#STINGDAILY: The On-Tech Circle: No. 19 Georgia Tech (24-9, 9-6) vs. No. 5 Virginia (30-4, 12-3)

April 11, 2013

Jon Cooper, Sting Daily –

Friday: Buck Farmer, RHP (6-1, 1.47) vs. Brandon Waddell, LHP (2-0, 3.71), 7:00 p.m.
Saturday: Dusty Isaacs, RHP (4-2, 3.57) vs. Scott Silverstein, LHP (5-0, 3.77), 1:00 p.m.
Sunday: Cole Pitts, RHP (4-3, 3.43) vs. Nick Howard, RHP (4-2, 2.03), 1:00 p.m.

Another week, another powerhouse ACC matchup. This weekend the opposition for No. 19 Georgia Tech is No. 5 Virginia, who comes to Russ Chandler Stadium for a weekend series.

The Yellow Jackets are coming off an exciting midweek victory against Georgia in Athens. The Jackets trailed twice in the game, 1-0 after one and 4-2 after four, but rallied for three in the fifth then tacked on runs in the sixth and ninth to hold off UGA. Zane Evans did it all, going 2-for-5 with three RBIs, including an RBI single to cap the three-run fifth, then slamming the door in the ninth, with a 1-2-3 inning to earn his third save, striking out two in the inning. Brandon Thomas’ return to the lineup after a nine-game absence also was a success, as he went 2-for-5 with a run scored and two RBIs, both coming on a double in the fourth. Sam Dove also had a multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Josh Heddinger earned the win, going 1 2/3 innings, allowing a run on one hit.

The Cavaliers, who are winners of 14 out of 16, saw their five-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday when they dropped a 9-8 midweek decision to Radford, although they made things interesting, nearly overcoming a 9-1 deficit. Starter Artie Lewick took the loss, allowing three runs (two earned) and two hits and a walk in an inning, his first start since coming back from elbow surgery. Reliever Trey Oest allowed six earned runs in two-thirds of an inning in the second to put the Cavs down 9-1. UVA then chipped away, with a run in the fourth, two in the sixth and four in the ninth, but could not equalize, leaving the tying run in scoring position. Left fielder Mike Papi and DH Derek Fisher each went yard, with Fisher and right fielder Joe McCarthy each driving in a pair. First baseman Jared King also had two hits for UVA, which was outhit 11-8.

This weekend renews a rivalry that dates back to 1924 — with a 47-year break from 1926 through 1973 — and has been played annually since 1980. The Jackets own a 67-44-2 record and are 34-14-2 in home games. Under Danny Hall, Tech is 33-23-1 against the Cavaliers, 16-6-1, in home games. Tech is 6-1-1 in home series, but hasn’t played one with Virginia since since 2009.

Jackets fans can see all three games with Friday’s game being webcast on ESPN3 with Richard Musterer and Roddy Jones calling the action, Saturday’s game will be on Fox Sports South (a webcast will be on ESPN3) with Bob Rathbun and Dan Bonner, and Sunday’s game will be televised on CSS (again an ESPN3 webcast) with Matt Stewart and Randy Carroll. Fans can catch all three broadcasts on WREK 91.1 FM in Atlanta, with Nolan Alexander and Wade Rogers calling the action. Live stats are available on Gametracker on RamblinWreck.com.

Let’s play ball!

Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech steamrolled the Cavaliers 17-5 in the quarterfinal round of last season’s ACC Tournament. Zane Evans went 3-for-4 with a career-high six RBIs as the Yellow Jackets scored a season-high 17 runs and pounded out 14 hits against three Virginia pitchers, with every player in the lineup having at least one knock. Brandon Thomas, Jake Davies and Connor Lynch each had multi-hit games and Thomas, Davies and Mott Hyde each drove in three runs. Davies, Evans and Hyde all went deep as the Jackets blasted eight extra-base hits. Trailing 3-0 heading into the bottom of the third, Tech exploded for 10 runs over the next two innings then tacked on two in the sixth and five more in the seventh to close things out. Cole Pitts got the win, throwing five strong innings (four runs, two earned on eight hits), and Dusty Isaacs went the final two allowing a run on one hit.  

Bang For Their Buck: Not a lot of teams can claim that they are averaging a hit an inning against Buck Farmer, but Virginia is one of those teams. Tech’s ace has allowed 19 hits in 19 innings against the Cavaliers in three career appearances (two starts) and has pitched to a 4.73 ERA, allowing 10 earned runs in 19 innings. Those hits haven’t amounted to a whole lot of success in the win column, however, as he is 2-0 with a no-decision. Farmer has had his share of success against the Wahoos, whiffing 20 in those 19 innings, with a nearly 3:1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio (20 Ks vs. 7 walks). Farmer is 9-1 in 12 career starts vs. Coastal Division foes, with an ERA of 2.46.

Can’t Beat Tech’s Starters: Not only has Virginia been unable to pin a loss on Farmer, they’ve been unable to beat any of Tech’s three starters this weekend. The sampling is a little smaller against Saturday starter Dusty Isaacs and Sunday pitcher Cole Pitts, as Isaacs has made only two appearances against Virginia (he’s allowed two runs, one earned, and four hits in 4 1/3 innings in two relief appearances), while Pitts has a higher ERA (5.17), allowing seven runs (five earned) in 8 2/3 innings over two outings as a freshman. The most recent came in the ACC Tournament. The Cavs got to see both Pitts, who started, allowing two earned runs and eight hits in five innings, and Isaacs, who threw two innings, allowing one earned run. That was the day of Tech’s 17-run explosion, a game started by Scott Silverstein, who gets the start Saturday against Isaacs.

Hitters Paradise:  If you like runs, this is your series. Both Georgia Tech and Virginia have plated runs a plenty this season. The Yellow Jackets have scored in double figures 13 times (including a school-record nine straight games) and has scored at least eight runs four other times, winning all of those games. Virginia has scored in double digits 10 times and has scored at least eight runs on eight other occasions. Until Wednesday’s 9-8 loss, the Cavaliers hadn’t lost when scoring at least eight runs. The teams enter this weekend’s series ranked Nos. 1 and 3 in batting average in the ACC (Tech leads at .328, Virginia is hitting .311), and hits (Tech 372, Virginia 351) and are Nos. 2 and 3 in runs (UVA 269, Tech 249).

Bumpy Road: Both teams can pitch, too. Virginia’s 2.56 ERA ranks second in the Conference, while Georgia Tech is seventh at 3.64, although the Jackets have allowed only seven more runs (127-120) and have allowed 13 fewer hits (244 vs. Virginia’s 257). A difference comes in walks, where Yellow Jackets pitchers have allowed 109 free passes to Virginia’s league-low 67. Virginia also has a league-high 289 strikeouts vs. Tech’s 243, fifth in the conference.

On Deck: Georgia Tech continues its homestand next week, hosting Savannah State on Tuesday then North Carolina State next weekend. Virginia also settles in at home, welcoming Old Dominion on Wednesday then No. 6 Florida State over the weekend.

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