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Fifth-Seeded Tech Baseball Opens ACC Tournament Against Fourth-Seeded Clemson

May 20, 2002

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ATLANTA–Georgia Tech, the fifth seed for the 2002 Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, faces fourth-seeded Clemson on Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. at Florida Power Park in St. Petersburg, Fla. The top five teams in the ACC – Florida State, Wake Forest, North Carolina, Clemson and Georgia Tech – are all ranked in the top 10 in the nation by various baseball publications, and just three games in the loss column separated first place from fifth place.

The ACC Tournament returns to St. Petersburg for the second time in league history, having previously been played there in 1997 when Florida State claimed the ACC championship. Tuesday’s first round matchup featured #8 seed Maryland and #9 seed Duke at 7 p.m., while the other Wednesday matchups include #1 seed Florida State versus Maryland or Duke at 1:30 p.m., #2 Wake Forest against #7 NC State at 5 p.m., and #3 North Carolina versus #6 Virginia at 8:30 p.m.

Live radio broadcasts for all of Georgia Tech’s games in the ACC Tournament will be available on WREK-Radio (91.1 FM in Atlanta) and on the internet at www.ramblinwreck.com, while live scoring and boxscores for all games of the tournament are available at www.theacc.com.

The Yellow Jackets enter the tournament at 44-12 overall and 14-9 in the Atlantic Coast Conference after taking two of three games from North Carolina last weekend. Tech has won each of its last four weekend series, winning two of three from Virginia, Clemson, Miami and North Carolina to close out the regular season.

The Tech offense is led by shortstop Victor Mencoal, who leads the squad in batting (.382), hits (87) and doubles (18). Outfielder Jeremy Slayden leads the team with 16 home runs, while leadoff hitter Eric Patterson leads the team in on base percentage (.464), stolen bases (33) and runs scored (62). As a team, Tech is batting .332 and averaging 8.5 runs per game.

The Tech pitching corps is led by a duo of sophomores in southpaw Kyle Bakker (10-2, 3.38 ERA) and righty Brian Burks (9-5, 3.52) in the starting rotation, and junior righty Jeff Watchko (10-1, 3.25) in the bullpen.

ACC TOURNAMENT HISTORY

Georgia Tech is playing in its 23rd ACC Tournament, and the Yellow Jackets have won five conference championships (1985, 1986, 1987, 1988 and 2000) since joining the league for the 1980 season. Overall, the Yellow Jackets own a 46-35 record in 22 previous tournament appearances, including a 2-2 mark last season.

Tech won its first championship under head coach Danny Hall in 2000, posting a perfect 5-0 record in its march to the championship. Under Hall, Tech is 15-14 in ACC Tournament play.

In the only previous ACC Tournament in St. Petersburg, Fla., in 1997, Tech posted a 1-2 mark as the tournament’s No. 1 seed.

SERIES VERSUS CLEMSON

Georgia Tech and Clemson have met on 171 occasions since the 1902 season, and not much has been settled as the all-time series is deadlocked at 84-84-3. The Yellow Jackets won two of three meetings with the Tigers three weeks ago in Atlanta, dropping the first game 9-12, before rally for 15-6 and 11-0 wins in the final two games of the series (see stats from that series at the back of this packet). Under Danny Hall, Tech is 14-18 against Clemson.

Tech and Clemson have met 17 times in ACC Tournament play, and the Tigers lead that series 10-7. The most recent meeting between the two schools in tournament play came in the championship game of the 2000 event in Fort Mill, S.C., when the Yellow Jackets claimed an 8-4 win to capture the title. Tech has won three straight game from Clemson in the ACC Tournament dating back to 1998.

ON THE HILL . . .

*As a staff, Georgia Tech’s starting pitchers are a collective 33-7 with a 3.62 ERA in 56 games this season, while walking just 1.8 batters per nine innings. Tech starting pitchers are holding opponents to a .267 batting average.

* Georgia Tech’s pitching rotation for the ACC Tournament is TBA.

SHORT HOPS

* Through 56 games, head coach Danny Hall has used 50 different starting lineups.

* Tech is currently tied for third in the ACC in team ERA (4.13), less than two tenths of a run behind leader Florida State (3.95). The Yellow Jackets have never led the conference in that category since joining the ACC for the 1980 season.

* Tech is 31-4 at the new Russ Chandler Stadium in 2002, outscoring its opponents 313-157.

* Tech’s 14-1 mark to start the season was its best since opening the 1997 season with a 15-1 record. The school record for most wins with only one loss came in 1992 when the Yellow Jackets opened 24-1.

* After posting a 3-7 record in one-run games in 2001, Tech is 9-3 in games decided by one run and 18-4 in games decided by three runs or less in 2002.

* The Yellow Jackets are a perfect 5-0 in extra inning games this season and have won 10 straight extra inning games dating back to 1997.

