The On-Tech Circle: No. 12 Georgia Tech (18-4, 6-0) vs. Miami (14-8, 6-0)

March 24, 2011

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

No. 12 Georgia Tech (18-4, 6-0) vs. Miami (14-8, 6-0)

Friday: Mark Pope (5-0, 0.23) vs. Bryan Radziewski (3-1, 1.95), 7:00 p.m.
Saturday: Jed Bradley (3-0, 1.44) vs. E.J. Encinosa (1-2, 3.41), 1:00 p.m.
Sunday: Buck Farmer (3-1, 2.43) vs. Eric Whaley (4-1, 2.61), 1:00 p.m.

The 12th-ranked Georgia Tech baseball team faces its first and sternest ACC road test of the season, venturing into Coral Gables to take on the University of Miami in a weekend set. The last of the ACC unbeatens, they come in 6-0 and sit tied at the top of the Coastal Division.

All three games will broadcast on television, with Friday and Sunday’s matchups on CSS, and Saturday’s slate on Fox Sports South.

Tech comes in riding a season-high 13-game winning streak after blasting Georgia, 15-6, on Tuesday afternoon in Athens. The Jackets got a career-best eight RBIs from Matt Skole, who went 5-for-5, with two homers (including a grand slam). Freshman Matt Grimes raised his record to 4-1, limiting the Bulldogs to two runs and five hits over six. The Hurricanes extended their winning streak to nine on Tuesday night, coming from behind to top Florida Gulf Coast, 5-2. Junior Harold Martinez went 1-for-3 with three RBIs and Travis Miller earned the win..

Georgia Tech trails in the series, 26-47-2 all-time, but has won the regular-season series the last two years.

Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech proved rude hosts, as Deck McGuire pitched through a 25-minute rain delay on Friday night, and held the Hurricanes, to a run and four hits over seven innings in the 14-3 victory. McGuire got plenty of support from Chase Burnette, who drove in four runs and Jay Dantzler, who delivered three more. The Jackets scored 14 unanswered runs after spotting the ‘Canes a 1-0 lead. On Saturday, Miami pounded out 17 hits and gave Mark Pope what would be his only loss of the year, taking a 9-2 decision. Chris Palaez had a homer and two singles and drove in four runs in the win. Burnette’s two-run homer gave Tech its only runs. In the finale, Jed Bradley pitched six strong innings in the 4-2 win. Derek Dietrich and Matt Skole each had three hits as Tech rallied from 3-0 down, with a four-run sixth, that featured Skole’s 16th homer, a Dantzler RBI single, a Dietrich infield hit and an ensuing error. The bullpen did the rest, shutting out the Canes on two hits over the final three frames.

Skole, Brother: Junior Matt Skole is showing the form that made him a preseason All-America candidate. His 5-for-5 night against Georgia was the first five-hit game of his career, his 50th multi-hit game, and his fourth multi-hit game in the last five. In those five games, he’s hitting .550 (11-for-20), with two homers, 14 RBIs and 10 runs scored — two in each game. Skole begins the weekend leading the conference in walks (20), walks per game (1.00), and RBIs per game (1.40), is second in the conference in homers (5), RBIs (28) and slugging (.689), is third in on-base percentage (.521), tied for fourth in runs scored (24), ranks sixth in total bases (51), and seventh in hitting (.392).

Foley Smokes!: Georgia Tech has really enjoyed its last two visits to Foley Field. The Jackets have outscored the Bulldogs 40-12, and have hit .449 as a team (40-for-89). Skole has especially enjoyed the visits, hitting .778 (7-for-9), with three homers, five runs scored and 13 RBIs.

Wren-away Train: There has been no stopping freshman Kyle Wren this year. He’s reached base in all 22 games, he leads the ACC in hitting (.467), in hits (42, second in the country), in hits per game (1.91), in runs (30) and in runs per game (1.36), he’s second in triples (3) is tied for second in total bases (56) is tied for third in stolen bases (8), and is sixth in the conference in slugging (.529). Oh, and he’s perfect defensively in the center field. Wren was ACC Player of the Week last week, batting .591, with 13 hits, three stolen bases, nine runs scored, a .727 slugging percentage, and a .609 on-base percentage.

Tasty Hors d’oeuvres: While Wren has been sensational, he’s getting great support from two-hole hitter Jacob Esch. The duo has combined for 52 runs (Wren 30, Esch 22, they’re 1-3 on the club), and only twice all season have both been held off the scoreboard — in back-to-back games on March 8 vs. Kennesaw State, and March 11 vs. Maryland. Tech still won both games. The duo has not been held hitless in the same game all year. Over the last five games, the pair has scored 21 times (Wren, 12, Esch, 9), while batting a combined .511 (23-for-45). Wren is hitting .636 in that stretch (14-for-22), while Esch is at .391 (9-for-23). The pair rank first and third in the ACC in hits per game (Wren is first at 1.91, Esch third at 1.55), and are in the top 10 in runs per game (Wren is first at 1.36, Esch 10th at 1.00).

On Deck: Georgia Tech come home to host Mercer on Tuesday, then heads back out on the road for a weekend series with Duke. Miami hosts Florida Gulf Coast Tuesday then travels to Chestnut Hill for a weekend set with Boston College.

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