No. 21 Georgia Tech Hosts Georgia Southern For Two Games

March 14, 2011

Game Notes

ATLANTA – The 21st-ranked Georgia Tech baseball team will conclude the back end of a four-game series with Georgia Southern (11-5, 3-0 SoCon), hosting the Eagles for two games this week. The Yellow Jackets (12-4, 3-0 ACC) will play at 6 p.m. on Tuesday and 4 p.m. on Wednesday at Russ Chandler Stadium.

Pitching Matchup (Georgia Tech vs. Georgia Southern)
Tuesday: RHP Matthew Grimes (2-1, 5.51, 16.1 IP, 18 SO) vs. LHP Jarret Leverett (0-2, 6.75, 10.2 IP, 5 SO)
Wednesday: TBA vs. RHP Will Middour (2-0, 2.19, 12.1 IP, 5 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 (12-4) 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 seven-game winstreak after sweeping Maryland to open Atlantic Coast Conferenceplay over the weekend … The Jackets swept their 12th ACClid-lifter in 18 years under head coach Danny Hall. Tuesday game will be the 116th all-time meetingbetween the two schools … Both teams split two games inStatesboro earlier in the season. Georgia Southern returns 15letterwinners and five positions starters from last season … TheEagles went 34-24 in 2010, finishing third in the SouthernConference. Georgia Southern (11-5) is coming off of a 4-0 weekthat included a 7-0 win over No. 1 Florida last Tuesday … TheEagles opened SoCon play by sweeping Furman at home over theweekend … They are hitting a .338 clip as a team, while thepitching staff has combined for a 3.38 ERA.

SERIES HISTORY
Georgia Tech holds a 87-28 lead in the all-time series between the two schools, having won 12 of the last 15 contests dating back to March 27, 2007 … The Jackets are 48-14 in games played in Atlanta, and 55-16 against the Eagles since head coach Danny Hall’s arrival in 1994. Last Meeting: Freshman Daniel Palka went 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI to lift No. 21 Georgia Tech to a 7-4 win over Georgia Southern on February 23 at J.I. Clements Stadium in Statesboro, Ga. Freshman outfielder Kyle Wren chipped in with three hits and a RBI of his own as both newcomers led the team offensively. Freshman pitcher Matthew Grimes earned the win on the mound after scattering four runs (two earned) on five hits over 5.1 innings in his first career start.

QUICK HITS

Georgia Tech leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in battingaverage (.328), while sitting in second in team ERA (2.07). TheTech hitters also lead the league in hits with 183 on the season.Freshman Kyle Wren sits atop the conference with a .438 average, whiletied for the lead in hits with 28. Joining Wren n the ACC’s list oftop-10 batting averages is sophomore Brandon Thomas, who sits in sixth with a .386 average. FreshmanDaniel Palka is second in the ACC in home runs with five. Palkahas homered in three of the last five games for the Jackets, and issecond in the league in total bases with 41. 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.

GEORGIA TECH vs. IN-STATE OPPONENTS
The Jackets are 2-2 against teams from Georgia this season, defeating Georgia Southern and Kennesaw State, while losing one to the GSU Eagles and Georgia State. Since 1999, the Yellow Jackets own a 112-36 (.757) record against its in-state foes. In 18 years under head coach Danny Hall, Tech is 156-53 (.746) against teams from Georgia. In 2010, the Jackets claimed victor to the “State Championship” of Georgia college baseball, going 12-1 against in-state opponents. The Jackets won four against Georgia Southern, two against Mercer, three against Georgia, two against Georgia State, and one against Kennesaw State. Tech’s only loss came at Kennesaw State on March 31, 2010.

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, 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 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 Rutgers last Friday, junior pitcher Mark 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 (.438), while tied at the top in hits (28). He leads the team in runs (18) and is tied for the lead in RBI (15). He opened his career on an eight-game hit streak and has a hit in 12 of the 13 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.

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 seven-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 seven double plays, combining with Hyde for five 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 .352 as a team. The Jackets are averaging 8.0 runs and 12.7 hits per game during that time span.

CREDIT THE BULLPEN
Much can be credited to the bullpen as well during the four games, which is holding a 1.91 ERA, having allowed just nine hits in 14.1 relief innings. Sophomore Luke Bard has led the way with a win and a save in his last three outings (7.1 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 .400 (20-for-50) since.

Through Sunday, Palka is leading the team with five homers and 41 total bases, and is tied for the lead in RBI with 20.

LEFTOVERS FROM LAST WEEK
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 33 of the team’s 56 runs allowed have been earned.

GAME TIME CHANGE
The April 23 game against Boston College has been moved from its original 6 p.m. time to a 3 p.m. start.

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