No. 10 Tech and No. 1 Georgia Square off on Baseball Diamond Tuesday

April 13, 2009

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ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s 10th-ranked baseball team will make the trek to Athens to take on No. 1 Georgia in the first of five-straight road games for the Yellow Jackets this week. Tech (21-8-1) and Georgia (29-6) square off for the first time this season Tuesday at 7 p.m., after the first game between the two teams was cancelled due to rain. The following day, the Yellow Jackets will travel across town to face Georgia State (23-11) in a 6 p.m. contest in Panthersville.

The Yellow Jackets are coming off their first tie game in 24 years to conclude a weekend in which they went 1-1-1 against the nation’s 11th-ranked Virginia Cavaliers. Georgia has won four-straight, including a three-game sweep of Kentucky last weekend to move into first place in the SEC standings, and enters the week ranked as high as No. 2 in the polls.

Georgia State is 4-1 in their last five games and currently stands second in the CAA standings. The Panthers are coming off a series win over Old Dominion and will travel to Samford Tuesday before hosting the Jackets Wednesday evening.

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 the NCBWA (8), USA Today (8) and Collegiate Baseball (9) polls. Georgia Tech is ranked No. 11 by Rivals.com and No. 12 by Baseball America.

Pitching Matchup (Georgia Tech vs. Georgia/Georgia State)
Tuesday – 7 p.m.: LHP Jed Bradley (1-2, 4.50) vs. LHP Chase Hawkins (3-1, 2.88)
Wednesday – 6 p.m.: RHP Kevin Jacob (4-1, 4.54) vs. RHP John Locklear (4-3, 5.19)

Senior RF Luke Murton (.367-9-33-3), junior 1B Tony Plagman (.344-8-39-4) and freshman 3B Matt Skole (.356-8-29-2) are powering the Yellow Jacket offense in 2009, while sophomore SS Derek Dietrich (.345-4-27-4) and sophomore CF Jeff Rowland (.333-4-22-11) have been hot of late.

Game Coverage

Both midweek games can be heard on WREK Radio (91.1 FM in Atlanta/www.wrek.org), while live stats will be available at Ramblinwreck.com. Tuesday’s game in Athens will also be carried on GXtra (www.georgiadogs.com), an online video service for the University of Georgia.

Tech vs. Georgia (Georgia leads, 195-148-2)

Georgia Tech and Georgia will continue their baseball rivalry at Foley Field Tuesday, meeting for the 346th time in history. The Bulldogs own a 195-148-2 edge in a series that dates to April 21, 1898.

The Bulldogs hold the upper-hand in games played on Georgia’s home field, going 111-50 against the Yellow Jackets in Athens. Georgia won the last two games played at Foley Field, both in last year’s NCAA Tournament. Georgia Tech was the victor in the last regular season game played at Foley Field, defeating the Bulldogs 11-1 on May 7, 2008. It was the first time the Yellow Jackets had won a game played in Athens since the 2004 season.

Tech and Georgia met five times in the 2008 season, with the Yellow Jackets winning the first two games, 9-4 and 11-1, before the Bulldogs captured a 3-2 win at Turner Field and eliminated Tech from the NCAA Tournament with 8-0 and 16-8 victories in Athens.

The Yellow Jackets are 31-26 against the Bulldogs since Danny Hall’s arrival in 1994.

Tech vs. Georgia State (Tech leads, 52-8)

The Yellow Jackets and Panthers will be squaring off for the 61st time in history and second time this season when the two teams meet Wednesday. Tech enters the contest with a 52-8 lead in the series, despite dropping a 10-1 decision to the Panthers earlier this season. Prior to that loss, the Yellow Jackets had won three-straight against Georgia State.

Tech is 22-5 against the Panthers on their home field, and 28-4 vs. Georgia State under head coach Danny Hall.

EARLIER THIS SEASON: State belted three homers and collected 12 hits off four pitchers, and starter John Locklear allowed one run over five innings as the Panthers stopped Tech, 10-1, at Russ Chandler Stadium. Locklear scattered four hits and five walks over five innings, getting just one strikeout. The Jackets stranded eight baserunners against him, five in scoring position.

Jackets Tested

The Yellow Jackets are nearing the end of one of the toughest stretches they have on the 2009 schedule. The Yellow Jackets will have played 12 games over the 19-day span of March 27 through April 14. While that may not seem like much (especially in today’s 56-game schedule in a condensed amount of time), 10 of those 12 games are against teams ranked among the top-11 in the nation, with the other two coming against a Georgia Southern squad that stood at No. 26 in the rankings. Tech enters the final game of the stretch with a 5-5-1 record through the first 11 games.

