The On-Tech Circle: No. 24 Georgia Tech (9-4) vs. Maryland (8-4)

March 10, 2011

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

No. 24 Georgia Tech (9-4) vs. Maryland (8-4)

Friday: Mark Pope (3-0, 0.42) vs. Sander Beck (0-1, 4.96), 7:00 p.m.
Saturday: Jed Bradley (1-0, 2.08) vs. David Carroll (3-0, 1.33), 4:00 p.m.
Sunday: Buck Farmer (1-1, 3.00) vs. Eric Potter (2-0, 0.89), 1:00 p.m.

Riding a season-high four-game winning streak, No. 24 Georgia Tech makes its initial foray into ACC play, hosting the Maryland Terrapins (8-4) for a weekend series.

In their last game, the Jackets saw freshman shortstop Mott Hyde go 3-for-4, scoring twice and driving in four runs, while junior Luke Bard threw four innings of one-hit relief to preserve the win for freshman Matthew Grimes (2-1). Maryland has won three straight and seven of eight. The Terps blanked Delaware, 8-0, in their last game. Five pitchers combined to shut out the Blue Hens and a five-run seventh inning blew the game open. Outfielder Charlie White went 3-for-4 (all three hits were doubles).

Georgia Tech holds a 68-24 all-time edge in the series.

Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech and Maryland hooked up in an unusual three-game series last season at Shipley Field at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium in College Park, Md. The Terps nicked Deck McGuire for three runs in the first inning of the opener, and shut down the Jackets, winning the opener, 5-2. After that, it was all Georgia Tech. The Jackets blasted Maryland pitching, outscoring the Terps, 34-7 over the final two games. Tech won Saturday, 24-4, pounding out 20 hits, including four home runs, two of them by Jay Dantzler, who was 4-for-6, with 4 runs, and 8 RBIs. On Sunday, Tech smashed five more homers to take the series, 10-3. Cole Leonida went 3-for-5 with a homer and five RBIs.

Second Time Around: Georgia Tech will hope that lightening strikes twice both on Friday and Saturday. In the opener, the Jackets will get another look at junior right-hander Sander Beck. The last time they saw Beck was on March 21st, and they liked what they saw. They pounded out nine runs on six hits in 3 1/3 innings against him on the way to the series clinching 10-3 victory. Don’t let Beck’s 2011 record (0-1, 4.96 ERA) fool you, though. He has allowed three runs in each of his starts, and has left two of them with leads only to get a no-decision. Saturday, the Jackets will throw lefty Jed Bradley. Last year, he was superb, pitching against Beck and going seven innings allowing one run on six hits while striking out nine. Bradley will look to bounce back from his shortest outing of the year, against Rutgers, when he went 4 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs and four hits, striking out seven and walking four.

A Big Game: There’s no saying that Bradley’s start on Saturday will be the biggest game of the series, but the starting pitchers will be. Bradley stands 6-4 (only mid-week starter Grimes (6-6), and relievers Kevin Jacob (6-6) and Taylor Wood (6-7) stand taller. No one on either team stands taller than Maryland’s Saturday pitcher, David Carroll, a JuCo transfer from Western Nevada who stands 6-8, 235. He’s not overpowering — he’s only struck out 12 batters in 20 1/3 innings — but has been effective, having allowed only three runs and 14 hits in three starts, including an 18 1/3 inning scoreless streak. Part of that was his handcuffing of Texas (6.0, 1 run, three hits) in his Maryland debut.

Luke Bard The Door: Sophomore Luke Bard could make a case for how misleading statistics can be. Bard comes into the weekend series with a 4.50 ERA (six earned runs in 12 2/3 innings), the second-highest on the team. But he has been solid coming out of the bullpen. He’s earned a win and a save in his last two appearances, including the four-inning save Wednesday against Kennesaw State. In fact, he has been strong in every one of his appearances aside from this Feb. 22 start against Georgia Southern (3 2/3 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER). Including the Kennesaw outing, Bard’s ERA in relief is 2.57 (two earned runs in seven innings pitched). He’s struck out 10 and walked six.

Steal Away: Georgia Tech knew it would need to find different ways to win in 2011 and is finding it on the base paths. The Jackets have stolen 15 bases and have been stealing at a 75 percent success rate over the first 13 games. That’s higher than last year’s team, which stole at 71.3 success (at this point last year’s team was a shade below, 14-for-19, 73.6 percent). Among the top stealers are sophomore Brandon Thomas, who is 4-for-5. He had five steals all last season (in six attempts). Freshmen Kyle Wren also has four steals (in six tries) and Mott Hyde is 3-for-3. Freshmen Daniel Palka and Zane Evans and junior Jacob Esch are 1-for-1. Freshman DeAndre Smelter also has a steal. He is 1-for-2. The only player to attempt a steal but not succeed is junior Matt Skole, who is 0-for-1. Maryland also is a good base-stealing team, with an 81.8 percent success rate (18-for-22).

On Deck: Georgia Tech hosts Georgia Southern March 15 and 16. Maryland hosts Liberty March 15 and 16.

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