March 4, 2014
THE FLATS – Brandon Stephens hit an RBI single up the middle, scoring Sean McLaughlin from third, and Georgia walked off with a 1-0 win over Georgia Tech Tuesday night at Foley Field in Athens.
It marks the first 1-0 decision in the Tech-Georgia series since the Jackets won in Atlanta on May 13, 1969.
“It was going to come down to whoever got a hit,” said head coach Danny Hall. “We had a guy in scoring position a couple times, and couldn’t bring him in. They obviously got the guy to third there late and Stephens got the big hit.”
After a lightning-fast game that cruised into the bottom of the ninth in a scoreless tie, Tech rookie reliever Tanner Shelton got a strikeout before issuing a one-out walk to Zack Bowers. Freshman Brandon Gold got the Jackets one out away from extra as he reached over the railing of the Tech dugout to snag a pop up from Daniel Nichols.
Tech turned to senior Dusty Isaacs, and on the first pitch he delivered, UGA pinch-runner McLaughlin broke for second. The throw from catcher Mitch Earnest sailed into center, and McLaughlin was able to take third. Tech argued for interference.
“He definitely hit something and my catcher’s generally not going to throw the ball into centerfield,” said Hall. “The umpire felt that their guy was in the box, and until I see a replay I’m not going to know. It’s a tough way to lose a game for sure.”
Stephens put the bat on the next pitch he saw from Isaacs and his single up the middle was the game-winner.
Smith, who extended his hitting streak to eight games, led off the third inning with a single to left but was stranded at second. The Jackets had runners at the corners in the fifth and couldn’t crack the scoreboard and came up empty again in the eighth as Smith led off the inning with a bunt single and was left at third.
Cruz, making his second career start, scattered five hits over five scoreless innings with one walk and two strikeouts. He triggered a 1-6-3 double play that ended the first inning, and freshman right fielder Ryan Peurifoy threw a laser from the wall in right to double off Hunter Cole in the fourth inning.
Jonathan Roberts tossed three scoreless innings in relief of Cruz, and Shelton was hung the tough-luck loss (0-1) as the unearned, game-winning run was charged to him.
Georgia’s Robert Tyler allowed just two hits over eight scoreless innings but did not factor in the decision. Jared Creek pitched the ninth, working around a two-out single from Gold, and earned the win (2-2).
“You never want to lose to Georgia, but we’ll get the chance to play them two more times,” said Hall. “We’ve got to move on. We open up in the conference this weekend and we’ve got to be ready to go.”
Tech’s ACC-opening series versus Wake Forest begins Friday at 4 p.m. at Russ Chandler Stadium on ESPN3. Saturday’s game is also set for 4 p.m., with Sunday’s finale at 1 p.m.