The On-Tech Circle: No. 19 Georgia Tech (23-9) at Georgia (12-21)

April 8, 2013

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Pitching Match-up: Jonathan King, LHP (2-2, 3.60) vs. David Gonzalez, LHP (1-2, 7.63), 7:00 p.m.

Georgia Tech will look to get the bats going tonight in a midweek game against rival Georgia at Foley Field in Athens. It’s the first of three games this season against the Bulldogs.

The Yellow Jackets, who have lost four of six, endured a tough weekend up in Durham against Duke, losing two of three and scoring only two runs the entire weekend. Tech’s lone win came Saturday, a come-from-behind 2-1 victory, in which Thomas Smith’s eighth-inning RBI single drove in the game-winner. Zane Smith retired the side in the ninth to earn his second save. Jonathan King, who threw 2 2/3 shutout innings in relief of starter Dusty Isaacs (5 1/3, one run, five hits, four strikeouts, one walk) got the win. King will try to stay hot as he gets the start tonight. The Jackets left 10 on base on Friday in losing 2-0, then managed only five hits on Sunday in a 3-0 loss.

The Bulldogs continued their up-and-down play over the weekend, dropping two of three at Foley Field to Missouri. UGA has now split its last eight games, following a nine-game losing streak. Georgia’s only win on the weekend also came Saturday, a 6-5 win, in which they nearly squandered an early 5-0 lead. Dylan Cole, Georgia’s fourth relief pitcher, threw the final inning, allowing a run on two hits before closing the door on the Tigers to earn his third save of the season. Right fielder Jared Walsh went 2-for-4, with two RBIs. Shortstop Kyle Farmer also drove in two runs. Georgia, which was shutout 4-0 Friday night, wasn’t as lucky holding a five-run lead on Sunday, as their 5-0 lead after three disappeared in a four-run ninth. Walsh again went 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Tonight’s game renews a rivalry that dates back to 1898. The Jackets trail the all-time series, 156-198-2 and are 53-112 in Athens. The pendulum has swung back under Danny Hall, however, as Tech is 39-29 against the Bulldogs, 14-11 in regular season play (14-14 overall) at Foley Field, and, although losing last year, have won four of the last five as the road team. Overall they’ve won eight of the last 11 games.

Jackets fans can watch tonight’s game on CSS or on ESPN3 with Matt Stewart and Rusty Ensor on the call. They can hear all the action on WREK 91.1 FM in Atlanta, with Nolan Alexander and Wiley Ballard. Live stats are available on Gametracker on RamblinWreck.com.

Let’s play ball!

Last Time We Met in Athens: Georgia Tech saw a four-game winning streak snapped at Foley Field, as Georgia used a pair of big innings to down the Jackets, 7-1, last March 20. The Jackets had eight hits, one fewer than the Bulldogs, but two errors hurt, resulting in three unearned runs. Zane Evans took the lose, going four innings, allowing four runs, but only two earned, and six hits in his first career starts. He deserved a better fate, as down 1-0, a misplayed ball in the outfield and an infield error allowed three more runs to score in the second. Sam Dove went 2-for-3 to extend his hitting streak to 12 games and first baseman Jake Davies drove in Tech’s only run, scoring Kyle Wren with a sixth-inning single to cut the deficit to 4-1 But Georgia answered with three runs, capitalizing on Tech’s second error of the game to put the game away.

Big Piece Missing: The Yellow Jackets offense has sputtered since CF Brandon Thomas was pronounced out indefinitely with mononucleosis on March 29. Thomas was the ACC’s leading hitter (.441) and was among the leaders in hits (41), runs (31), slugging (.591), and on-base percentage (.509). With him in the lineup, Tech was 18-5, scoring 9.3 runs per game (214 runs in 23 games). In the nine games since Thomas has been out, the Jackets have scored 35 runs (3.9 rpg), are 5-4 and have been held to two runs or less four times, something that happened once in the first 23 games.

Tech-nicalities: When Kyle Wren’s hitting streak was stopped at 20 games on Sunday by Duke’s Robert Huber, he was two-thirds of the way to matching the school record, which was set by Victor Menocal in 2002. Wren’s run made him one of 13 Yellow Jackets in school history to have a hitting streak of at least 20 games and was the longest in eight years, since Tyler Green hit in 23 straight.

King Me: Jonathan King is 0-1 with a no-decision and a 5.00 ERA in his two mid-week starts, but he’s pitched well in both. Problem is he’s received one run of support in the nine innings he’s been in. In his first midweek start, on March 26 against The Citadel, King allowed two earned runs and five hits, with a pair of strikeouts and a pair of walks in five innings. He left trailing 2-0. The Jackets would rally with a run in the seventh, two in the eighth and two in the ninth to pull out a 5-4 win. His last time out, April 2, at Mercer, King went four innings, allowing three earned runs and five hits, striking out four, while walking two. He left the game trailing 3-1. Tech would be undone by a seven-run eighth.

Tech Notes: Buck Farmer went nearly a calendar year between ACC losses. His hard-luck loss Friday night at Duke, when he went eight innings, allowing two runs on six hits, striking out seven without walking a batter, was his first against ACC opposition since April 13, 2012, when he fell to Wake Forest. On that night, Farmer went six innings, allowing eight hits and four runs, none of them earned in a 4-2 loss…Georgia Tech batted only .067 (2-for-30) with runners in scoring position in the series against Duke…In the four-regular-season games in Athens prior to last season’s 7-1 loss, the Jackets scored 61 runs (15.25 per game), including a series-high 25 in 2010 and 15 more in 2011…Georgia is 1-9 in its last 10 home games, while Tech is 2-6 in its last eight on the road.

On Deck: Georgia Tech gets back into ACC play hosting a weekend series against No. 6 Virginia. Georgia resumes its SEC schedule traveling to Auburn for a weekend set.

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