Tech Baseball Meets Georgia State in Panthersville Wednesday

March 20, 2007

ATLANTA – The Yellow Jacket baseball team steps out of conference Wednesday evening when they travel across town for a 6 p.m. game against Georgia State at the Field in Panthersville. Georgia Tech (11-10) is coming off a weekend in which earned a 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference series win over Boston College, while Georgia State (11-11) ends a seven-game homestand looking for its first win in three games.

GAME COVERAGE: The game can be heard on WREK-Radio (91.1 FM/www.wrek.org). Livestats will be available at www.ramblinwreck.com.

Earlier this season, the Panthers scored five runs in the second inning against Georgia Tech and held on for a 9-5 win at Russ Chandler Stadium to snap a three-game losing streak to the Yellow Jackets.

Georgia Tech will be looking for its first road victory of the season Wednesday evening, as the Jackets have gone 0-3 against Georgia Southern (twice) and Kennesaw State in 2007.

The Yellow Jacket offense is led by outfielders Danny Payne (.405-1-14-8) and Wally Crancer (.392-4-19), catcher Matt Wieters (.341-5-25) and DH/1B Tony Plagman (.341-0-4-3), while two other Yellow Jackets are hitting over .300 for the season.

Jackets vs. Panthers

Georgia Tech leads Georgia State, 48-7, in a series that dates to 1971. The Yellow Jackets and Panthers have played every year since 1992, playing two games every year since 1995.

The Yellow Jackets are 19-4 against the Panthers in Panthersville, and have won five-straight over Georgia State on the Panthers’ home turf.

The Yellow Jackets are 25-3 against Georgia State under head coach Danny Hall, with the skipper owning a 11-1 record against the Panthers in Panthersville.

Since 2000, the Jackets have averaged 12.2 runs per game against the Panthers, while holding them to 4.76 runs per contest. During that 13-game span, Tech has scored at least 10 runs in every game except the losses in 2005 and earlier this year, while the Panthers have been held to five or fewer runs in nine of the 13 games.

Jackets’ Offense Key to Early Successes

Despite losing players that made up over 50 percent of Tech’s hits, runs, home runs and RBI’s from a year ago, Tech has relied on the strength of their offense in 2007, returning four starters that hit .320 or above in 2006 while adding a strong group of talented freshmen to the mix.

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 .320 with 62 extra-base hits in 15 games (4.1/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 .315 or above, they are 6-0 on the season, but when hitting below .315, Tech is 5-10. In fact, The Jackets have hit higher than .270 in just three of their 10 losses on the season.

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.

Relying on a Veteran Bullpen

Georgia Tech’s pitching staff was bolstered by strong efforts from the bullpen in 2006, and that group remains essentially in tact for 2007. The Yellow Jackets are looking for the relievers to return to form of `06, when they pitched 258 innings in 68 games, posting a 3.56 ERA and a 21-7 record with 18 saves. In the five NCAA Regional & Super Regional games, Tech’s bullpen posted a 0.00 ERA in 8.1 innings while recording two saves.

Bullpen Tale of the Tape in 2007Overall         W-L     SV      ERA     IP      ER      Opp avg.Georgia Tech    4-2     4       5.19    86.2    50      .287Opponents               6-2     5       7.02    84.2    66      .278

Starting Lineup is Anyone’s Guess

Through the first 21 games of the 2007 season, Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall has used 19 different lineup cards, with the only repeat coming against Rutgers the first weekend of March and vs. Kennesaw State last week.

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 21 games, while Wieters has batted third, splitting time as the catcher and DH.

Tech Versus the State of Georgia

Georgia Tech went 9-3 against teams from the state of Georgia in 2006, but this season the Jackets have struggled against instate foes, going 1-4 vs. the state with their lone win coming against Kennesaw State in the first home game of 2007. The Jackets still have a pair of contests vs. Georgia Southern, and three games against Georgia remaining on the schedule for 2007.

Since 1999, the Yellow Jackets own a 73-24 (.753) mark against in-state foes. In 13 years under head coach Danny Hall, Tech is 116-41 (.739) against teams from Georgia.

“5” – The Magic Number

Since the arrival of pitching coach Bobby Moranda prior to the 2002 season, the Yellow Jackets are 178-21 (.894) when allowing five runs or less. The Yellow Jackets were 36-5 when allowing five runs or less in 2006, and are 6-2 in those games in 2007.

Tech went 38-2 in 2002, 34-2 in 2003, 33-3 in 2004 and 31-7 in 2005 when allowing five runs or less. When allowing six or more runs, the Yellow Jackets are 66-80 since 2002.

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