The Yellow Jackets have been ranked as high as No. 3 this season (by Collegiate Baseball in March) and currently appear among the top-10 in all five polls, peaking at No. 7 in the Baseball America Poll. Collegiate Baseball, USA Today, Rivals.com and the NCBWA all have the Jackets listed at No. 8 in their respective polls.
Pitching Matchup (Georgia Tech vs. Duke)
Thursday – 7 p.m.: RHP Deck McGuire (9-0, 2.67) vs. LHP Christopher Manno (5-4, 4.31)
Friday – 2 p.m.: RHP Brandon Cumpton (3-1, 4.56) vs. RHP Andrew Wolcott (6-3, 2.65)
Saturday – 1 p.m.: LHP Jed Bradley (2-2, 6.37) vs. TBA
Senior RF Luke Murton (.379-15-50-4), junior 1B Tony Plagman (.348-15-63-4) and freshman 3B Matt Skole (.305-13-46-2) are powering the Yellow Jacket offense in 2009, while sophomore OF/DH Chase Burnette (.394-7-24-1), CF Jeff Rowland (.343-8-31-17) and sophomore SS Derek Dietrich (.339-9-48-5) have been hot of late.
The entire series can be heard on WREK Radio (91.1 FM in Atlanta/www.wrek.org), while live stats will be available at Ramblinwreck.com.
Tech vs. Duke (Tech leads, 76-25)
Duke avoided a three-game sweep by the Yellow Jackets in 2008 to earn its 25th win against Georgia Tech, but the Yellow Jackets still lead the series 76-25, against the Blue Devils. The Jackets have dropped just two games – one in 2007 and the finale a year ago – to the Blue Devils since the 2001 season, posting a 23-2 record over the last 25 games.
Tech is 26-10 against the Blue Devils in Durham, and 9-1 in the last 10 games played at Jack Coombs Field. The Jackets have posted a 42-9 record against Duke since Danny Hall’s arrival in 1994, with five of those nine losses coming by just one run.
Hall Meets Former Yellow Jacket
When Georgia Tech and Duke square off this weekend, it will pit current Blue Devil hitting coach Matthew Boggs against his former head coach Danny Hall. From 1998-2002, Boggs served as an infielder and outfielder for Hall’s Georgia Tech teams, and his career culminated with a trip to Omaha in his senior season. Then a third-baseman for the Jackets, Boggs had the best year of his career, batting .363 with 12 doubles, 43 RBI and 12 stolen bases and was tabbed to ESPN The Magazine’s Academic All-America second team. Boggs went on to serve as an assistant coach at Georgia Southern and Tulane before being tabbed to his current position as the hitting coach and recruiting coordinator for the Blue Devil baseball program in 2006.
Haniger Tabbed Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award Finalist
While catcher Jason Haniger continues to rack up athletic and academic honors, the senior has been recognized for his work off the field and away from the classroom as well. In March, Haniger was named one of 30 candidates for the 2009 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, which recognizes exceptional senior baseball student-athletes that excel in the classroom and competition but also give back to the community and are of honorable character.
On April 15, the list of candidates was narrowed to 10 finalists, and Haniger is one of three ACC baseball players included in the list of finalists for the award. A portion of the vote is decided by fans, who can log onto www.seniorclassaward.com daily (through May 31) to vote, or they may text BSB6 to 839863.
In 2008, Georgia Tech nearly doubled its home run output from the 2007 season and marked the biggest increase in home runs from one year to the next in school history. Last season, the Yellow Jackets belted 92 home runs, the seventh-best single season mark in school history and the fourth-most since Hall’s arrival in 1994.
This season, the Yellow Jackets have smacked an ACC-leading 96 home runs, which ranks sixth in the nation and fifth all-time in school history.
The Yellow Jackets have eclipsed the 90-home run mark just 11 times since the program’s inception in the late 1890’s, with seven of those seasons coming under head coach Danny Hall.
Tech’s 96 homers have come in 47 games (the fewest played by any ACC school this season), to give the Yellow Jackets an average of 2.04 home runs per game – the third-best mark in the country in 2009.
Tech is 32-7 this season when a Yellow Jacket hits a home run and 1-6-1 without.
Sitting Them Down
Not to be out-done by the offense, Tech’s young pitching staff has put in a masterful performance on the mound in 2009. The Yellow Jacket pitchers are striking out an average of 9.25 batters per game, which is the 10th-best mark in the nation and second-best in the ACC in 2009.
Bullish on the Bullpen
Georgia Tech’s pitching staff is holding opponents to a .243 batting average and 3.93 ERA over the last 16 games, but those numbers are highlighted by the impressive play of the Yellow Jacket bullpen.
During that span, the bullpen has allowed just 19 earned runs in 59.2 IP, which translates to a 2.87 ERA. That encompasses 46 total appearances by 10 different Yellow Jacket pitchers, of which 29 have been scoreless outings with only nine of the 29 runners that the 10 pitchers have inherited actually crossing the plate.
Playing With a Full Deck
With nine wins this season, Yellow Jacket ace Deck McGuire has improved to 17-1 in his career. His .941 career winning percentage currently stands as the best winning percentage in school history (for pitchers with a minimum of 10 wins), eclipsing Ed LaFitte’s school record .900 winning percentage. While it may not be noteworthy to some, what IS impressive is LaFitte set that school record with an 18-2 mark from 1906-07. That’s right – over 100 years ago.
While McGuire’s near perfection is one for the record books, another note of interest is that the sophomore hurler has 94 strikeouts this season, which is tops in the ACC and ranks 12th in the nation.
Only one former Yellow Jacket has recorded more wins while remaining undefeated in a season – Scott Erwin went 13-0 in 1988.