May 16, 2011
By Jon Cooper
When Matt Skole takes the field with the Georgia Tech Baseball Team (37-15, 20-7) for tonight’s game against East Tennessee State (34-17, 15-10, Atlantic Sun), (First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.), he expects to have a lot of family on hand.
He’ll have the Georgia Tech family behind him for the last time during the 2011 regular season.
He’ll also have his actual family in the crowd.
“I have a whole lot of family coming in. My mom and dad, aunts, uncles,” said the Woodstock, Ga., native. “They’re all on my side.”
All but one, that is. That one is his uncle Tony.
There’s no of family feud or bad blood at work here. Far from it. In fact, Matt completely understands Tony’s rooting interest, as his uncle is ETSU’s Head Coach.
This will be Matt’s first game against his uncle as he looks to help Georgia Tech continue its perfect record against the Buccaneers — the Jackets are 23-0 all-time in the series, 7-0 with Tony Skole as head coach (the teams haven’t met since April 1, 2 of 2008) — as well as finish off its home slate strong. The Jackets are 24-7 this season at Russ Chandler Stadium.
The game will be the first since Georgia Tech won career ACC game no. 300 for Head Coach Danny Hall and will be the Bucs’ first since Tony Skole won his 400th career game. Both milestone wins came this weekend, as Tech beat North Carolina, 3-0, on Sunday, while ETSU recorded its milestone win on Saturday night, defeating Campbell, 13-9, on Saturday night.
It also will be the first in which Matt and his uncle have been in opposing dugouts, but they have been on opposite sides of baseball- related competition. The two indirectly went head-to-head in July in the 2010 TD Ameritrade College Home Run Derby held at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb.
The event was a success for both members of the family, as ETSU’s star first baseman Paul Hoilman won the event, while Skole finished third, but belted the longest home run of the competition. Assistant Coach Bryan Prince pitched to Skole, who won the first round and was the last hitter to bat at Rosenblatt.
Tony was complicit in his nephew not winning, however, as he was the pitcher Hoilman. Matt, again, holds no grudges.
“That was fun,” Skole recalled. “It’s always a thrill to be part of something in Omaha, at Rosenblatt Stadium. Paul and I are good friends. he’s a good guy.”
And for the pitcher?
“He’s always been a big part of my life,” he said. “I come from a baseball family.”
While Matt, Tech’s leader in RBIs (48), slugging (.597) and on-base percentage (.453) wouldn’t make any predictions about Tuesday, there has been some ribbing between the family members.
“He’s joked that I can expect four hit-by-pitches,” said Skole, who has yet to be hit by a pitch this season, with a laugh. “We kind of joke back and forth about it. It’s all in good fun.”