The On-Tech Circle: No. 23 Georgia Tech (18-11) at Kennesaw State (18-11)

April 2, 2012

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Tuesday: Cole Pitts, RHP (3-1, 4.26) vs. Kevin McCoy, RHP (0-0, 1.93), 6:00 p.m.

Coming off a strong weekend that nearly saw a sweep of Duke, Georgia Tech visits Kennesaw State for a midweek showdown. First pitch at Stillwell Stadium is scheduled for 6 p.m.

The Jackets who have won four of six, are looking to improve on their 4-3 mark in midweek games. On Sunday, Tech dropped a tough 4-3 decision to Duke, preventing the series sweep. The game saw another quality start from Dusty Isaacs, who allowed three runs (two earned) over six, allowing only six hits. Josh Heddinger took the loss despite limiting Duke to one run and two hits over three innings. Brandon Thomas stayed hot, going 3-for-5 and Kyle Wren and Thomas Smith both had multi-hit games for the Jackets, who saw the game-tying run thrown out at the plate on the game’s final play.

The Owls are a different team than the one the Jackets blasted 11-5 back on Feb. 29th at Russ Chandler Stadium. They are 15-6 since that loss, have won their last five series and are tied for the lead in the Atlantic Sun Conference. On Sunday, KSU finished off a sweep of North Florida, rallying for three in the bottom of the ninth to earn a 4-3 decision. Shortstop Peyton Hart went 3-for-4 and A-Sun Player of the Week Andy Criscaden added two hits in the victory.

With the win on Feb. 29, Georgia Tech holds a 13-4 edge in the series which dates back to 1987, but they are only 2-3 at Stillwell Stadium, and have lost there the last two years.

Tonight’s game can be heard on WREK, 91.1 FM in Atlanta with Nolan Alexander and Wade Rogers calling the action. Tech fans can also hear the game, as well as get live stats, at RamblinWreck.com.

Last Time We Met At Kennesaw: The Owls walked off with a 7-6 win in the teams’ last meeting at Stillwell Stadium, last April 5. Jacob Esch allowed the game-winning single in relief of Luke Bard in the ninth, as KSU rallied for three to steal the victory. Georgia Tech pitchers allowed a season-high 11 bases-on-balls in the game. Offensively, Kyle Wren went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

Buck’s Hill: Buck Farmer’s complete-game, 11-strikeout victory in the first game Saturday against Duke earned him ACC Pitcher of the Week honors. It’s the first such honor for Farmer this year, but not the first of his career. He earned it last season for the week of May 15, after blanking North Carolina over eight, allowing four hits and three walks while whiffing seven. The 11 K’s were two off his career-high for strikeouts, set this season on Feb. 24 against Ohio State.

Cruz’n: Alex Cruz raised his stock over the weekend, as he came out of the bullpen throwing goose eggs in the second game on Saturday. The sophomore righty earned his first collegiate win, relieving Luke Bard with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth inning of a 1-0 game. He got out of that jam then didn’t allow a hit or a walk the rest of the way, facing two batters over the minimum. The only Blue Devils to reach came on a hit-batsman in the sixth and an error in the seventh. Cruz lowered his ERA to 1.77 on the season (four earned runs in 20 1/3 innings).

Really Useful: Thomas Smith has made the most of his opportunity at second base. Since debuting at second base last Wednesday against Georgia Southern, the freshman walk-on has hit .667 (8-for-12), has scored three times, drawn three walks and struck out but one time. Defensively, he’s successfully handled 15 of 16 chances, with the one error coming in his debut vs. GSU. His run was the game-winner in the 1-0 win over Duke in the series opener, and he delivered the eventual game-winning RBI in the nightcap.

On Deck: Following this series, Georgia Tech comes home for a weekend showdown with No. 3 Florida State, which leads the Atlantic Division and the entire ACC with an 11-1 record. The Owls, third in the A-Sun, visit rival Lipscomb, which is one game behind them.

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