No. 10 Tech Travels to Wake Forest for Weekend Series

April 16, 2009

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ATLANTA – The 10th-ranked Yellow Jacket baseball team travels to Wake Forest (20-16, 6-12 ACC) for a three-game ACC series that begins this Friday at 6 p.m. The Jackets and Demon Deacons will continue the series Saturday at 6 p.m. and meet at 1 p.m. Sunday in the finale.

Georgia Tech (23-8-1, 10-5-1 ACC), which is coming off a pair of midweek wins over in-state opponents, currently stands atop the league leaderboard while Wake Forest is fifth in the Atlantic division and is coming off a 10-4 loss to UNC Greensboro Wednesday.

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 Collegiate Baseball (10) poll. Georgia Tech is ranked No. 11 by the NCBWA, USA Today and Rivals.com and No. 12 by Baseball America.

Pitching Matchup (Georgia Tech vs. Wake Forest)
Friday – 6 p.m.: RHP Deck McGuire (5-0, 2.73) vs. LHP Garrett Bullock (1-0, 5.34)
Saturday – 6 p.m.: RHP Zach Von Tersch (5-1, 5.68) vs. TBA
Sunday – 1 p.m.: RHP Brandon Cumpton (1-0, 5.33) vs. TBA

Senior RF Luke Murton (.379-9-35-3), freshman 3B Matt Skole (.366-9-31-2) and junior 1B Tony Plagman (.341-8-41-4) are powering the Yellow Jacket offense in 2009, while sophomore SS Derek Dietrich (.339-4-29-4), sophomore CF Jeff Rowland (.333-4-25-13) and senior C Jason Haniger (.331-5-30-2) have been hot of late.

GAME COVERAGE: 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. Wake Forest (Tech leads, 59-34-1)

The Yellow Jackets will face Wake Forest on their home field for the first time since the 2004 season and for just the second weekend series since 2005. Georgia Tech leads the all-time series, 59-34-1, having won seven of the last eight games between the two teams.

The two teams squared off for a three-game series in Atlanta last season, with the Yellow Jackets taking the first two games, 12-1 and 14-6, before the Demon Deacons avoided a sweep with a 7-5 win in the finale.

Wake Forest fares much better on its home field than in Atlanta though, posting a 17-14-1 record against the Yellow Jackets in Winston-Salem. The last time the two teams met in Winston-Salem, the Yellow Jackets won the series opener (9-8 in 10 innings) and finale (9-2) to take the series.

Georgia Tech is 28-16 against the Demon Deacons since head coach Danny Hall’s arrival in 1994.

Hall Meets Former Assistant

When Georgia Tech and Wake Forest square off this weekend, it will pit current Demon Deacon head coach Rick Rembielak against his former mentor Danny Hall. From 1988-93, Rembielak served as an assistant coach under Hall at Kent State, where the Golden Flashes captured the 1992 MAC Championship and were conference co-champions in 1993. After Hall departed for Georgia Tech in 1994, Rembielak was promoted to head coach at Kent State, and he went on to surpass Hall for the most wins in Golden Flashes history in 2000. Hall is 15-4 all-time against his former assistant, with a 6-1 record against Wake Forest since Rembielak’s arrival in 2005 and a 9-3 record vs. Kent State from 1996-2003.

Rembielak isn’t the only member of the Wake Forest coaching staff facing off against his former employer this weekend. Prior to his appointment as an assistant coach in 2005, Jon Palmieri served as a volunteer assistant coach under Hall from 2002-04.

Road Warriors

Georgia Tech has played 11 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.

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 .457 (21-for-46) average in Tech’s 11 road games. Skole has hit five of his nine home runs as well as four of his 10 doubles away from the Rusty C and has an .870 slugging percentage and .519 on base percentage on the road as compared to .545 (slg%) and .369 (obp) at 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 .378 (17-for-45) clip with two home runs and a trio of doubles while scoring 15 and driving in 14 (RBI) in just 11 road games – those are even better numbers.

One other team member – senior catcher Jason Haniger – is batting a crisp .370 on the road as compared to a .308 average at home, but he has more extra base hits (five doubles, four home runs) and RBI (23) at the Rusty C than he does on the road. He has tallied two doubles, one homer and seven RBI in 11 road games.

As a team, the Yellow Jackets are batting .330 while scoring 9.5 runs per game on the road and .309 with 8.5 runs per game at Russ Chandler Stadium.

Avoiding the Big Inning

A common theme in six of the Yellow Jackets’ eight losses this season has been a big inning by Tech’s opponent. In six of the eight losses, the Jackets have given up three or more runs in at least one of the innings.

Only twice this season have the Yellow Jackets lost without giving up a big inning to the opponent – a 6-5 loss at Georgia Southern (Feb. 24) and a 4-2 defeat at the hands of North Carolina (Apr. 3).

This season, when an opponent has scored at least three runs in an inning against the Yellow Jackets, Georgia Tech is 7-6. However, when an oppponent has scored more than three runs in a single inning, the Yellow Jackets are 0-5 in 2009. See below for a listing of those big-inning (4+ runs) games.

Capitalizing on the Big Inning

While Tech’s pitching staff and defense has to avoid the big inning, the offense has lived off of it in 2009, scoring four or more runs in an inning 21 times this season. When the Yellow Jackets plate four or more in an inning, Georgia Tech is 14-2 in 2009.

The only exceptions were the 9-5 loss at Virginia Tech (see above note, when Tech gave up four in the fifth) and the 11-10 loss to Virginia (again, see above note, when the Jackets yielded six in the top of the ninth).

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