The On-Tech Circle: Georgia Tech (29-19, 10-14) vs. Georgia (28-20, 12-12, SEC)

May 8, 2012

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Starters: Josh Heddinger, RHP (2-4, 6.17) vs. David Sosebee, RHP (2-0, 5.06), 7:00 p.m.

Georgia Tech plays the third and deciding game of their three-game season series with Georgia, hosting the Bulldogs tonight at Russ Chandler Stadium.

Yellow Jackets’ head coach Danny Hall said he doesn’t expect to have to remind his squad of the magnitude of the game.

“It’s always an important game on our schedule every year,” said Hall, who carries a 38-29 record in his career against UGA. “The series is tied so whoever wins [today] is going to win the series. Our guys are going to be excited, their guys are going to be excited. It’s going to be a great game.”

“I’d like to go out on another winning series with Georgia,” added senior Jake Davies. “Hopefully we have a big home crowd tomorrow. I love playing against those guys. Any day you get to play against Georgia is a fun day. Any time you beat them is fun. Not just for us but for the fans. They enjoy it more than we do. Our fans are living and dying on beating Georgia.”

The Yellow Jackets are coming in feeling good, following their weekend sweep of Charlotte at Russ Chandler Stadium. Tech completed the sweep on Sunday, with a dramatic 6-5 win in 11 innings. The game saw Tech bounce back from allowing Charlotte to rally from 4-2 down in the ninth to tie the game, then came off the deck to tie the game after the 49ers took the lead in the 10th. In the 11th, Daniel Palka ripped a two-out single to deliver Sam Dove with the winning run. Dove led off the inning with a single, stole second then advanced to third on a wild pitch. Palka, Davies, who drove in three runs, and Kyle Wren had multi-hit games for the Jackets. Josh Heddinger pitched a scoreless 11th to earn the win.

The Bulldogs are coming off their first SEC series sweep of the year, taking out Auburn at home last weekend. After a pair of close games on Friday and Saturday, Georgia won in a little easier fashion, 9-3, on Sunday. Freshman Luke Crumley allowed one run in five innings to get the win and Kyle Farmer belted a three-run homer, his fourth of the season, to cap a four-run second. It was the Bulldogs’ first three-run homer of the season. The shortstop went 3-for-5 on the day and hit .467 (7-for-15) in the series.

Georgia Tech and Georgia meet for the final time this season and the 356th time all-time. Tech trails the series, 155-198-2, but is 88-68-1 in home games, and has won six straight at The Rusty C.

Tonight’s game will be broadcast on CSS, with Matt Stewart and Randy Carroll on the call. Tech fans also can catch the game on WREK 91.1 FM in Atlanta. Fans also can get live stats on RamblinWreck.com.

The Last Time We Met…: Georgia Tech edged Georgia, 4-3, in a nip-and-tuck affair at Turner Field in the 10th Annual Kauffman Tire Spring Classic for Kids on April 24. Mott Hyde was the hitting star, going 3-for-4 (a single, double and homer), with two RBIs and three runs scored. His third run proved to be the game-winner in the top of the ninth. Hyde led off the final frame with a single, stole second then came around to score on Kyle Wren’s double down the right-field line. The win was only the third in 10 tries at the Ted, but the seventh in the last 10 against Georgia. Josh Heddinger, Zane Evans and Alex Cruz each was solid, allowing a run, with Cruz pitching the final three innings to get the win. Evans struck out four in his 2 1/3-inning stint.

For Starters: While today is a staff day for the Yellow Jackets, Heddinger will get the ball first and try to continue a trend of superb starts for the Jackets that began over the weekend. Against Charlotte, Tech starters Buck Farmer, Jake Davies and Cole Pitts pitched to a combined ERA of 1.04, allowing two earned runs in 17 1/3 innings. Farmer set the tone in the opener on Saturday, throwing seven shutout frames. Davies made a surprise start in the first game Sunday, and didn’t disappoint, giving up but one run in 4 1/3 and Pitts allowed one run in six innings of the nightcap. Heddinger has made four starts in his freshman campaign, pitching to a 7.79 ERA. He’s allowed 11 earned runs in 12 2/3 innings, but only three in his last two starts covering six innings. His longest outing of the season is a 6 2/3-inning effort against Georgia Southern. Heddinger pitched against Georgia at Turner Field and limited them to a run and two hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Men of Steal: The Yellow Jackets set a season-high with six stolen bases in Sunday’s win over Charlotte. Sam Dove, Connor Winn, Mott Hyde and Evan Martin each stole one base — Dove’s setting up the game-winning run in the 11th — and Daniel Spingola stole two bases, the first two of his college career. Tech’s previous single-game high for steals this season was five, done twice. The first time came on March 13 against Wagner, when Brandon Thomas, Kyle Wren, and Mott Hyde, each had a steal and Winn stole two. For Winn and Hyde it was their first swipes of the season. Tech last accomplished five steals in a game on March 27th against Georgia Southern, when Thomas and Palka stole two each and Dove got one.

When The Rubber Hits The Road: While every game in this series matters, tonight’s game matters more than most, as it will decide the season series. It marks the first time since 2007 that the Georgia Tech-Georgia series comes down to a final game, as the Jackets have had the series sewn up every year since (the teams only met twice and split in 2009). Rubber games used to be commonplace, as in 2004, 2006 and 2007, the series came down to the third and final game. They split those three games, with Georgia winning two. None of those were played at Russ Chandler Stadium, as one was in Athens, the other two at Turner Field. This will be the first deciding game played at Russ Chandler Stadium since the teams started meeting three times a year in 2004. Adding importance to this game is that Tech’s senior class (Davies, Winn, Martin and Jarrett Didrick) have not lost a season-series to Georgia, splitting two games in 2009 (one was cancelled) and sweeping in ’10 and winning in ’11.

The Walk-off Palka: When it gets late, it’s time for Daniel Palka to take over. The Yellow Jackets have two walk-off hits this year and Palka has both of them. They’ve come in consecutive weekends, as he won Sunday’s game against Charlotte with an 11th-inning single, and, the weekend before, won the April 27th game against Clemson with a solo homer in the 13th. Palka’s not just hitting late as he’s hitting .344 over Tech’s last 18 games.

On Deck: Georgia Tech heads to Charlottesville for its final ACC road series of the season, a Coastal Division showdown with Virginia. Georgia hosts SEC Eastern Division-leading South Carolina this weekend in its final regular-season home series.

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