June 2, 2008
ATHENS, Ga. – Georgia Tech’s baseball team, which had overcome adversity all season long, could not overcome six errors and the hot bats of Georgia in an 18-6 loss to the Bulldogs in the deciding game of the Athens NCAA Baseball Regional at Foley Field.
Georgia (39-22-1) pounded out 18 hits off of six Yellow Jacket pitchers and scored at least two runs in six different innings to beat Georgia Tech for the second straight night and advance to next week’s Super Regional. The Bulldogs will host NC State, which beat South Carolina Saturday to win the Raleigh (NC) Regional, in a best-of-three series at Foley Field beginning Friday night.
“Obviously, we didn’t play championship-level baseball tonight,” Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall said, “and I take full responsibility for that. Give Georgia a lot of credit. They suffered a loss early (Friday vs. Lipscomb) and won all the games they needed to win to advance.
“I’m proud of my team after everything they went through this year. I’m disappointed for our seniors, that they won’t get to keep playing, but I’m very proud of them.”
The Yellow Jackets (41-21) entered the regional as one of the nation’s top power-hitting teams and a solid defensive club averaging just over one error per game. On Monday night, however, Tech could not muster any extra-base hits and committed a season-high six errors.
Georgia Tech, which played in the NCAA Tournament for the 24th time, finished the season with 40-plus wins for the 20th time in school history.
The Yellow Jackets led briefly – 5-3 after one inning – and the game appeared headed toward a slugfest. Tech had five first-inning hits and knocked Georgia starter Justin Grimm out of the game before he could record an out. In the 42-minute first inning, the two teams combined for eight runs, three wild pitches, three mound visits by coaches, one passed ball and an error.
But Tech’s lead was short-lived. Georgia took a 6-5 lead it would not relinquish in the top of the second inning off of Yellow Jacket reliever Brandon Cumpton, who started the inning in favor of starter Zach Von Tersch (7-6).
“I thought we grabbed the momentum back (in the bottom of the first, after trailing 3-0),” Hall said. “(Bryce) Massanari had a key hit in the second inning and we made an error after that. Defensively, we kept breaking down inning by inning. We didn’t pick it up, we didn’t catch it, we didn’t throw it.”
In the top of the fourth, Georgia scored four runs on the strength of a Matt Cerione two-run double and two Georgia Tech errors to take a 10-5 lead.
Tech stayed within striking distance by scoring a run in the bottom of the fourth to pull within 10-6. Jeff Rowland reached on a fielder’s choice, stole his 22nd base of the season and scored on a throwing error by Georgia third baseman Ryan Peisel.
That was as close as the Yellow Jackets would get. Georgia scored two runs in the fifth, three in the sixth and three more in the seventh to take an 18-6 lead.
Bulldog reliever Will Harvil, who came in after Dean Weaver was struck by a hard-hit ground ball in the fifth inning, put the clamps on Tech by scattering three hits over four innings. In the ninth, Georgia turned the ball over to ace reliever Joshua Fields to close the game out.
Georgia’s Matt Olson led all hitters by going 5-for-6 with three RBI.
Georgia’s 18 runs were the most allowed by Georgia Tech this season and the most surrendered by the Jackets in an NCAA Tournament game since 1996 when LSU beat Tech, 29-13. The Yellow Jackets did not commit an error in any of their first three games of the Athens Regional.
“Georgia just outplayed for us,” Tech reliever Brad Rulon said. “They hit the ball well and made the plays they needed to make.”
A crowd of 3,518 was on hand at Foley Field, including the head basketball coaches of both school’s – Georgia Tech’s Paul Hewitt and Georgia’s Dennis Felton.
“These guys did a tremendous job this season,” Hall said. “I give our team a lot of credit the way they turned things around and earned an NCAA Tournament bid.
`I have one of the best jobs in America. It’s a privilege to work at Georgia Tech, work with these players and see them develop on and off the field.”
– Blackmon extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
– Blackmon’s first-inning base hit was his 99th of the season, tying for the 14th-most single-season hits in Tech history. He came up one hit short in his attempt to reach 100 base hits.
– Georgia Tech is 3-2 at Foley Field in 2008.
– The Yellow Jackets are 2-4 all-time in NCAA Tournament play at Foley Field.
– Georgia Tech has earned an NCAA Tournament bid 22 times in the last 24 years.
– The Yellow Jackets are 56-49 all-time in NCAA Tournament play.
– Tonight’s game was the 347th all-time meeting between Georgia Tech and Georgia.