No. 25 Tech Travels to No. 8 Georgia Wednesday

May 6, 2008

ATLANTA – No. 25 Georgia Tech (33-14) travels to Athens in search of its first victory at Foley Field since the 2004 season Wednesday when it squares off against No. 8 Georgia (31-15-1) at 7 p.m. The Yellow Jackets have won six of their last eight games while the Bulldogs enter the contest with a 12-3 record since falling to Georgia Tech, 9-4, at Russ Chandler Stadium April 9.

Tech has posted a remarkable 21-2 record against non-conference opponents in 2008, including a 10-0 mark against teams from the state of Georgia.

The Yellow Jackets are batting .304 on the season while the pitching staff has combined for a 4.61 ERA and is holding opponents to a .271 average.

Pitching Matchup (Georgia Tech vs. Georgia)
Tuesday: RHP Deck McGuire (7-0, 3.69) vs. RHP Will Harvil (1-0, 2.84)

Georgia Tech’s offense is led by redshirt junior RF Charlie Blackmon (.366, 7 HR, 33 RBI, 17 SB), freshman CF Jeff Rowland (.354-3-19-21), junior DH Luke Murton (.349-9-37-3), and freshman SS Derek Dietrich (.339-14-56-3). Sophomore 1B Tony Plagman and senior 3B Brad Feltes have also been big offensive threats, with 15 and 12 home runs, respectively.

Game Coverage: The game will be televised on CSS as well as Comcast Sports Net Mid-Atlantic (Dish Network 424 / DirecTV 629), with Matt Stewart and Buck Belue calling the action. Tech fans can listen to the game on 790 the Zone with Wes Durham calling the play-by-play while former Tech great Randy Carroll provides the color commentary. Live stats for the game will be available at Ramblinwreck.com.

The Teams of Late

Georgia Tech – The Yellow Jackets have won six of their last eight games, batting .340 with 27 home runs and 21 doubles during that span. The Jackets’ offense has been on a tear over the last 11 games, hitting .348 with 35 home runs, 34 doubles and a triple comprising 70 of Tech’s 138 hits during the 7-4 run. The Jackets have been led by a pair of outfielders, as freshman center fielder Jeff Rowland is batting a team-best .442 with a pair of doubles, five walks and nine stolen bases while junior right fielder Charlie Blackmon has hit .431 with five doubles, three home runs and seven stolen bases during the last 11 games. Five Yellow Jackets have hit at least five home runs in the span, led by ACC home run leader Tony Plagman, who has belted six homers. Jason Haniger, Luke Murton, Thomas Nichols and Brad Feltes have all added five apiece in the last 11. The Jackets are batting .304 and have belted an ACC-best 80 home runs while the Tech pitching staff has limited opponents to a .271 average and given up just 44 home runs in 2008. For the year, closer Chris Hicks has collected a team-best eight saves for the Yellow Jackets and relievers Brad Rulon and Andrew Robinson have combined for 33 scoreless appearances in relief. Tech returned to the national rankings this week following a two-week hiatus, standing at No. 25 in the latest Collegiate Baseball poll.

Georgia – The Bulldogs have risen to No. 8 in the latest Collegiate Baseball poll behind the consistent play of shortstop Gordon Beckham, who leads the team with a .412 batting average and leads the nation with 22 home runs on the season. The Bulldog standout is also pacing the team in stolen bases (16), slugging percentage (.874), on base percentage (.524), runs (67) and RBI (52). Georgia will be staffing Wednesday’s game against the Yellow Jackets, and the pitching staff holds a 4.02 ERA while opponents are batting just .253 against them. The Bulldogs are coming off a series win against Ole Miss after Florida won two of three against Georgia in Gainesville. The Dogs are 3-2 against ACC opponents in 2008, with the only losses coming to Florida State and Georgia Tech.

Tech vs. the Opponent (Georgia leads, 192-148-2)

The Bulldogs hold a 192-148-2 lead over the Yellow Jackets in a series that dates to the 1898 season. Georgia Tech has played the University of Georgia more than any other opponent in baseball history, and the two teams will be meeting for the 343rd time in history Wednesday night.

Each team holds the upper-hand on their home field, as Georgia Tech is 86-68-1 against the Bulldogs in games played on the Jackets’ home field, and just 50-109 in games played in Athens.

Tech and Georgia have squared off 53 times since the arrival of head coach Danny Hall in 1994, with the Yellow Jackets holding the 30-23 edge in the series under the Tech skipper, with the 30th win coming earlier this season at Russ Chandler Stadium.

Prior to that meeting, the two teams last met on May 9, 2007, with Georgia pulling out a 9-4 victory over the Jackets in Athens. The Bulldogs also won the game played at Turner Field, 10-7, in late April, but failed to sweep the series as Georgia Tech won the first game, 8-2, at Russ Chandler Stadium.

Georgia has won the three-game regular season series (home-and-home plus one game played at Turner Field) each of the last two years. Tech will be seeking its first win in Athens since the 2004 season.

