June 8, 2002
ATLANTA – Eric Patterson drove in five runs on five hits to back the strong pitching of Chris Goodman, and Georgia Tech defeated Florida Atlantic, 11-5, Saturday night at Russ Chandler Stadium to sweep the NCAA Atlanta Super Regional and advance to the College World Series.
The Yellow Jackets (51-14) have reached the College World Series for the second time in their history and first since 1994, and will meet the winner of the South Carolina-Miami Super Regional in the first round of the CWS either Friday or Saturday in Omaha, Neb. FAU ended its season at 46-21.
“Just an awesome feeling,” said Tech head coach Danny Hall, who is guiding his second Tech team to Omaha. Tech reached the World Series in his first season at the helm of the Yellow Jackets eight years ago. “I knew we had a very good core of upperclassmen. I think people failed to realize just how good our upperclassmen are. The bottom line is, these guys played hard every day, and they found a different way to win every time they were challenged.
“There are a lot of great college baseball teams out there, and to get to Omaha is not an easy road at all. I do want to say that Florida Atlantic is a great club. To see a team like that get to the Final 16 says a lot about their players and coaches. They played great to get here, but I think that’s how well we played these two games.”
Patterson, a freshman second baseman and Tech’s only first-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference selection this year, entered the Super Regional hitless in his last six games, but went 7-for-11 and scored five runs in two games this weekend. He was 5-for-6 Saturday night — he doubled and scored in the first, singled and scored in the third, tripled in two runs in the fourth, singled in two runs in the fifth and drove in his fifth run with the single in the ninth.
“I knew he was going to have a good tournament because he swung the bat better during the week,” said Hall. “I think Eric may have gotten a little tired at the end of the season, but you could tell during batting practice that he got his swing back.”
Senior third baseman Matthew Boggs was nearly the equal of Patterson Saturday night, going 5-for-5, scoring three runs and driving in two. Tyler Parker had two hits and drove in two runs for the Yellow Jackets.
Tech surged to an 8-0 lead before the Owls got on the board, scoring three in the third, two in the fourth and two in the fifth. It was more than enough cushion for Goodman (8-1), who allowed just four hits and one unearned run through seven innings. He walked two and struck out three in winning his second post-season game. Goodman had defeated Georgia in the NCAA regional a week ago.
“We couldn’t have pitched any better, from a starting standpoint, than we’ve pitched in all five NCAA games,” said Hall. “Chris Goodman tonight was outstanding. He didn’t give them anything to get going, and it’s been that way for all five post-season games.”
Florida Atlantic scratched for its first run in the fifth on singles by Matt Pali and Derek Hutton and a Tech error, but the Jackets added three insurance runs in the ninth to make the score 11-1 and help them withstand a grand slam by Jeff Fiorentino in the bottom of the ninth.
Chris Pillsbury (10-3) was tagged with the loss after giving up six runs on six hits in just 3 2/3 innings.
“The last two days, they’ve been better than anybody we’ve seen all year,” said FAU coach Kevin Cooney. “They brought good arms out of the bullpen, their starting pitching was excellent. The pitcher [Goodman] today was outstanding. You’ve got to look at teams over the course of the season, but in this two-game series, Georgia Tech is the best team I’ve seen this year.”
The win was Tech’s 51st of the season, tying the school record set in 1987. Tech has won 50 games on two other occasions.