March 24, 2015
By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word
Having been pushed into a waiting game, Ryan Peurifoy made quite of bit of his break Saturday when he finally found his way into a game again and pushed back.
The Georgia Tech sophomore right fielder tripled with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning to push Connor Justus across the plate, and then scored the tying run when Daniel Spingola lifted a ground-rule double. With that, the Yellow Jackets knotted North Carolina 5-5 after having fallen behind 5-0 in the fourth inning of the first game of a rare ACC doubleheader.
Senior Thomas Smith’s walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth plated the winning run, but without Peurifoy’s career-high three RBI, the Jackets would’ve been in a pickle – especially since they dropped the first and third games vs. UNC.
He knows that feeling.
After starting 44 games and playing in 50 as a freshman, Peurifoy’s playing time has diminished as freshman Kel Johnson has splashed onto the college scene with a big bat. He is among ACC leaders with team highs of a .379 batting average, seven home runs, 25 RBI and a .443 slugging percentage for Tech (16-7, 5-4 ACC).
Peurifoy’s bat was big in that first game. He also drove in a pair of runs with a sixth inning single.
Johnson, who was the designated hitter in the first game of the doubleheader, injured an ankle in the second game, a 5-1 loss. Peurifoy came off the bench in that one and will be a candidate for right field Tuesday, when Auburn visits.
To play in three straight games will be new – this season. His at-bats against the Tar Heels were his first of the ACC season, and his hits were his second and third of the season. He’s played in 13 of 23 games overall, and three of nine ACC contests.
“It was my first time seeing live pitching in a while, since I don’t even know when,” he said. “As the day went on, I went from strikeout to groundout to a base hit to a triple. You’ve got to take the good days with the bad.”
Peurifoy hasn’t been playing as much as he wants, and he didn’t get the pitches he was looking for, either, in that eighth inning showdown with North Carolina senior side-armer Trevor Kelley. No matter; he came through.
“The previous at-bat, I looked stupid on curve balls. I’ll admit that; I looked dumb on them,” he said. “They made a mistake in that prior at-bat and threw a fastball and I got a base hit.
“So I sat on curve balls. I saw one for a strike, and then he threw me a fastball. I was sitting on the curve ball [but] I saw it all the way and was able to put a good swing on it.”
The long fly ball to left center field scored Justus easily from first base, and the Jackets’ rally was juiced. Justus had reached on a two-out single.
Peurifoy’s poke should not have come as a surprise.
He batted .296 as a freshman with 42 hits (including seven doubles and three triples) and a .340 on-base percentage. Given that he added seven outfield assists and made several special plays with his glove, it wasn’t like Hall was taking a flier with Peurifoy in the starting lineup. The Starr’s Mill High graduate has speed.
“Ryan Peurifoy hasn’t been playing a lot. He got to start a lot last year, and came up with a couple big hits and RBIs for us. I’m proud of him,” the coach said. “He’s a real hard worker, and he came up big for us in the first game.
“I wanted to put a good defensive team out there, and I had a change to DH Kel by catching [A.J.] Murray so it warranted him getting out there.”
Peurifoy’s next chance may come soon.
“Being game prepared is really tough knowing that you’re not going to play every day,” he said. “When you come to the ballpark and you see your name not on the list so many times you kind of get down in the beginning, but then you realize that your time still needs you on the bench.
“Be positive, stay productive on the bench by picking people up, picking up people’s gloves if they made the last out [at the plate], staying positive instead of getting down.”