The On-Tech Circle: Duke at Georgia Tech

March 29, 2012

Jon Cooper, Sting Daily –

Friday: Buck Farmer, RHP (4-2, 5.20) vs. Marcus Stroman, RHP (3-2, 2.83), 7:00 p.m.
Saturday: Luke Bard, RHP (1-0, 1.17) vs. Trent Swart, LHP (3-2, 2.06), 1:00 p.m.
Sunday: Dusty Isaacs, RHP (4-1, 3.45) vs. Robert Huber, RHP (3-3, 4.06), 1:00 p.m.

Georgia Tech looks to stay perfect at home in ACC series when they host Duke this weekend.

The Jackets are coming off a split their midweek series with Georgia Southern. The Jackets took the final game of the series, routing the Eagles, 10-5, Wednesday afternoon. Cole Pitts earned the win, throwing six strong innings, while the Jackets supported him, getting 14 hits. Brandon Thomas and Connor Lynch each had three hits and Daniel Palka blasted his eighth homer. Sam Dove’s fifth-inning double drove in the game-winning run as part of a five-run fifth inning. The hit extended his streak to 17 games.

After sweeping Virginia Tech last weekend, the Blue Devils dropped a 2-1 decision at Davidson on Tuesday afternoon. Freshman pitcher Nick Piscotty struck out a career-high seven in five innings and left with a 1-0 lead, but he got no decision, as the Wildcats rallied for two runs in the seventh. Duke managed only four hits and scored its only run on a fourth-inning double-steal in when center fielder Will Piwnica-Worms stole home.

Georgia Tech and Duke resume a series that dates back to 1903. The Yellow Jackets have dominated, holding an 82-28 all-time edge, 44-13 at home. Since 2001, the Jackets are 30-6 against Duke, 14-1 at home.

All three games will be telecast, as Friday and Sunday video will be streamed live on RamblinWreck.com, while Saturday’s game will be broadcast on Fox Sports South and ESPN3. Mike Hogewood and Dan Bonner will call the action. All three games will be broadcast on WREK, 91.1 FM. Tech fans can also hear all three games as well as get live stats on Gametracker on RamblinWreck.com.

Last Time We Met: The Jackets took the series, 2-1, but had to work for it. On Friday, Mark Pope threw a complete-game, four-hitter in a come-from-behind 9-2 victory. Tech trailed 2-0 after three but scored in four of the next six innings and pulled away. The top of the order, Kyle Wren and Jacob Esch combined to go 5-for-10, with three runs and two RBIs and Jake Davies, Daniel Palka, Mott Hyde and Sam Dove each had two hits. Hyde had a game-high three RBIs in the victory. Duke won a 4-3 squeaker on Saturday. Davies, and Dove again had two-hit days, as did Paul Kronenfeld, but the Jackets, who banged out five doubles, could only score in the fifth inning and surrendered an unearned urn in the seventh that proved decisive. Tech broke out the bats in the finale, pounding out 17 hits — four each by Esch and Matt Skole — in an 11-5 victory. Esch scored three runs and drove in three, while Skole, Davies and Brandon Thomas each drove in two runs. A five-run fifth, started by an Esch lead-off double and concluded by Thomas’ two-run single broke open the game and provided starter Buck Farmer with all the support he’d need. Farmer allowed two earned runs in five innings to get the win and the bullpen closed the door, holding the Blue Devils to five hits and two earned runs over the final four innings.

Talking A Good Game: Nolan Alexander and Wade Rogers already call a great game, but this weekend, they’ll get some special insights when they’re joined in booth, by special guest analyst Roddy Jones. Better known as an A-Back for the football Yellow Jackets from 2007 through 2011, Jones had skills on the diamond. An outfielder, Jones was a 39th-round pick of the Chicago White Sox in 2007 June Draft and played with the Yellow Jackets during the 2010 season. Jones saw action in nine games, making nine plate-appearances. He had a .125 batting average (1-for-8), and scored two runs. Hitting the hole proved easier than hitting the curve, however, as he walked once and striking out six times.

Walkin’ On, Chippin’ In: Freshman Thomas Smith will never forget March 28, 2012. The freshman from Fort Pierce, Fla., who made the team as a walk-on, made his collegiate debut starting at second base, and had a solid day at the plate, going 1-for-2, with two walks and scored a run. Defensively, he made a multi-run-saving play with the bases loaded and two out in the seventh inning, as he dove to his left, made a stop of a sharply hit grounder, got up and threw to first to retire the side.

Palka Power: Daniel Palka has been crushing the ball all season long. He’s sixth in the ACC in slugging percentage (.667, tops on the team), is tied for third in RBIs (28), and is tied for third in homers (8). In fact, his eight homers are as many as the entire Duke team.

In Tech’s Defense: If there is one area where Georgia Tech has struggled it’s defensively. The Yellow Jackets have committed the most errors in the ACC (46) and have the lowest fielding percentage (.953). It’s one area where Duke has an advantage, as they are fielding .973, second in the conference, and have committed 26 errors, tied for the fewest in the league. When the Jackets catch the ball they are tough to beat. They are a combined 9-2 in games when they commit one-or-fewer errors, 2-2 in ACC games. They are 6-7 (2-3) when the make two-or-more miscues.

On Deck: Georgia Tech makes a midweek trip to Kennesaw State on Tuesday then comes back home for a big weekend series with Atlantic Division leader Florida State. Duke visits Campbell College on Tuesday then hosts a weekend series with Clemson.

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