No. 14 Tech Baseball Hosts Illinois-Chicago in Weekend Series

Feb. 15, 2007

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s 14th-ranked baseball team will continue its nine-game homestand with a weekend series against Illinois-Chicago beginning this Friday at 4 p.m. at Russ Chandler Stadium. The Yellow Jackets (1-2) and Flames (1-2) will also square off at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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Tech earned its first win of the season Tuesday evening with an 11-8 win over Kennesaw State in 10 innings. Preseason all-America catcher Matt Wieters picked up the win in relief by tossing the final two innings and also delivered the game-winning hit with a three-run home run in the bottom of the 10th inning. The Tech bullpen of Wieters, LHP Tim Ladd, RHP Brad Rulon and RHP Jared Hyatt combined to allow just three runs (only one of which was earned) on six hits while striking out eight in 9.1 innings of work against the Owls.

The Jackets’ offense is led by RF Wally Crancer (.375-1-1) and CF Danny Payne (.364-1-4) while 1B Luke Murton 3B Patrick Long and DH Tony Plagman are all hitting .333 on the season. Rookies Long, Plagman, 2B Jeff Ussery and OF Curtis Dupart have all appeared in all three of the Jackets’ games this season.

GAME COVERAGE: Friday and Saturday’s games will be broadcast on ACC Select (gatech.playonsports.tv), the Atlantic Coast Conference’s premier online live video service. Live statistics on the internet for all three contests will be available at www.ramblinwreck.com.

Jackets’ Potent Offense Will Be Key to Early Success
The Yellow Jackets led the ACC with a .319 batting average during the 2004 season and a .333 team average in 2005. In 2006, Georgia Tech finished fourth in the league with a .318 average, as only 15 points separated the Jackets from NC State, who led the ACC with a .333 average. Despite losing players that made up over 50 percent of Tech’s hits, runs, home runs and RBI’s from a year ago, Tech will rely on the strength of their offense early on in 2007, returning four starters that hit .320 or above in 2006 while adding three talented freshmen to the mix. With the return of Danny Payne and the addition of rookie second baseman Jeff Ussery, the Jackets have dual threats on the basepaths, while Payne, Matt Wieters and Luke Murton return as powerful threats at the plate. Overall, Tech has hit over .300 as a team in 22 of the last 24 years, and has averaged at least seven runs per game every year since 1981. Tech has led the ACC in batting in six years (1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005) under Danny Hall.

Not to Discount the Bullpen…
Georgia Tech’s pitching staff was bolstered by strong efforts from the bullpen in 2006, and that group remains essentially in tact for 2007. Relievers pitched 258 innings in 68 games, posting a 3.56 ERA and a 21-7 record with 18 saves last season. In the five NCAA Regional & Super Regional games, Tech’s bullpen posted a 0.00 ERA in 8.1 innings while recording two saves. Despite a rough first weekend, the Yellow Jacket bullpen is returning to its 2006 form, as evidenced by its most recent performance against Kennesaw State Tuesday night.

        Bullpen Tale of the Tape in 2007        Overall         W-L     SV      ERA     IP      ER      Opp avg.        Georgia Tech    1-0     0       5.17    15.2    9       .302        Opponents               1-1     2       6.60    15.8    11      .200

Some noteworthy performances for the Tech Bullpen this season: Opponent IP ER ERA opp avg Kennesaw State, Feb. 13 9.1 1 0.96 .188

“5” – The Magic Number
Since the arrival of pitching coach Bobby Moranda prior to the 2002 season, the Yellow Jackets are 172-19 (.901) when allowing five runs or less. The Yellow Jackets were 36-5 when allowing five runs or less in 2006. Tech went 38-2 in 2002, 34-2 in 2003, 33-3 in 2004 and 31-7 in 2005 when allowing five runs or less. When allowing six or more runs, the Yellow Jackets are 64-75 since 2002.

Team to Go Bald for Charity
The 2007 Georgia Tech baseball team has joined forces with the St. Baldrick’s foundation to raise money to fund cancer research for kids. The team has set the goal of raising at least $5,000 by St. Patrick’s Day, or St. Baldrick’s Day, as coined by the organization. For every $250 raised by March 17, one Georgia Tech baseball player will shave his head in a head-shaving “ceremony” after the game. To date, fans have donated over $3,250 to the cause, resulted in at least 12 players to have their heads shaved after the Boston College baseball game on 3/17. For more information, go to http://www.stbaldricks.org/events/event_info.html?EventID=121.

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