No. 21 Georgia Tech Concludes 16-Game Home Stand with NC State

March 17, 2011

Game Notes

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ATLANTA – The 21st-ranked Georgia Tech baseball team will conclude its 16-game home stand with a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference series against NC State this weekend at Russ Chandler Stadium. The Yellow Jackets (14-4, 3-0 ACC), currently on a nine-game win streak, will face the Wolfpack (10-7, 1-2 ACC) on Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

Pitching Matchup (Georgia Tech vs. NC State)
Friday: RHP Mark Pope (4-0, 0.29, 30.2 IP, 25 SO) vs. RHP Cory Mazzoni (1-1, 3.29, 27.1 IP, 30 SO)
Saturday: LHP Jed Bradley (2-0, 1.85, 24.1 IP, 38 SO) vs. RHP Danny Healy (1-1, 3.97, 22.2 IP, 21 SO)
Sunday: RHP Buck Farmer (2-1, 1.96, 23.0 IP, 26 SO) vs. RHP Ethan Ogburn (0-1, 3.97, 11.1 IP, 12 SO)

BROADCAST INFORMATION
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.

LIVE STATS
Live stats for all home games and most road games will be available on RamblinWreck.com to both media and fans. Click the GameTracker logo on the website to see play-by-play, player/team stats and much more.

SERIES PREVIEW

Georgia Tech (14-4) enters the week ranked as high as No. 14 inthe Perfect Game Top-25 poll. The Jackets are also ranked in theUSA Today/ESPN Coaches’ (21), Collegiate Baseball (22), NationalCollegiate Baseball Writer’s Association (22) and Baseball America(23) polls. Tech is currently on a season-best nine-game win streakafter winning two midweek games against Georgia Southern (4-3,12-3) at Russ Chandler Stadium … This weekend’s series will closea 16-game home stand for Georgia Tech. Friday’s game will be the113th all-time meeting between the two schools … The YellowJackets went 2-2 against NC State in 2010. NC State returns 24letterwinners and eight starters (six position players and twopitchers) from a 2010 team that went 38-24 and reached the NCAAMyrtle Beach Regional. The Wolfpack (10-7) are coming off of a pairof midweek wins over Buffallo and George Mason … State opened ACCplay last weekend going 1-2 against Duke in Durham, N.C. … TheWolfpack are hitting a .293 clip as a team, while the pitchingstaff has combined for a 3.99 ERA.

SERIES HISTORY
Georgia Tech holds 66-46 all-time advantage in the series between the two schools, having won seven of the last 10 contests dating back to 2006 … The Jackets are 33-11 in games played in Atlanta, and 36-18 overall since head coach Danny Hall’s arrival on the Flats in 1994 … Georgia Tech went 2-2 against NC State in 2010 … The Wolfpack took two out of three during the regular season before the Jackets won the fourth game in a meeting during the ACC Tournament.

Last Meeting: Georgia Tech scored 11 runs combined in the sixth and seventh innings, and kept its tournament hopes alive with a 17-5 win over NC State in seven innings on May 29th at the 2010 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships. The 17 runs were the most scored by a team in the ACC Championships since 2005, when then-No. 1 seed Georgia Tech defeated Florida State by an 18-2 score in Jacksonville, Fla.

QUICK HITS

Georgia Tech sits at the top of the Atlantic Coast Conferencein batting average (.326), while ranking second in pitching with a2.06 ERA. The Tech hitters also lead the league in hits with 203 onthe season. Freshman centerfielder Kyle Wren leads the league in batting with a .444 average and32 hits. Wren is coming off of a 4-for-4 performance at the plateagainst Georgia Southern on Wednesday. Junior Jacob Esch is fourth in hits with 26 of his own. Esch had just60 hits total in 2010, and is already almost halfway to that markthrough 18 games. Freshman Daniel Palka is second in the ACC in home runs with five. Healso ranks second in total bases with 46. Junior Mark Pope (4-0), the Jackets Friday starter, leads the ACC inERA at 0.29 … Pope has allowed just one earned run all season,and has tossed 25.0 consecutive scoreless innings since lastallowing a runner to cross the plate in the season opener on Feb.18 … All three weekend starters have ERA’s lower than 2.00, withJed Bradley at 1.85 and Farmer at 1.96.

JACKETS TO SHAVE HEADS FOR ST. BALDRICK’S FOUNDATION
The Georgia Tech baseball team will once again join forces with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to raise money to find the cure for childhood cancer. The Yellow Jackets have agreed to shave their heads as a part of the St. Baldrick’s event, setting a goal of raising at least $1500 by March 20, 2011, and are asking for the fans’ assistance in helping them raise the funds. For every $200 donated by Georgia Tech fans over the next two weeks, one player on the team will have their head shaved following the Yellow Jackets’ game against NC State on Sunday, March 20.

