No. 12 Jackets to Play Miami in Battle of ACC Unbeatens

March 24, 2011

Live TV: Friday and Sunday (CSS); Saturday (FS South)
Live Audio: WREK 91.1
Live Stats: GameTracker

Game Notes

ATLANTA – The 12th-ranked Georgia Tech baseball team will leave the state of Georgia for the first time this season, traveling to Miami for a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference weekend series in Coral Gables, Fla. The Yellow Jackets and the Hurricanes will play three televised games, beginning on Friday at 7 p.m. (CSS), Saturday at 1 p.m. (FS South) and Sunday at 1 p.m. (CSS). Both teams are the last two to remain undefeated in ACC play.

Pitching Matchup (Georgia Tech vs. Miami)
Friday: RHP Mark Pope (5-0, 0.23, 38.2 IP, 32 SO) vs. LHP Bryan Radziewski (3-1, 1.95 ERA, 27.2 IP, 36 SO)
Saturday: LHP Jed Bradley (3-0, 1.44, 31.1 IP, 43 SO) vs. RHP E.J. Encinosa (1-2, 3.41 ERA, 29.0 IP, 23 SO)
Sunday: RHP Buck Farmer (3-1, 2.43, 29.2 IP, 33 SO) vs. RHP Eric Whaley (4-1, 2.61 ERA, 31.0 IP, 32 SO)

BROADCAST INFORMATION
All three games of the series will be televised this weekend, with Friday and Sunday action on CSS, and Saturday’s matchup on Fox Sports South. Jason Solodkin (play-by-play) and Wicho Hernandez (color) will have the call for Friday and Sunday’s broadcast on CSS, and Mike Hogewood (play-by-play) and Larry Conley (color) will be the commentators on Saturday. The GT radio broadcast can be heard over the air on WREK (91.1), the flagship station of Georgia Tech baseball, and online at RamblinWreck.com.

SERIES PREVIEW

Georgia Tech (18-4) enters the week ranked as high as No. 8 inthe Perfect Game USA Top-25 poll. The Jackets are also ranked inthe Collegiate Baseball Newspaper (12), USA Today/ESPN Coaches'(15), Baseball America (17) and National Collegiate BaseballWriter’s Association (22) polls.
Tech is on a season-best 13-game win streak after defeating Georgiain midweek play on Tuesday … The current win streak is thelongest in the nation.
Friday’s game will be the 76th all-time meeting between the twoschools in a series that dates back to 1958 … Georgia Tech andMiami are the only two teams that remain unbeaten in ACC playthrough two weekends of action.
Miami returns 16 letterwinners at seven starters (six positionplayers and one pitcher) from a 2010 team that finished with a43-20 record, and reached the Gainesville Super Regional.
The Hurricanes (14-8, 6-0 ACC), currently on a nine-game win streakof their own, are coming off a pair of midweek wins UCF and FloridaGulf Coast … Miami is batting .246 as a team, led by outfielderZeke DeVoss’ .295 average (23-for-78) … The Cane’s pitching staffboasts a 2.41 ERA, while the weekend starters are a combined 8-3.

SERIES HISTORY
Miami leads the all-time series by a 47-26-2 record …The Jackets are 16-24 against the Hurricanes since head coach Danny Hall’s arrival on the Flats in 1994 … Tech won two out of three in last year’s series at Russ Chandler Stadium.

Last Meeting: Jed Bradley pitched six strong innings for his conference-leading ninth win, and Derek Dietrich and Matt Skole each delivered three hits to lift sixth-ranked Georgia Tech past No. 5 Miami, 6-3, on May 16, 2010 in the deciding game of a key Atlantic Coast Conference baseball series at Russ Chandler Stadium.

