March 19, 2013
THE FLATS – Visiting Georgia Southern scored twice in the first inning and was able to keep the nation’s hottest offense at bay, defeating No. 11 Georgia Tech, 5-4, Tuesday night at Russ Chandler Stadium. The Yellow Jackets rallied late, and left the tying run at first in the ninth.
Two-time ACC Player of the Week Zane Evans launched his conference-leading ninth home run of the season – a solo blast to center – in the eighth inning to pull Tech within 5-3. In the ninth, Sam Dove smoked a two-out triple to the right-field corner to keep the inning alive and scored when Brandon Thomas beat out an infield single.
But GSU righty Justin Hess got a strikeout in the next at-bat to lock-up his second save and allow his team to avoid a season-sweep by the Jackets (17-3).
Matt McCall tossed four innings of relief for the Eagles (13-7), allowing three hits and a run to pick up the victory. T.D. Davis had two hits, including a two-run home run to left in the seventh inning, making the score 5-2 and providing much-needed insurance.
“We left some guys on tonight and felt like we made it easy for them to score by walking some guys,” said head coach Danny Hall. “Davis hit a big home run. Alex (Cruz) left the ball up and he did a good job to hit it out. But we had the bases loaded and had the chance to do some damage and didn’t.”
Thomas finished the night 3-for-5 with an RBI and extended his hitting streak to 12 games, including eight-consecutive multi-hit games. Evans’ hitting streak reached 13 games and freshman Matt Gonzalez stretched his hitting streak to an ACC-best 15 consecutive.
The Eagles sent eight batters to the plate in the first inning, getting an RBI single from Arthur Owens and a bases-loaded walk from Brent Pugh for a quick 2-0 lead. Tech came up empty after loading the bases in bottom of the first, but got an RBI double from freshman Dylan Dore, who was 2-for-3, to cut the margin in half in the second.
Chase Griffin’s RBI triple in the fourth gave the visitors their two-run advantage back, but the Jackets countered again in the fifth and loaded the bases before Zane Evans drew his second walk of the night to make it 3-2. That’s all the hosts got in the fifth, and Tech left nine runners stranded in the game.
Freshman Jared Jillson made his first career start, allowing two runs and five hits in two innings and absorbed the loss. Alex Cruz fired five innings of middle relief and set a career-high with seven strikeouts, while Jonathan Roberts worked two perfect innings with a pair of strikeouts.
The Jackets hit the road for the second time in ACC play this weekend with a big early-season series at No. 5 Florida State. The series between the leaders of the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions begins Friday at 6 p.m. and all three games can be seen on ESPN3.