May 26, 2004
SALEM, Va. – Brian Burks pitched eight strong innings and Steven Blackwood hit a two-run double to lift top-seeded Georgia Tech (39-17) to a 4-3 win over #9 seed Maryland (22-33) in the first round of the 2004 Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament on Wednesday afternoon at Salem Memorial Stadium. The Yellow Jackets won their 18th straight game, the longest current streak in the nation.
Georgia Tech advances in the winner’s bracket and will face #4 seed Clemson on Thursday at 5 p.m. Maryland will face #5 seed North Carolina in an elimination game at 10 a.m.
Burks (7-5) outdueled Maryland starter Sean Kane (1-8) to pitch the Yellow Jackets to the first round victory.
“It was certainly a tough ball game,” said Tech head coach Danny Hall. “Maryland played extremely well. Their guy (Sean Kane) pitched well and he kept us in check other than the one inning. To our credit, Brian Burks really settled down and pitched great after the first inning. We were able to capitalize and score runs in the one inning and hold onto it.”
The 2003 ACC Tournament MVP, Burks tied a season high with eight innings and held the Terrapins to three runs on 10 hits. After a shaky first inning where he allowed two runs on four hits, the senior settled down to allow six hits over the next seven innings.
Nick Wagner worked a scoreless ninth inning for his third save of the year.
“Brian is a great pitcher and a great competitor,” said Hall. “He wants the ball in these kind of games. Our whole team trusts him when he has the baseball. We got through the game with just him and Wagner throwing just a few pitches in the ninth. That is always good in a tournament.”
Kane was the tough luck loser in a complete game, eight-inning effort. He allowed four runs on eight hits and four walks. Tech’s four runs were the fewest scored in the Yellow Jackets’ current 18-game win streak.
The Terrapins jumped on Burks for two runs in the top of the first. Matt Maropis laced the first pitch of the game for a triple to center field and scored on Will Frazier’s RBI single. After Brian Jarosinski singled to put runners on first and third bases, Dan Melvin dropped a two-out RBI single into shallow right field to give Maryland a 2-0 lead.
The Yellow Jackets answered with four runs in the third inning to take a 4-2 lead. Whit Robbins walked and Mike Trapani singled to start the inning, and Eric Patterson followed with a RBI single. After Tyler Greene legged out a bunt single to load the bases with no outs, Blackwood laced a two-run double off the left field wall. Micah Owings hit a sacrifice fly to score Greene with the final run of the inning.
Maryland pulled to within 4-3 in the top of the eighth when Jarosinski doubled and scored on Truan Mehl’s two-out RBI single.
The Terapins put the tying run on base when Maropis singled with one out in the ninth inning. But Wagner induced a double play groundout from Anthony Buffone to end the game and preserve the victory.
Tech’s Clifton Remole had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. Patterson recorded his 44th stolen base of the year, including 29 straight without being caught.
“We knew that this was not going to be easy,” said Hall. “I felt coming out of the weekend they had some guys that could hit, and they showed that last night by scoring 15 runs. We didn’t see Kane last weekend and he had been one of their weekend guys for most of the year. I knew we were going to be in for a battle.”
Georgia Tech won its first round game in the ACC Tournament for the fifth time in the last six years. The Yellow Jackets won their fifth straight game in Salem after capturing the 2003 tournament title with four straight wins.