June 1, 2012
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Jake Davies and Brandon Thomas combined to drive in seven runs, and Dusty Isaacs backed that up with 5 1/3 innings of three-hit relief as Georgia Tech defeated the College of Charleston, 8-4, Friday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA Gainesville Regional at McKethan Stadium-Perry Field.
The Atlantic Coast Conference champion Yellow Jackets, the second seed in the regional, improved to 37-24 overall and advanced to a winners’ bracket game at 7 p.m. Saturday against either host Florida or Bethune-Cookman. The Gators, the national No. 1 seed, and the Wildcats played their first-round game Friday night.
Tech gave up a first-inning run to the Cougars but didn’t waste time taking the lead. Davies followed a one-out single by Sam Dove and a walk to Thomas with his 14th home run of the season – and fifth since the ACC Tournament started last Wednesday. The ACC Tournament MVP continued his hot hitting, belting the first pitch he saw from Charleston starter Christian Powell (9-4) over the right field fence.
The Cougars tied the game on a two-run homer from Marty Gantt in the top half of the second inning, but Tech quickly re-captured the lead by scoring four times in the bottom half.
After Mott Hyde singled and Paul Kronenfeld reached on a fielder’s choice, Cougar catcher Jimmy Holton mishandled a two-out dribbler from Kyle Wren in front of home plate, giving the Jackets a pair of runners on. Dove singled home Kronenfeld to put Tech ahead 4-3, then Thomas ripped the first offering from Powell over the right-field fence for a three-run home run and a 7-3 Tech lead.
“We gave up that run in the first, but Jake took care of that in the bottom of the first with his homer, which was a huge momentum shift,” said Tech coach Danny Hall. “Brandon’s home run was huge as well, giving us an even bigger lead.
“I think we’re pretty aggressive hitters, but I also think we’re pretty smart hitters. Sometimes that first pitch is the best one you’re going to see, and it’s a good one to jump on. I know Jake’s homer came on the first pitch, and so did Brandon’s. They both got pitches they thought they could handle, and they didn’t miss them.”
Each team added a run in the fourth, Charleston on Brandon Murray’s RBI single and Tech on Davies’ RBI double.
Isaacs (6-4) took it from there for the Yellow Jackets, who were playing their first NCAA regional game outside the state of Georgia since 1998. After starter Cole Pitts gave up the single to Murray, Isaacs came on to get the final out of the fourth and strand two Cougar runners, then allowed only four baserunners the rest of the way. He struck out four.
“The main thing I wanted to do today was force contact and get outs,” Isaacs said. “I had good command of all my pitches and I had a real good feeling for my slider.”
Pitts, a freshman who earned key wins for the Yellow Jackets against Miami to finish the regular season and against Virginia in the ACC Tournament, didn’t last long enough to get the victory Friday despite excellent run support. The right-hander gave up four runs and 10 hits and was lifted with two outs in the fourth.
Powell surrendered all eight Tech runs, though all four in the second inning were unearned, on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings. The Charleston bullpen held Tech in check on four hits over the final 4 2/3 innings, but the Cougars, who outhit Tech 13-11, could not muster any offense against Isaacs. It was just the third time this season that Tech won when getting out (3-16).
Thomas finished the game with four hits, while Davies, Dove and Kronenfeld had two apiece for the Yellow Jackets.
Saturday’s winners bracket game can be seen on ESPN3.
**Since the ACC Championship began last Wednesday in Greensboro, the Yellow Jackets are 5-0 and hitting .329 as a team, slugging .578 as a team, and pitching to a 3.14 ERA.
**Tech’s current six game-winning streak is its longest since winning five straight on two occasions early in the season.
**Tech is now 5-1 in last six NCAA Regional openers
**Reigning Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week and ACC Tournament MVP Jake Davies is hitting .450 (9-for-20) through five games of the postseason with five home runs, two doubles, 15 RBI and is slugging 1.300.
**The Jackets are now 64-55 all time, in this, the programs’ 28th NCAA Tournament appearance. Tech is now 52-40 in the Regional round, 16-14 as a No. 2-seed and 4-4 at McKethan Stadium in NCAA play.