A Tie in Baseball?

In his 21+ years as a head coach, Danny Hall had never experienced a tie game. It had been over 24 years since Georgia Tech had seen one, but there it was: the series finale against No. 11 Virginia finished (almost fittingly) in a 4-4 tie.

The Cavaliers had to catch a 6:45 p.m. flight back to Richmond, and thus set a deadline for 4:15 p.m. – meaning no inning could begin after that time. The two teams began the top of the ninth inning just before 4 p.m. on April 12, and the Yellow Jackets escaped by just giving up one run in the frame – leaving the bases loaded and the score tied, 4-4, headed into the bottom of the ninth. The Jackets went 1-2-3 in their half of the inning, but by then the 4:15 p.m. travel curfew had already passed, thus the game ended in a 4-4 tie.

The two teams split the first two games of the series, with both teams winning in their last at bat. Tech scored four runs over the final three innings of the series opener, winning on an RBI single by Tony Plagman in the bottom of the ninth. Just a few hours later, the Cavaliers used ninth-inning heroics of their own to win 11-10.

Yellow Jackets in the RPI

Georgia Tech enters the week ranked No. 2 in the nation in the latest RPI (source: BoydsWorld.com). (The NCAA releases its RPI just once a week, beginning later in the season).

The Atlantic Coast Conference is well represented in the most updated RPI, with three teams ranked among the top five in the nation. Georgia Tech leads all conference teams while North Carolina (3), Miami (5), Virginia (14), Clemson (15) and Florida State (21) all rank in the top-25. Only two ACC teams stand outside of the top-70 in the RPI.

Georgia Tech is scheduled to play no fewer than 17 games against teams that currently appear in the top-25 in the RPI this season, with eight of those contests coming away from Russ Chandler Stadium.

Georgia currently appears at No. 16 in the RPI.

In terms of schedule strength, Georgia Tech’s is ranked No. 13 while Georgia’s schedule stands at No. 11 in the latest rankings.

Road Warriors

Georgia Tech has played nine games away from Russ Chandler Stadium, including a string of seven over a nine-game span in late March. While Tech’s pitching staff clearly favors the friendly confines of the Rusty C, a couple of the top offensive threats on the squad relish the time away from home.

Sophomore shortstop Derek Dietrich is batting .316 (24-for-76) with two home runs, three triples and a double in addition to scoring 21 runs and driving in 15 (RBI) in the 21 home games the Yellow Jackets have played in 2009. Those numbers may sound pretty good, but he is batting at a .405 (15-for-37) clip with two home runs and a pair of doubles while scoring 13 and driving in 12 (RBI) in just nine road games – those are even better numbers.

Freshman third baseman Matt Skole’s average has dropped to .312 (24-for-77) in 21 home games, and the Woodstock, Ga., native has just 10 extra-base hits (six doubles, four home runs) at Russ Chandler Stadium. He does, however, lead the team with a .439 (18-for-41) average in Tech’s nine road games. Skole has hit four of his eight home runs as well as three of his nine doubles away from the Rusty C and has an .805 slugging percentage and .465 on base percentage on the road as compared to .545 (slg%) and .369 (obp) at home.

As a team, the Yellow Jackets are batting .313 while scoring 8.3 runs per game on the road and .309 with 8.5 runs per game at Russ Chandler Stadium.

Wrecked by Rain

The 2009 season has marked several rainouts for teams throughout the nation, and the Yellow Jackets have not been immune to the delays and cancellations. The latest cancellation came April 1, when Georgia Tech was scheduled to travel to Mercer for a single game. That came one week after Tech’s highly-anticipated home showdown against No. 1-ranked Georgia was also cancelled due to rain.

This season, the Yellow Jackets have had five games cancelled due to weather – four to rain and the fifth, snow. Due to all of the cancellations, Georgia Tech has played fewer games than any other team in the ACC in 2009.

Jackets to Hit the Road One More Time

Due to all the cancellations this season, Georgia Tech has added another game to the 2009 schedule. The day after former associate head coach Bobby Moranda’s squad (Western Carolina) visits Russ Chandler Stadium, the Yellow Jackets will travel to Cullowhee, N.C., to face the Catamounts on their home field. That April 22nd game will begin at 6 p.m.

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