QUICK HITS

Georgia Tech currently leads the Atlantic Coast Conference inhitting (.338), while second in pitching (2.14 ERA) … Enteringthe week, the Jackets rank fourth nationally in bothstatistics.
Freshman centerfielder Kyle Wren leads the ACC in batting average (.467), hits (42)and runs scored (30) … Wren’s 42 hits are the second most in thenation, while his batting average ranks 10th.
Junior Matt Skole and freshman Daniel Palka rank second in the league in home runs with five,while Skole is second in RBI (28) … Skole has been on a rant inhis last three games, with nine hits and 12 RBI … He was 5-for-5,with two home runs and eight RBI against Georgia on Tuesday.
Junior Mark Pope (5-0), the Jackets Friday starter, leads the ACC infive different categories: Wins (5), Innings Pitched (38.2), ERA(0.23), Complete games (2) and shutouts (2) … Pope has allowedjust one earned run all season, and has tossed 34 consecutivescoreless innings since last allowing an earned run to cross theplate His 0.23 ERA is the third lowest in the NCAA … All threeweekend starters have combined for an 11-1 record, and a 1.28ERA.
Pope’s .900 career winning percentage (18-2) ties with him formerYellow Jacket Ed LaFitte for the best all-time percentage for aGeorgia Tech pitcher with at least 10 wins … LaFitte set therecord in a two-year career from 1906-1907.

GEORGIA TECH SWEEPS ACC WEEKLY HONORS
Mark Pope earned his second straight Atlantic Coast Conference Pitcher of the Week honor, while Yellow Jackets freshman outfielder Kyle Wren was named ACC Player of the Week for the period of March 14-21.

Wren batted .591 with nine runs scored, 13 hits, three steals, a .727 slugging percentage and a .609 on-base percentage to lead Georgia Tech to a 5-0 record on the week, while Pope scattered three hits and one unearned run over eight innings to improve to 5-0 on the season with a win over NC State on Friday.

THEN THERE WERE TWO
After opening ACC play with sweeps over Maryland and NC State, Georgia Tech joins Miami as the only two remaining unbeatens conference action so far through two weekends. The Hurricanes are 6-0 in ACC action after sweeps over Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

MARCH-ING ON
It has been quite a month for Danny Hall’s team, as the Jackets have gone 13-1 so far in March. After losing the first game of the month, Tech has gone on to win 13 straight. It has historically been the best month in all of coach Hall’s 18 years. Tech is 245-70 (.777) in March since 1994.

QUITE A HOME STRETCH
Georgia Tech concluded a 16-game home stand with the NC State series last weekend. The Jackets had quite a strong showing on the Flats during the stretch, going 14-2 and running a streak of 12 straight wins. Tech outscored its opponents 128-48 over the 16 games.

TOP OF THE HEAP
There’s no secret to Georgia Tech’s success thus far in 2011 — good hitting and good pitching. Through 22 games, the Yellow Jackets are at the top in hitting and second in pitching in the ACC, boasting a .338 team batting average, with a league-high 262 hits and a .478 slugging average. They’re also third in on-base percentage (.422). The Jackets also are getting it done on the mound. They are the only team to have a complete game — Mark Pope has both. The Jackets’ 47 earned runs are tops in the league, while Tech pitchers have whiffed 196, fourth in the conference.

Tech is fourth in the nation in both hitting and pitching in the first release of statistics by the NCAA for the 2011 season. The Jackets rank No. 6 in total hits.

STARTING THREE ARE KEY
Georgia Tech’s weekend rotation of Mark Pope, Jed Bradley and Buck Farmer has keyed the team’s success so far this season. The 1-2-3 punch is 11-1 on the season, holding a combined 1.28 ERA, having allowed just 14 earned runs in 99.2 innings. Pope has paved the way with a conference-leading 0.23 earned run average (third in the nation), and has yielded just one earned run all year (38.2 IP). Bradley leads the crew in strikeouts with 43, while Farmer (33) and Pope (32) are close behind.

GOING THE DISTANCE
Junior Mark Pope has made a habit of pitching complete games recently, tossing back-to-back complete game shutouts against Rutgers and Maryland this season. Pope is the only pitcher so far in the ACC to reach the nine-inning plateau, and has done it twice.

