The On-Tech Circle: No. 8 Georgia Tech vs. No. 1 Florida State

May 22, 2012

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Wednesday: Buck Farmer, RHP (7-3, 3.49) vs. Scott Sitz, RHP (3-2, 3.81), 11:00 a.m.

Georgia Tech (32-24, 12-18) fought its way into the ACC Tournament — they’ve never missed one in its 33 years in the conference — and now will have its hands full trying to fight its way through it. The fight begins today with an 11:00 a.m. match-up with top-ranked Florida State (43-12, 24-8).

The Yellow Jackets held onto the eighth seed in the ACC by knocking off Miami, 2-1, on the final day of the season. Freshman Cole Pitts threw the game of his collegiate life, limiting the Hurricanes to one run and two hits over seven innings, before handing the ball to Alex Cruz and Zane Evans, who combined throw two scoreless innings, with Evans recording the final four outs. Down 1-0 in the second, Jake Davies hit his ninth homer of the season, a blast to right-center, to tie the game, then Daniel Palka blasted his 12th homer over the wall in right in the sixth, to give Tech the lead for good.

The Seminoles wrapped up their ACC season and the conference crown with a 6-2 win over NC State on Saturday. Right fielder Josh Delph had two hits and a career-best three RBIs for FSU, which drew 11 walks off Wolfpack pitchers. Ten of those walks came in the first four innings, on their way to a 6-0 lead. Mike Compton pitched six innings, allowing two runs on six hits, and striking out seven, in recording his ACC-high 10th win (against one loss). The win gave the ‘Noles a 24-6 record, matching the best record ever in conference play, tying Clemson in 2006 and FSU in 2008. It was their fifth 20-win season in ACC play since joining in 1992.

Georgia Tech and Florida State have met 13 times in ACC Tournament play, with the Seminoles holding a slim 7-6 edge. That includes a 4-2 win in pool play last year that snapped Tech’s three-game Tournament-series winning streak, and an 8-7 win in the 2004 title game.

Today’s game will be televised on RSN and ESPN3. Tech fans also can catch the game on WREK 91.1 FM in Atlanta. The game also can be heard via satellite radio on Sirius (Channel 93) and XM (Channel 190). Live stats are available on Gametracker on RamblinWreck.com.

The Last Time We Met In The ACC Tournament: Last May 28, Georgia Tech and Florida State went at it in a battle of top-10 teams, with the No. 7 overall and second-seeded Seminoles knocking off No. 8 and third-seeded Georgia Tech, 4-2. Buck Farmer threw six solid innings, allowing four runs (three earned) and seven hits while striking out eight, but was undone by a three-run third inning. The loss snapped his five-start winning streak. Freshman Zane Evans’ two-run single accounted for both of Tech’s runs in the seventh inning. The Jackets got no closer as they were unable to get the timely hit, leaving the bases loaded in the sixth and seventh and stranding the tying runs on base in the ninth.

Pitching Matchup: Buck Farmer was superb in his Friday night appearance against Florida State, allowing one run on five hits in eight innings, striking out eight and walking three. He left losing but got no decision, as Georgia Tech rallied for a run in the ninth. He has an 0-1 record but with a 2.57 ERA in two starts against FSU (three earned runs in 14.0 innings). Florida State starter Scott Sitz made a majority of his 2012 appearances as the midweek starter and has never faced Georgia Tech.

A Galaxy of All-Conference Stars: Wednesday’s game will feature no fewer than nine All-ACC performers, easily the most of any game, as the Seminoles had five All-ACC performers (including ACC Player of the Year James Ramsey), while the Yellow Jackets had four. No other team in the conference had more than three. Tech saw starter Buck Farmer and left fielder Brandon Thomas voted First Team, while first baseman/pitcher Jake Davies and right fielder Daniel Palka made it to the Second Team. The honors were the first for Palka and Thomas, while Farmer and Davies were Second Team last season. The honorees continued what has become a tradition under head coach Danny Hall. Since the start of the Danny Hall Era in 1994, 83 Jackets have earned All-ACC honors, with 40 of them making the first team. That’s second in that span behind only Florida State. Farmer’s selection makes it five straight seasons Tech has had a starting pitcher make All-ACC.

Learning On The Fly: It’s not a stretch to say that Georgia Tech will be spotting Florida State experience in ACC Tournament experience. No position players on this Jackets’ roster, have played in more than three Conference Tournament games. Offensively, the Jackets’ roster has five RBIs in Tournament play, all off the bat of Zane Evans, while Brandon Thomas is the leading hitter (.500, 5-for-10), and is tied with Mott Hyde for the most doubles (two each). Tech has three stolen bases (Thomas, Hyde and Evan Martin), and have not been caught stealing. On the pitching side, Jake Davies has the most experience, having appeared in four games. Aside from Farmer, who threw seven innings in his lone start and second appearance last season, Davies also has the most innings pitched, having thrown 2 1/3. The only other healthy pitchers, with any ACC Tournament experience are Clay Dalton and Dusty Isaacs, who combine for one inning of work. Neither has allowed a hit although, in two appearances, Dalton has thrown two-thirds of an inning, allowing three runs (one earned). He hasn’t allowed a hit but has walked five and struck out one. Isaacs has thrown a third of an inning. Oddly, he has not had a ball put in play, having recorded a walk and a strikeout.

Jake In The Zone: The Yellow Jackets will be counting on Davies to drive in runs and that’s a good thing when it comes to Florida State. The senior was one of three Jackets to hit in all three games against the Seminoles in this season’s series (Kyle Wren and Daniel Palka were the others) and batted .625 (5-for-8), scoring two runs and driving in three. Collectively, the Yellow Jackets batted .228 (24-for-105) against FSU pitchers. Take out Davies and the team average falls to .196, with 22 strikeouts in the three games. Davies did not fan in the series.

On Deck: Georgia Tech is off Thursday before taking on No. 4 seed Virginia on Friday at 11 a.m. then completes pool play on Saturday with an 11:00 a.m. match-up with fifth-seeded Clemson. Florida State also is off Thursday, resuming on Friday with a 3:00 p.m. match-up with Clemson then a 3:00 game with Virginia on Saturday to complete its pool play.

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