March 8, 2009
ATLANTA – Pinch-hitter Chase Burnette belted a three-run home to break an eighth-inning tie as Georgia Tech defeated Maryland, 10-7, Sunday and completed a sweep of the weekend Atlanta Coast Conference series at Russ Chandler Stadium.
Tech, the nation’s ninth-ranked team, improved to 9-1 on the season and 3-0 in the ACC, while Maryland fell to 4-7 and 0-3.
“Anytime you start 3-0 in the ACC, it’s great, and it’s important to win your games at home,” Tech head coach Danny Hall said.
Burnette’s second homer in as many games climaxed a see-saw affair which saw two ties and four lead changes. Mark Pope, Tech’s sixth pitcher of the day, improved to 2-0 with 1-1/3 innings of scoreless relief, ending an eighth-inning Terrapin threat and leaving a pair of Terps stranded in the ninth. The freshman from Marietta, Ga., has two wins and three saves in his last five appearances.
“He’s got good stuff, and he seems to handle the pressure very well,” Hall said. “I have a lot of confidence in him, and he seems to have a lot of confidence in himself.”
With the score tied 7-7, Luke Murton started the decisive eighth by drawing a walk from Maryland’s Dan Gentzler (1-1). After Matt Skole grounded out, Tony Plagman singled to set the stage for Burnette, who batted for Jay Dantzler and sent a 3-2 pitch over the center field wall.
Tech won the game after spotting Maryland an early 4-0 lead. The Terrapins struck for three runs on five hits against Tech starter Brandon Cumpton. Mike Murphy drove home two runs with a one-out single, and Gerry Spessard knocked in the third with a two-out hit. The Terps added an unearned run in the third on Spessard’s RBI single.
“Even though we fell behind today, I didn’t think Cumpton pitched badly,” Hall said. “Maryland did a good job of getting hits when they needed them. I also knew they’d fight back after losing the way they did yesterday (24-3 on Saturday).”
Tech got on the board in the third against Maryland starter Matt Fullerton, scoring three times on Cole Leonida’s leadoff home run, Jason Haniger’s RBI double and Matt Skole’s run-scoring single, bringing the Jackets to within 4-3.
Alfredo Rodriguez doubled and scored on Will Greenberg’s single to increase Maryland’s lead to 5-3 in the fourth. But Tech tied the game in its half of the inning when Leonida doubled, Derek Dietrich walked and Murton doubled them home.
Tony Plagman’s leadoff homer gave Tech a 6-5 lead in the fifth, but the Terps grabbed the advantage back with two runs in the seventh after Tech relievers Kevin Jacob and Zach Brewster loaded the bases with walks and two men scored on groundouts.
Tech tied the game at 7-7 in the seventh, benefitting from three bases on balls from Maryland relievers and scoring the tying run on Jeff Rowland’s sacrifice fly.
Neither starting pitcher figured in the decision. Cumpton completed four innings, giving up 10 hits and five runs (four earned), while Fullerton allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits in 3-2/3 innings. Tech’s relief corps gave up two runs in the final five innings.
“Our relief pitching was good, and we had some great at-bats down the stretch,” Hall said, “and Chase Burnette had an awesome at-bat to win the game with a three-run homer for us.”
Tech is next in action Tuesday when Mercer pays a visit to Russ Chandler Stadium for a 4 p.m. game.