May 12, 2003
ATLANTAGeorgia Tech, ranked 11th in the nation by Collegiate Baseball, faces in-state rival Georgia on Tuesday night at Turner Field. First pitch is set for 7 p.m., while all proceeds from the game will benefit the Brain Tumor Services of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Following Tuesday’s game, the Yellow Jackets will close out the regular season with a three-game series against NC State, May 15-17 at Russ Chandler Stadium.
Game Coverage: Tuesday’s game will be televised live by Fox Sports Net South. A radio broadcast will be available on WREK-Radio (91.1 FM in Atlanta). Live statistics and the radio broadcast will be available on the internet at www.ramblinwreck.com.
GEORGIA TECH UPDATE (37-13, 15-6 ACC)
Georgia Tech swept three games at Virginia last weekend to remain in second place in the ACC standings. Florida State currently leads the league with a 16-5 record, while Tech (15-6) sits just ahead of third place NC State (14-7). The Yellow Jackets finish the regular season at home against NC State this Thursday-Saturday. Florida State closes the regular season at Duke.
Georgia Tech snapped out of its worst stretch of the season – losing six of seven to Georgia, Clemson and Florida State (Apr. 23-May 4) – by winning four straight games against Georgia State and at Virginia last week.
Junior LHP Aaron Walker (2-1, 3.34) will start on Tuesday night against Georgia, although the Yellow Jackets plan to use several pitchers in the game in preparing for the NC State series this weekend.
GEORGIA UPDATE (28-23, 10-17 SEC)
Georgia is 28-23 overall and 10-17 in the SEC. The Bulldogs took two of three from Mississippi State over the weekend, and they have won seven of their last eight games against Kentucky, Tennessee Tech, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. As a team, Georgia is batting .312 and the Bulldogs have a 5.26 team ERA.
Junior LHP Paul Lubrano (4-3, 4.19) will start on Tuesday night at Turner Field.
QUOTING DANNY HALL
ON PLAYING AT TURNER FIELD:
“Our guys are really looking forward to the opportunity to play at Turner Field. It’s the field where they see the Braves play on all summer long. To get a chance to play over there is going to be a big thrill and that is a big reason that we decided to move one of the games over there. It’s our only chance to beat Georgia this year since the game last week was canceled.
“We have a lot to look forward to this week. Not only is it a chance to play in Turner Field and it’s our last game against Georgia, but we need to have a good week to try to maybe lock down one of those top eight National Seeds.”
“They are a very good team. They have won seven of eight, they play in a great conference, and I think that they are playing their best baseball of the year right now. They have played good of late, and they played great against us at Russ Chandler Stadium. We will need to be at our best to have a chance to win.”
ON THE PITCHING STAFF LAST WEEKEND AT VIRGINIA:
“It was a great series for us as a team. Overall, our pitching was outstanding. To only give up two runs in a weekend series is about as good as it can get. Virginia is a very good team, and ourselves and Florida State are the only teams in the ACC that have been able to sweep them this season. That speaks well for their program. It was a weekend that we needed to play well, and it solidified ourselves in second place just behind Florida State. Hopefully we can keep the pressure on them this weekend.”
ON THE NC STATE SERIES THIS WEEKEND:
“NC State has had a great year. They have a veteran team of position players, and they have had some young pitchers really step up for them this year. They are ranked high nationally and they have played well against everybody in our league. We know that if we win the series then we will for sure be in second place and still have a chance to finish in first or tie with Florida State.”
GEORGIA TECH VS. GEORGIA
GEORGIA LEADS, 182-139-2
Georgia leads Georgia Tech, 182-139-2, in a series that dates to 1898. The Yellow Jackets hold an 80-65-1 advantage in games played in Atlanta, while the Bulldogs hold a 48-106 edge in Athens. The series is tied, 11-11-1, in games played at neutral locations. Tuesday’s game at Turner Field will be the first neutral site game in the series since a 1978 meeting in Macon, a span of 80 games.
Georgia won the first meeting of the 2003 season, an 8-4 decision at Russ Chandler Stadium on Apr. 23. The May 7 game in Athens was canceled due to a conflict in Georgia’s final exam schedule.
The Yellow Jackets won five of six meetings between the two schools in 2002, including the final five games of the year. Tech won three of four during the regular season and sweeping a pair of games in the NCAA Atlanta Regional.
Tech has had the upper hand in the series in recent years, posting a 37-21 record against Georgia since 1988. The Yellow Jackets either won or split the annual regular season series every year from 1988-2000 until the Bulldogs took four of five games in 2001.
Georgia Tech is 24-14 against Georgia under head coach Danny Hall.