POPE EARNS ACC AND NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS
Mark Pope was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Pitcher of the Week for his outstanding performance against Maryland over the weekend, the league office announced Monday. Pope was also a co-winner of Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s National Player of the Week honor.

Pope pitched his second straight complete game shutout, holding Maryland to just four hits in No. 24 Georgia Tech’s 1-0 win over the Terrapins to open ACC play Friday night at Russ Chandler Stadium. Pope (4-0) held Maryland to just four singles on the night while striking out six in the nine innings of work.

WEEKEND ROTATION OFF TO A GREAT START
Georgia Tech’s weekend rotation of Mark Pope, Jed Bradley and Buck Farmer has gotten off to a strong start this season. The 1-2-3 punch is holding a combined 1.27 ERA, having allowed just 11 earned runs in 78 innings. Pope leads the way with a conference-leading 0.29 earned run average (30.2 IP), and has yielded just one earned run all year. Bradley leads the crew in strikeouts with 38, while Farmer (26) and Pope (25) are close behind.

GOING THE DISTANCE
With a complete game shutout of Maryland last Friday, Mark Pope has gone nine innings in three of his last five starts. The junior right-hander pitched a CG shutout the week before against Rutgers, and another back in opener of the 2010 NCAA Atlanta regional against Mercer on June 4, 2010. Pope is the only pitcher so far in the ACC to reach the nine-inning plateau.

….AND CLOSING IN ON TOP CAREER WINNING PERCENTAGE
With a 1-0 shutout win over Maryland, Pope improved his career record to 17-2 overall. His .895 winning percentage moved him up to No. 2 on the all-time list at Georgia Tech for a pitcher with a minimum of 10 wins.

Ed LaFitte owns the current record at .900 (18-2) in a two-year career that lasted from 1906-1907.

Last season, Pope went 8-1 as the midweek starter for the Jackets, and set a new school record for fewest walks per nine innings pitched at 1.49 (78.2 IP). The previous record for a pitcher with at least 50 innings pitched was 1.60 by Kyle Bakker in 2002. Pope issued just 13 freebees all season.

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 (.444) and hits (28), while tied for third in runs scored (22). He opened his career on an eight-game hit streak and has a hit in 16 of the 18 games played. The freshman centerfielder was 5-for-5 last Saturday against Maryland, which tied for the most hits in a game by an ACC player this season. He also went 4-for-4 at the plate against Georgia Southern on Wednesday.

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 nine-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 nine double plays, combining with Hyde for seven 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 .344 as a team with 23 doubles, two triples and eight (of the team’s 10) home runs. The Jackets are averaging 8.0 runs and 12.1 hits per game during that time span. Freshmen Kyle Wren (.459) and Mott Hyde (.400), and sophomore Brandon Thomas (.394) have set the pace at during the nine games. The team was batting just .308 and averaging just 5.6 runs in the previous nine games.

CREDIT THE HURLERS FOR THE STREAK
Much can be credited to the pitching staff, which has allowed just 16 earned runs in the last nine games. The group is holding opposing hitters to a .192 average during the stretch.

The bullpen has fared well, holding a 1.49 ERA, having allowed just 17 hits in 24.1 relief innings. Sophomore Luke Bard has led the way with a win and two saves in his last four outings (10.1 IP).

COMING INTO HIS OWN
After hitting just 2-for-14 (.143) through the first four games of the season, freshman Daniel Palka has found a groove at the plate recently for the Jackets.

The Lyman, S.C. native has hit .404 (23-for-57) with five home runs and 18 RBI since.

Through Wednesday, Palka is leading the team with five homers and 19 RBI, totaling 46 total bases.

LEFTOVERS FROM LAST WEEKEND
The Jackets outscored their opponents (Kennesaw State and Maryland) by a 23-9 tally in four games last week, while the pitching staff held an impressive 1.75 ERA in the four games.

Weekend starters Mark Pope (4-0), Jed Bradley (2-0) and Buck Farmer (2-1) all earned wins over the weekend, each going at least 7.0 innings on the mound … Pope (9.0 IP) and Farmer (8.0 IP) had scoreless outings, while Bradley (7.0 IP) allowed just one earned run in his appearance.

Freshmen Mott Hyde (.538) and Kyle Wren (.471) led the team at the plate, both scoring five runs and driving in four … Wren hit a .583 clip against Maryland alone, totaling 12 bases in the weekend series

GROWING PAINS
With the starting lineup showing six and sometimes seven freshmen on a game-to-game basis, the Jackets have been hampered by some costly youthful mistakes. In losses to Kent State (6-1), Georgia Southern (6-5) and St. John’s (13-3), the Jackets committed five errors that led to 14 unearned runs. In fact, just 37 of the team’s 62 runs allowed have been earned.

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