No. 21 Yellow Jacket Baseball Opens Conference Play Hosting Virginia Tech

March 8, 2007

ATLANTA – No. 21 Georgia Tech opens Atlantic Coast Conference play this weekend, hosting Virginia Tech (8-5, 0-0 ACC) in a three-game series beginning Friday at 4 p.m. The Yellow Jackets and Hokies will continue the series Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.

GAME COVERAGE: Live online video of all three games on ACC Select (gatech.playonsports.tv) with radio coverage available on WREK-Radio (91.1 FM/www.wrek.org). Livestats at www.ramblinwreck.com.

The Jackets (8-6, 0-0 ACC) open their ACC slate facing a road-tested Virginia Tech team that has played nine of its 13 games away from home, including a pair of contests in Richmond this past Tuesday (VCU) and Wednesday (Richmond). Conversely, 12 of the Jackets’ 14 games have come at Russ Chandler Stadium, with the Jackets posting an 8-4 record at home, including a 2-1 mark against Rutgers last weekend.

Pitching Matchups (GT vs. Virginia Tech)
Friday: LHP David Duncan (3-1, 4.91) vs. RHP Greg Fryman (1-1, 5.79) Saturday: RHP John Goodman (0-0, 4.50) vs. LHP Andrew Wells (1-0, 4.76) Sunday: LHP Ryan Turner (1-2, 4.76) vs. RHP David Cross (1-2, 3.00)

The Yellow Jacket offense is led by outfielders Wally Crancer (.479-4-17) and Danny Payne (.404-1-11-6), DH Tony Plagman (.355-0-3-3) and catcher Matt Wieters (.350-3-16), while three other Yellow Jackets are hitting over .300 for the season. Georgia Tech, as a team, is hitting .316 on the year.

Georgia Tech vs. Virginia Tech: Georgia Tech leads, 9-3

Georgia Tech leads Virginia Tech, 9-3, in a series that dates back to 1980. The Jackets and Hokies squared off three times in the `80’s and for a three-game series in 1997 before beginning regular three-game series against each other once Virginia Tech joined the league for the 2005 season.

Nine of the 12 games in the series have come at Russ Chandler Stadium, with the only other three contests coming last season in a three-game series at English Field, in which the Jackets took two of three off the Hokies. After dropping the first contest, 8-6, the Jackets won games two and three, 17-11 and 5-3.

Georgia Tech is 8-1 against the Hokies under head coach Danny Hall.

Jackets’ Offense Key to Early Successes

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 is relying 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. This year, as a team, the Jackets are hitting .316, appearing in the top-five in the ACC again in average.

The Jackets opened 2007 with a pair of losses at Georgia Southern, struggling with just a .217 average. Since then, the offense has heated up, hitting .332 with 48 extra-base hits in 10 games (4.8/gm), including a .361 clip vs. Duquesne and a .342 mark against Rutgers.

When the Jackets aren’t hitting, however, the team tends to struggle. If the Jackets hit .340 or above, they are 5-0 on the season, but when hitting below .340, Tech is 3-6.

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.

Starting Lineup is Anyone’s Guess

Through the first 14 games of the 2007 season, Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall has turned in 13 different lineup cards, with the only repeat coming last weekend against Rutgers.

The only two constants in all 14 lineups have been those of preseason All-Americans Matt Wieters and Danny Payne. Payne has been Tech’s leadoff hitter and starting center fielder in all 14 games, while Wieters has batted third, splitting time as the catcher and DH.

Team to Go Bald for Charity; Reach $5K Goal
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 set the goal of raising at least $5,000 by St. Patrick’s Day, or St. Baldrick’s Day, as coined by the organization, and achieved that goal in the last week. To date, fans have donated $5,045 to the cause, resulting in 20 players (primarily freshmen and sophomores) to have their heads shaved after the Boston College game on 3/17. The team has agreed that, because of their fans’ generous support, they will continue the efforts to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, and for every additional $250 raised by March 17, one more Georgia Tech baseball player will shave his head in a head-shaving “ceremony” after the game. For more information, go to http://www.stbaldricks.org/events/event_info.html?EventID=121.

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