21-2 Out of Conference

While the Jackets have gone 12-12 through the first 24 conference games of the season, they have been impressive against out-of-conference foes, posting a sterling 21-2 non-conference record in 2008.

The Yellow Jackets are batting .328 against non-conference opponents, led by Luke Murton, who has blistered non-conference foes for a .380 average, six home runs and nine doubles in 21 games. Four other Yellow Jackets are also batting above .350 against non-ACC teams.

Tech’s pitching staff has also performed well out-of-conference, posting a 3.60 ERA while opponents are hitting just .247 against them. Deck McGuire has been the primary reason for Tech’s non-conference success, as the rookie has gone 7-0 with 43 K and a 3.83 ERA in 51.2 IP. Non-conference opponents are hitting just .233 against him.

Georgia Tech vs. In-State Opponents

Georgia Tech went 5-6 against teams from the state of Georgia in 2007 but has won 10 games against Georgia Southern, Kennesaw State, Georgia State, Mercer and Georgia to start 10-0 against state of Georgia opponents this season. Tech still has two games remaining on its schedule against Georgia teams this season, both away from home against the nationally-ranked Georgia Bulldogs

Since 1999, the Yellow Jackets own an 87-26 (.770) record against its in-state foes. In 15 years under head coach Danny Hall, Tech is 130-43 (.751) against teams from Georgia.

In 2008, Tech his hitting .346 with 51 extra base hits (25 of which are home runs) against teams from the state of Georgia, led by Luke Murton (.485, 6 HR, 16 RBI, 1 SB), Thomas Nichols (.438-3-12-0), Charlie Blackmon (.425-2-7-5) and Jeff Rowland (.406-1-6-7). The Jackets’ pitching staff has posted a 3.76 ERA against instate foes, while opponents are managing just a .263 batting average against them.

Yellow Jackets in the RPI

Georgia Tech enters the weekend ranked No. 9 in the nation in the most updated RPI (source: BoydsWorld.com). (The NCAA releases its RPI just once a week – Tech’s latest ranking in that was No. 21 when it was released Sunday, April 27).

The Atlantic Coast Conference is well represented in the most updated RPI, with five teams ranked among the top 25 in the nation. Miami leads all conference teams, standing at No. 1 in the RPI, while Florida State (2), North Carolina (3), Georgia Tech and NC State (12) join the Hurricanes in the top-25.

Two of the Yellow Jackets’ 2008 non-conference opponents also appear in the top-25 of the RPI – Coastal Carolina (10) and Georgia (17).

Georgia Tech is scheduled to play no fewer than 15 games against teams that currently appear in the top-25 in the RPI this season, with eight of those contests coming on the road.

In terms of schedule strength, Georgia Tech is ranked No. 32 while Georgia’s schedule stands at No. 24 in the latest rankings.

Power Surge

The Yellow Jacket offense has already hit 80 home runs in 2008, which is 30 more than Georgia Tech hit in all of 2007. Tech’s 80 home runs leads all conference teams, and ranks in the top-10 in the nation.

The Jackets have also been blessed with a balance of power in 2008, as four different players have hit nine home runs already this season. Tony Plagman leads the Atlantic Coast Conference with 15 home runs and Derek Dietrich is tied for second in the league with 14 home runs in his first season on the Flats. Brad Feltes and Luke Murton have added 12 and nine home runs, respectively.

Tech hit 10 home runs in the three-game series against Coastal Carolina, eight home runs in the weekend series against Wake Forest and eight home runs in a single game at Mercer for a total of 26 home runs in its last seven games. The Yellow Jackets have homered in 15-straight games entering the week and have 20 multi-home run games in 2008, including 9 of the last 11.

2008 Accolades

Monday, May 5 (Dietrich Named ACC Player of the Week) – Derek Dietrich earned his first league recognition after guiding Tech a 2-1 series win over No. 15 Coastal Carolina in a three-game weekend series. The freshman hit .500 with six RBI against the Chanticleers, five of which came in Tech’s 11-4 victory to clinch the series on the final day. A shortstop from Parma, Ohio, Dietrich moved into a tie for second in the ACC’s home runs race by belting his 14th of the season Sunday afternoon.

Monday, Apr. 22 (Murton Tabbed to College Baseball Foundation’s National All-Star Lineup ) – Luke Murton was tabbed to the National All-Star Lineup for the week of April 14-20 after hitting .588 with four home runs in four games against Georgia Southern and Maryland. He hit home runs in three of Tech’s four games, including two at Georgia Southern. For the week, he had 10 hits, eight of which went for extra bases.

Monday, Mar. 3 (Von Tersch Named ACC Pitcher of the Week) – Zach Von Tersch earned his first league recognition after guiding Tech to a shutout victory against Rutgers in the series finale Sunday, March 2. In the process, Von Tersch picked up his first career victory while helping Tech to a 2-1 series win against the Scarlet Knights. Von Tersch tossed 7.0 innings, holding Rutgers hitters to three hits while striking out seven and walking two. He faced 24 batters and allowed just two runners past first base in the victory.

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