GEORGIA TECH’S MAJOR LEAGUE STADIUM HISTORY:
Georgia Tech has an all-time record of 3-7 in games played at Major League ballparks. Tech went 0-3 at the former Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, and has a 3-4 record at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis. The Yellow Jackets played three exhibition games against the Atlanta Braves at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in 1977-79, dropping all three contests. Tech has played in a round-robin tournament at the Metrodome on two occasions, posting an 0-4 mark in the 1989 Pillsbury Classic and a 3-0 record in the 1993 Oscar Mayer Classic.
STARTING PITCHER NOTES
Tuesday: AARON WALKER (LHP) 2-1, 3.34 ERA
Junior LHP Aaron Walker will get the call on Tuesday night at Turner Field in what will be his third start of 2003 and his 20th appearance of the season. Walker, who has never started a game in his collegiate career prior to this season, has been used primarily as Tech’s top lefty in the bullpen.
Walker made his first career start on Mar. 15 against Kent State, and he earned a win after working a career-long 5.1 innings and allowing just one run on five hits. He lasted just 1.2 innings in his second start on Apr. 5 at North Carolina, allowing four runs (one earned run) on three hits.
For his career, Walker is 3-2 with a 4.69 ERA in 53 appearances spanning 71.0 innings.
PITCHING STAFF SHINES AT VIRGINIA
Prior to weekend series against Clemson (Apr. 25-27) and Florida State (May 2-4), Georgia Tech won eight of nine games from North Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest behind strong performances from the starting rotation of LHP Kyle Bakker and RHP’s Chris Goodman and Micah Owings. Over that nine game stretch, the starting rotation went a combined 7-0 with a 2.53 ERA in eight starts. In the Yellow Jackets’ three game sweep of Wake Forest, the staff posted a 2.00 ERA and held the Deacon bats to a .214 team average.
The Tech staff has had its hot streak come to an end against Clemson and Florida State, allowing 45 earned runs in 53.2 innings over those six games (7.55 ERA). More telling, Tech pitchers walked 28 batters in the six games (4.7 BB per 9 IP) after walking just 16 batters in nine games against UNC, Duke and Wake Forest (1.8 BB per 9 IP).
The Tech staff bounced back in a big way last weekend at Virginia, holding the Cavaliers to just two runs in three games, including posting shutouts in games one and three of the series. For the weekend, the Tech staff held Virginia to a .161 batting average, allowing just one extra base hit and four walks in three games while striking out 26 batters.
BEST PITCHING WEEKEND IN SCHOOL HISTORY
Georgia Tech held Virginia to just two runs in last weekend’s three-game Atlantic Coast Conference series, marking the school’s best pitching performance in an ACC series since the conference adopted the current three-game format for the 1990 season. Tech’s previous best effort against an ACC opponent was a 1999 series against Maryland when the Yellow Jackets held the Terrapins to four runs.
The two runs marked the fewest runs allowed in a three-game weekend series in school history (against all opponents), while it marked the best three-game stretch since Feb. 25-Mar. 3, 1990, when the Yellow Jackets held Eastern Kentucky (0 runs), UNC Asheville (0 runs) and Rutgers (1 run) to one run over three games.
BLACKWOOD STEPS IN & GIVES THE OFFENSE A BOOST
A key reserve and part time starter as a freshman this season, Steven Blackwood has stepped into the starting lineup at center field over the last five games and provided a lift to the Tech offense. Since taking over the center field job in the final game of the Florida State series (May 4), Balckwood is batting .375 with nine RBI in five games. More impressively, he has drawn five walks and been hit by a pitch to boast an impressive .545 on base percentage.
Last week, Blackwood quickly established himself as a clutch player. On Tuesday against Georgia State he broke open a 3-3 game with a grand slam in the eighth inning. On Saturday at Virginia, Blackwood broke a 2-2 tie with a three-run double in the eighth inning. In Tech’s 1-0 win over Virginia on Sunday, Blackwood put the ball in play that went behind the second base bag and allowed Eric Patterson to score the game’s only run.
VERSUS THE STATE OF GEORGIA
Georgia Tech is 8-2 against teams from the state of Georgia in 2003, and Tech posted a 13-1 mark against its in-state rivals during the 2002 season. Tech is 3-1 against Georgia Southern, 2-0 against Mercer and Georgia State, 1-0 against Armstrong Atlantic State, and 0-1 against Georgia this year.
Since 1999, Georgia Tech owns a 50-10 (.833) record against its in-state foes. The Yellow Jackets are 92-27 (.773) against teams from Georgia in 10 years under head coach Danny Hall.
Georgia Tech is currently in second place in the ACC standings with a 15-6 record, and the Yellow Jackets have swept four of seven ACC oppoents this season – Maryland, Duke, Wake Forest and Virginia. Tech set a school record for most sweeps in 1997 when the Yellow Jackets swept five of eight series en route to a 19-4 ACC record and a first place finish. Tech swept four of eight series in 1995 (16-8 final record) and 2000 (18-6).