* New pitching coach Bobby Moranda has stressed the importance of throwing strikes. Those efforts have been displayed this season where Tech pitchers have walked 140 batters in 500.2 innings (2.5 per 9 IP).

* Four freshmen – Eric Patterson (2B), Brandon Boggs (CF), Clifton Remole (1B), and Jeremy Slayden (DH) – were in the starting lineup on opening day. Additionally, Mike Nickeas (C, 1B, 3B), Jake Hall (3B), and Garrett Groce (OF) have all started at least one game in 2002, raising the total number of freshmen who have started to seven. A total of 15 freshmen have seen game action this season.

OFFENSE HEATS UP

As the weather has warmed up during the month of May, so has the Georgia Tech offense. In 11 games in May, Georgia Tech is batting .378 as a team (156-for-413) and has scored 111 runs (10.1 per game). Those numbers are made even more impressive given that seven of those 11 games have come against the No. 1 ranked team in the country (Clemson), the defending national champions (Miami) and a College World Series participant from last year (Georgia).

VERSUS THE STATE OF GEORGIA

Georgia Tech owns an 11-1 mark against its in-state rivals this season. Tech’s lone loss came at Georgia on Mar. 26. The Yellow Jackets are 4-0 against Georgia Southern, 2-0 against both Mercer and Georgia State, and 3-1 against Georgia.

MORE ON BAKKER

Kyle Bakker posted a 9-0 record in his first 10 starts in 2002 before suffering his first loss at Florida State despite a complete-game effort (Tech lost 4-3). Listed below are the best records by a Tech pitcher to start a season:

Best Record By Georgia Tech Pitchers to Start a Season        Player  Year    Record  Finished1.      Scott Erwin     1988    13-0    13-02.      Brad Rigby      1993    11-0    13-13.      L.J. Yankosky   1998    10-0    11-14.      Mike Schisler   1973    9-0     9-0        Kris Wilson     1997    9-0     12-2        Kyle Bakker   2002    9-0

SECOND LONGEST HOME WIN STREAK

Georgia Tech had its 27-game home winning streak snapped on Apr. 26 against Virginia in what was the second longest such streak in school history. The Yellow Jackets won their first 22 games in the new Russ Chandler Stadium this season and did not lose at home from April 28, 2001 through April 26, 2002.

Listed below are Tech’s best home winning streaks:

Georgia Tech HOME WIN STREAKS1.      29 games        1989-902.      27 games        2001-20023.      23 games        1990-914.      21 games        1992

SECOND BEST RECORD AFTER 56 GAMES

Georgia Tech owns a 44-12 record after 56 games, tied for the second best record in school history through that number of games. Listed below are Tech’s best records through 56 games:

Best Georgia Tech RECORDS AFTER 56 GAMES        Record  Year1.      45-11   1993        45-11   19873.      44-12   1997        44-12   20025.      43-13   1992        43-13   19947.      42-14   2000Note: Tech went 31-6 for the entire 1971 season.

BAKKER, MURTON & PATTERSON INVITED TO TEAM USA TRIALS

Georgia Tech pitcher Kyle Bakker, outfielder Matt Murton and second baseman Eric Patterson were among 19 collegiate players invited to participate in the 2002 USA Baseball National Team Trials to be held in Tucson, Ariz., June 18-23. The USA National Team will be selected from a pool of approximately 35-40 players, of which an additional 16-21 have yet to be determined. Louisville’s Lelo Prado will serve as the head coach for Team USA. He will be assisted by Terry Alexander of Jacksonville, Sunny Golloway of Oral Roberts, and Terry Rupp of Maryland. The official team roster will be determined and announced on June 24.

SPEED ON THE BASES

With the loss of many of the top power hitters from last year’s team, Georgia Tech has relied more on speed this season. The Yellow Jackets were a perfect 11-for-11 in the stolen base department in the first two games of the season at Georgia Southern, and Tech now stands at 113-for-147 (76.9%) for the season. Tech stole just 68 bases during the entire 2002 season.

The Yellow Jackets are stealing an average of 2.02 bases per game this spring. The Tech record for stolen bases per game is 2.21, which was established in 1987 when the Jackets stole a school-record 144 bases.

Tech has stolen 100 bases as a team for the 10th time in school history. The 113 steals currently ranks as the fifth highest single season total in Tech history.

WINNING THE CLOSE ONES

One of the main reasons for Georgia Tech’s early exit from the NCAA Tournament last year was the struggles of the Yellow Jackets in close games. Tech posted just a 3-7 mark in one-run games and a 10-12 record in games decided by three runs or less during the 2001 season. This year, Tech is 9-3 in one-run games and 18-4 in games decided by three runs or less. The Yellow Jackets are 5-0 in extra inning games this season.

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