The On-Tech Circle: No. 14 Georgia Tech (14-6) at No. 17 Georgia (15-6)

March 19, 2012

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Starting Pitchers: Zane Evans, RHP (0-0, 4.97) vs. David Sosebee, RHP (1-0, 1.08), 7:00 p.m.

Coming off an emotional weekend that saw Head Coach Danny Hall chalk up career win No. 1,000 and the team win its first ACC series of the season, No. 14 Georgia Tech heads to Athens for its first of three games this season with rival, No. 17 Georgia. The game is the last for a favorable opening to UGA’s 2012 schedule that has seen the Bulldogs play 20 of their first 21 at Foley Field.

In the third and deciding game of the series on Sunday, Daniel Palka hit his third homer in as many games, a three-run shot that highlighted a four-run first, and Luke Bard (1-0) allowed one run and five hits without issuing a walk in five innings in his first start of the season, in the 9-1 victory over Virginia Tech. Tonight’s starter, Zane Evans caught and went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Defensively he gunned down two potential base-stealers.

The Bulldogs were denied a sweep of their first SEC series and saw their four-game winning streak snapped Sunday afternoon, dropping a 3-0 decision to Tennessee. Michael Palazzone (0-2) took the loss allowing two runs (both earned) and seven hits in five innings despite striking out seven. CF Nelson Ward had two of Georgia’s six hits. The Bulldogs brought the tying run to the plate with nobody out in the ninth but the Vols’ bullpen stymied the rally.

Georgia Tech and Georgia renew a series that dates back to 1898. Tonight’s game is the 354th in the series, which Georgia Tech trails, 197-154-2 (Tech is 53-111 on the road) but have won five of the last six meetings in the series.

Tonight’s game can be seen live on CSS with Matt Stewart and Rusty Ensor on the call and and a radio broadcast will be available at Ramblinwreck.com, with Nolan Alexander and Will Long calling the action. Gametracker is available on Ramblinwreck.com.

Last Time We Met: Tech’s last trip to Foley Field was a memorable one for Matt Skole. The junior third baseman went 5-for-5, with two homers, including a grand slam, and eight RBIs in the Jackets’ 15-6 victory. Jake Davies also homered for the Jackets, who pounded out 15 hits off nine Georgia pitchers. Tech trailed 2-1 heading into the fifth, but scored eight unanswered runs to take control. Davies tied the game with his third homer of the season, kicking off a three-run rally that put the Jackets ahead for good. Skole added an RBI single in the frame and Daniel Palka ripped an RBI double. Later, Kyle Wren and Sam Dove added RBI singles and Skole’s grand slam keyed a six-run ninth. Matthew Grimes earned the win, allowing two runs and five hits over six. The Bulldogs rallied for four with one out in the eighth, but Luke Bard came in and slammed the door, then pitched a scoreless ninth.

Foley Rollers: Georgia Tech has more than nullified home field advantage in Athens of late. In its three visits since 2009, Georgia Tech has scored in double-digits all three games, outscoring the Bulldogs 51-18. Tech won 11-6 in 2009, 25-6 in 2010 and 15-6 last season. In that three-game stretch, the Jackets have hit .422 (54-for-128), with 18 extra-base hits (five doubles, four triples and nine homers). Georgia has hit .330, with 14 extra-base hits (eight doubles, six homers, but five of those came in 2009). Pitching-wise, Tech pitchers have pitched to a 5.33 ERA, but have struck out 22 while walking 11. Georgia has pitched to a 17.00 ERA, striking out 23, while walking 28.

Early and Often: Fans planning on attending tonight’s game had better get there early. Georgia Tech has shown a tendency of jumping out to quick starts, outscoring their opponents 88-42 over the first four innings. The earlier they score, the better their results seem to be, as Tech is 11-1 when scoring first and 9-0 when scoring in the first inning. Georgia also has been a fast starter, having outscored opponents 18-2 in the first inning, but were shut out all three games in the opening frame against Tennessee.

On the Swings of a Dove: While it’s difficult to know where Sam Dove is going to be in the field, it’s been pretty easy to find him offensively — just look on the base paths. Heading into tonight’s game, Dove is riding an 11-game hitting streak and is coming off a week that saw him bat .353 (6-for-17) with three doubles and four RBIs. The former walk-on is hitting .395 for the season, which ranks third in the ACC, is tied for fourth in hits (76) and is seventh in OBP (.477).

Jake The Rake: As hot as Dove was last week, the hottest bat in the Yellow Jackets order may have belonged to senior Jake Davies. The senior hit a smokin’ .467 (7-for-15), with a double, homer, a team-high nine RBIs and four runs scored. He walked twice and didn’t strike out. Tonight will be Davies’ fourth career game at Foley Field, yet he’s only made one career start. That’s one start too many for the home team considering the way his first one went last year. Davies went 3-for-6, with a homer. For his career, Davies is a .500 hitter in Athens, as his sophomore year he entered the game as a pinch-hitter and stayed in the game, going 1-for-2.

On Deck: Georgia Tech gets back on the road this weekend, traveling to Chestnut Hill for an ACC series with Boston College. Georgia has an SEC series this weekend, heading to Nashville, to play Vanderbilt.

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