March 8, 2013
BLACKSBURG, Va. – Daniel Palka launched his first career grand slam and Buck Farmer gave No. 18 Georgia Tech another gem as the Yellow Jackets opened Atlantic Coast Conference play with an 11-1 victory over Virginia Tech Friday night at English Field. The Jackets have scored double-digit runs in each of their eight-game winning streak.
Zane Evans, who finished with four RBI, opened the scoring for Georgia Tech in the second inning with his ACC-leading sixth homer of the year for a 2-0 lead and Farmer and the bullpen would make it stand.
The Jackets improved to 13-1 overall, 1-0 in the ACC, with their eighth consecutive win. The Hokies slipped to 11-3, 0-1. The series continues Saturday at English Field at 2 p.m.
“Pete (Hughes) has a real good team over there, I think our team is in good shape so I’m happy to start the weekend with a win,” said head coach Danny Hall. “But it only counts as one game and we have to come out tomorrow and try and win the series. That’s always the goal whether you’re playing at home or playing on the road is win the series in ACC play.”
Farmer, who took a no-hitter in the sixth inning, improved to 3-0 by limiting the hard-hitting Hokies to just two hits in his six innings of work. The hosts scratched their lone run off Farmer in the sixth thanks to Gary Schneider’s one-out double down the right-field line that snapped the no-hit bid, and an RBI infield single from Chad Pinder with two outs.
It was the first earned run allowed by Farmer this season, ending his season-opening streak at 26.2 innings with an earned run. Farmer finished the night with seven strikeouts and three walks in six innings. He retired 10-consecutive between walks in the second and fifth innings.
“Buck’s going to give us a chance to win every night he goes out there,” said Hall. “I thought the two defensive plays by my freshman second baseman (Matt Gonzalez) just kept him out of trouble and then we continued to hit the baseball.”
Mott Hyde drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 3-0 in the fourth inning, but Hokie starter Eddie Campbell was able to minimize the damage to just that run after walking three consecutive Jackets in the frame.
But the visitors went right back to work the next inning as Kyle Wren got things started by beating out an infield single. Campbell walked Sam Dove and Brandon Thomas, and Palka jumped on the first pitch he saw and crushed the offering deep over the wall in right for his first career grand slam and a 7-0 lead.
It was the fourth home run of the season for the junior from Lyman, S.C., and the 28th of his career. Tech is now 21-7 in games when Palka homers.
With the streak of scoring double-digit runs in the balance, Tech poured on four more in the ninth to tie the school record of eight straight games in double-figures. Wren led off with a double, Thomas followed two batters later with an RBI double, Palka was hit by a pitch, Evans smoked a two-run double to the wall in right and Gonzalez capped the scoring with an RBI single.
Tech also scored eight-straight games in double figures during the 2005 season.
“We have a lot of different guys that can contribute right now,” said Hall. “Thomas is hot right now, Evans has been really hot, Palka hit that long grand slam, Wren got on a couple times. It is different guys that can do some damage and that’s the reason we’re scoring some runs.
Jonathan Roberts tossed a scoreless inning for the Jackets and rookie Sam Clay fired two scoreless frames with three strikeouts to slam the door on the win. Campbell was charged the loss for the Hokies, allowing five runs and seven hits in four innings. Five relievers pitched behind him.
Of Georgia Tech’s nine hits, six went for extra bases.