….AND TIED FOR TOP CAREER WINNING PERCENTAGE
With a 9-2 win over NC State, Pope improved his career record to 18-2 overall. His .900 winning percentage moved him into a tie for first place on the all-time list at Georgia Tech for a pitcher with a minimum of 10 wins.

Pope is tied with Ed LaFitte, (18-2, .900) who set the record in a two-year career that from 1906-1907.

TABLE-SETTER
Freshman Kyle Wren has been the “table-setter” for the very young Yellow Jacket squad in 2011. Tech’s leadoff man leads the conference batting average (.467), hits (42) and runs scored (30). Wren has reached base safely in all 22 games, with at least one hit in 20 of them. The freshman centerfielder has 12 multi-hit games on the season, including five against Maryland on March 12, which tied for the most by an ACC player in a game this season.

DEFENSIVE SWITCH PAYS OFF
After opening the season with a 5-4 record, head coach Danny Hall made a defensive switch that has pay dividends during the team’s current 13-game win streak. Junior Jacob Esch and freshman Mott Hyde switched positions in the middle infield, with Esch moving from second base to shortstop and Hyde just the opposite. Since the flop, Esch has turned 10 double plays, combining with Hyde for eight of them. Georgia Tech had turned just five DP’s in the previous nine games.

OFFENSE HEATING UP
Georgia Tech has been hot at the plate during its win streak, batting .357 as a team with 33 doubles, four triples and 12 (of the team’s 14) home runs. The Jackets are averaging 9.2 runs and 12.9 hits per game during that time span. Freshmen Kyle Wren (.491) and and junior Jake Davies (.415) have set the pace at during the 13 games. The team was batting just .308 and averaging just 5.6 runs in the previous nine games.

CREDIT THE HURLERS TOO
Much can be credited to the pitching staff, which has allowed just 26 earned runs in the last 13 games for an average of 2.0 per game. The group is holding opposing hitters to a .200 average during the stretch.

The bullpen has also fared well during the streak, holding a 1.62 ERA, having allowed just 27 hits in 32 2/3 relief innings. Sophomore Luke Bard has led the way with a win and two saves, allowing just three runs in his last six outings (13.0 IP).

SKOLE HAS CAREER NIGHT AGAINST DAWGS’
Junior third baseman Matt Skole had a big night against arch-rival Georgia on Tuesday, with a career-best five hits, two home runs (one grand slam) and eight RBI.

In the process, Skole record his 50th multiple hit game, his 36th multiple RBI game and belted the 41st and 42nd home runs of his career. He is now tied for seventh place in the Tech record books for career homers with Billy Parham (1986-88) and Mark Fischer (1995-97).

Ironically, the last time Skole hit a grand slam it came against the same team, on April 14, 2010.

DAVIES’ PROVIDES RELIEF IN ANOTHER WAY
Entering the 2011 season, the Jackets had big shoes to fill at first base after the departure of All-American Tony Plagman. Junior Jake Davies, who served as one of the primary relievers in the bullpen the past two seasons with over 40 career appearances on the mound, has blossomed into the new role as Tech’s everyday first baseman.

Davies had just eight hits in 37 at-bats over the past two seasons, but is now second on the team in average with a .403 clip (27-for-67). He has four doubles, three home runs and 14 RBI in 15 starts.

He is batting .500 (9-for-18) with two home runs and seven RBI over the last four games, and has three hits in each of the past two.

PALKA PACKING POWER
Freshman Daniel Palka has been regarded by head coach Danny Hall as the most powerful hitter he has ever seen on the Flats. The freshman from Lyman, S.C. has provided the numbers to back up his coaches’ statement, with nine doubles, five home runs and a .648 slugging percentage. He leads the conference in total bases with 57 on the season.

LEFTOVERS FROM LAST WEEKEND
Georgia Tech improved to 6-0 in conference play after a sweep of NC State last weekend … Tech batted .389 against the Wolfpack, averaging 10.7 runs per game and 14.7 hits per game … The pitching staff was most impressive, allowing just 17 hits and six runs total in the three games (1.33 ERA).

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