The On-Tech Circle: Georgia Tech (19-14) vs. Mercer (20-13)

April 9, 2012

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Tuesday: Josh Heddinger, RHP (1-4, 6.53) vs. Brandon Love, LHP (4-3, 4.47), 6:00 p.m.

Georgia Tech will try and regroup from a tough weekend when it hosts a non-conference, midweek game against Mercer.

The Yellow Jackets were swept over the weekend by ACC leader Florida State. It was their first weekend sweep this season. The Jackets dropped a 2-1, 10-inning heartbreaker Friday night, then fell Saturday, 12-7, done in by a nine-run fifth inning. On Sunday, Tech rallied late but couldn’t overcome the 8-1 hole they dug themselves, losing 8-4. Jake Davies had a big series, hitting in all three games and batting .625 (5-for-8) for the series, driving in three runs and scoring two more.

The Bears spent the weekend in Fort Myers, Fla., where they took two of three from Florida Gulf Coast. They swept a doubleheader, 4-3 and 4-2, on Friday, before dropping the finale, 4-1 on Saturday. Bears’ CF Derrick Workman was 5-for-10 in the three games, with a homer, three runs and an RBI, while Mercer starters allowed three runs in 20 innings (a 1.35 ERA). Brandon Love, tonight’s starter and the Bears’ Friday night starter, threw seven innings, allowing two runs (one earned) and six hits in the first-game victory.

Georgia Tech and Mercer meet for the first of two midweek games this year in a series that dates back to 1897. Tech leads the series, 104-50, and holds a 61-22 edge at Russ Chandler Stadium. The Jackets have won 19 of the last 21 games in Atlanta, but lost last year’s game. They lost both games to Mercer in 2011.

Tonight’s game can can be heard on WREK, 91.1 FM with Nolan Alexander and Wade Rogers calling the action. Tech fans can also hear the game and get video and live stats on Gametracker on RamblinWreck.com.

Last Time We Met: The sixth-ranked Yellow Jackets saw their nation-leading 16-game winning streak snapped by the Bears, 4-2, last March 29 at Russ Chandler Stadium. Tech out-hit Mercer, 10-6, led by Matt Skole, who had three hits, including an RBI double in the first, that scored Kyle Wren. Wren had two hits on the day. Chase Butler’s fourth inning RBI single made it 2-0 for the Jackets, but that would be all they’d get. The Bears rallied, for a run in the fifth, got the tying run in the seventh, then scored the winning runs in the eighth on a two-out, Evan Boyd double. Dusty Isaacs took the loss for the Jackets.

Jump, Jake, Jump: Florida State’s pitching was just what the doctor ordered for Jake Davies. The senior came into last weekend’s series batting .229 (11-for-48) in the team’s first 12 ACC games, with a .260 on-base percentage. Thanks to his hot series, Davies is now batting .286 in conference play, a healthy 57-point jump, and he raised his OBP to .321, a 61-point jump.

Unlucky Seven: A pair of seven-game hitting streaks came to an end for the Yellow Jackets on Sunday. Both LF Brandon Thomas and 2B Thomas Smith saw their streaks halted. Smith had hit in each of his first seven collegiate starts since debuting on March 28th against Georgia Southern. Thomas had a seven-game hitting streak earlier in the season. Thomas and Smith’s series paralleled each other, as both had one hit in the first game (Thomas’ was a dramatic, game-tying double in the ninth), and both had three hits in the second game before going 0-fer in the finale.

Within Reach: Thomas’ hitting streak may have come to an end Sunday but his streak of reaching base is still going strong. With his fourth-inning walk, the junior outfielder has now reached base in 34 consecutive games, including all 32 games he’s played this season. Thomas hit .400 last week (6-for-15), to raise his average to .365 on the season. That’s sixth in the league. In ACC play he’s even better, batting .377, which ranks second. Thomas’ league average is seven points higher than teammate Sam Dove, the ACC hits leader (49).

On Deck: Georgia Tech hits the road this weekend playing a series at Wake Forest, which sits in fourth place in the Atlantic Division. The Bears stay in town, taking on Georgia State Wednesday night, before going home for a weekend series against Atlantic Sun leader Belmont.

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