The On-Tech Circle: Georgia Tech (26-19) vs. Charlotte (20-23)

May 4, 2012

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Saturday: Buck Farmer, RHP (6-3, 3.50) vs. Andrew Smith, RHP (5-6, 4.33), 6 p.m.
Sunday Game One: TBA vs. Joe Yermal, RHP (6-3, 2.93), 2 p.m.
Sunday Game Two: Cole Pitts, RHP (4-4, 4.96) vs. Tyler Barnette, RHP (2-3, 4.36), 5:30 p.m.

Georgia Tech gets a rare weekend off from ACC play but will be in action, hosting the Charlotte 49ers of the Atlantic 10 in a Saturday-Sunday three-game set.

The Yellow Jackets, who have had the week off for exams, look to bounce back from an emotional weekend series against Clemson, which saw them forge a remarkable comeback win on Friday, but then drop the final two games of the series. Sunday’s game followed a similar script for the series, as Tech fell behind 7-0 before fighting back to pull within one after six. But they would get no closer, falling 11-8. Jake Davies pounded two homers on Sunday, his sixth and seventh of the season, and drove in four runs, while Brandon Thomas and Zane Evans also had multi-hit games for the Jackets, who dropped their second straight home ACC series and third in four overall.

The 49ers also had the week off for finals, a respite that wasn’t necessarily well-timed for them, as they swept A-10 cellar-dweller George Washington last weekend on the road. In Sunday’s finale, Charlotte pounded out 20 hits and scored 15 runs (both season highs), in a 15-3 victory that sealed the sweep. Third baseman Shane Basen went 4-for-6, with five RBIs, four of them coming in a nine-run fourth inning and every Niners starter recorded at least one hit. Pitcher Tyler Barnette was the beneficiary of the offense. The sophomore carried a no-hitter into the sixth and left after six, having allowed two runs on one hit. He struck out five but walked six. Charlotte outscored GW 32-10 in the three games.

Georgia Tech and Charlotte have only met twice previously, with both games ending well for the Jackets. Tech won at Charlotte, 12-9, on April 12, 1982, then put up a dozen again when they met for the only time in the Danny Hall era, a 12-4 rout at Russ Chandler Stadium on March 3, 1998.

All three games will be broadcast on WREK 91.1 FM in Atlanta, with Nolan Alexander and Alex McIntosh on the call. Fans also can catch a webcast of the three games as well as get live stats on Gametracker on RamblinWreck.com.

True Grit: It takes a lot to knock pitcher Buck Farmer out of a game. Tech’s ace took a line drive off his knee in the third inning of Friday night’s game against Clemson. He not only stayed in the game, making a nice fielding play on a bunt by the next hitter, he pitched scoreless ball from the third into the ninth, allowing Tech to tie the game 2-2. It was the third time in his last five starts that Farmer has pitched at least eight innings. He’s pitched at least six innings in 10 of his 11 starts in 2012, eight of those qualifying as quality starts (at least six innings pitched allowing three or fewer earned runs). Over his last five games, Farmer is pitching to a 1.88 ERA (eight earned runs in 38 1/3 innings).

Saturday Night’s Alright For Firin’: Farmer has never been the Jackets’ Saturday starter per se but he doesn’t appear to mind pitching on that day. In three career starts on Saturday, all of them quality starts, he is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA (six earned runs in 22 innings). That ERA went down substantially following his one Saturday start this season, when he threw a complete-game shutout over Duke, with 11 strikeouts, on March 31 at Russ Chandler Stadium. Coincidentally, that start followed his worst career appearance at Boston College (4 1/3 innings, 11 earned runs, 14 hits). Today’s start against Charlotte follows his start against Clemson, when he allowed five earned runs, the most he’s allowed since the Boston College game.

Out-of-Conference, Out of this World: Georgia Tech’s non-conference opponents have not been in its league figuratively and literally, as Tech begins this weekend’s series with a 16-5 record in out-of-conference games. The Jackets, who carry a 35 RPI and are playing the 17th-toughest schedule in the country, are riding a five-game non-conference winning streak, during which they’ve beaten Georgia Southern, Kennesaw State, Mercer, Georgia State and Georgia. Four of those teams (Southern, Kennesaw, GSU and UGA) are ranked in the top 90 in RPI, while Mercer is at 106 and rising. Tech has outscored the opposition 35-19 in those games.

Better Late: Opposing teams are finding that being able to hang with Georgia Tech for six innings is nice, but it’s usually not good enough to win, as the Yellow Jackets have shown a propensity for pulling away late. Tech has outscored opponents 85-61 from the seventh inning on, including a 45-26 advantage in the seventh-inning — they lead 24-22 in the eighth and hold a 15-12 edge in the ninth. Those late bursts have helped Tech to a 4-1 record when tied after six innings (2-1 in ACC play), a 5-0 mark when knotted after eight (3-0 in the ACC) and 2-0 (1-0 in conference play) when even after eight. That’s in addition to the 20-2 mark (7-1 in the ACC) when up after six, 21-1 (7-1) when leading after seven, and 24-1 (9-1) when on top after eight.

Consistency, Thy Name Is Sam: Sam Dove continues to rank among the ACC’s leaders in hits (63, fifth), and batting average (.350, 10th), by continuing to wield a consistent stick. Dove, who had a 17-game hitting streak earlier in the season, has hit in seven of Tech’s last eight games and eight of the last 10. He hasn’t gone hitless on back-to-back game days all season and has only gone hitless in back-to-back games once. That was the season-opening double-header against Kent State (0-for-4) and Winthrop (0-for-2).

On Deck: Georgia Tech hosts Georgia on Wednesday in the rubber game of this year’s series, then heads to Charlottesville next weekend for its final ACC road series of the season against Virginia. Charlotte has no midweek game in preparation for hosting A-10 rival St. Louis over the weekend.

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