May 15, 2013
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech led 7-0 after four innings, Georgia rallied over the middle innings to take command, the Yellow Jackets struck for five in the eighth to tie the game at 13-13 and force extras but the Bulldogs scored in the 11th and beat Tech, 14-13, Tuesday night in a marathon game at Russ Chandler Stadium.
Tech (32-21), which beat No. 1 North Carolina, 9-8, in an 11-inning, four-hour and 30-minute thriller to win the series Sunday, was unable to make it three-straight walk-off victories. Georgia claimed the series win over the Jackets – its first since 2008.
A crowd of 3,003 witnessed Tuesday’s four-hour and 26-minute contest that ended after midnight and featured 33 hits.
Jared Walsh’s sacrifice fly to score Curt Powell proved to be the difference, and Georgia held off the Jackets in the bottom of the 11th after Kyle Wren doubled with one out, swiped second and was left stranded at third.
Reliever Mike Mancuso (1-1) – the sixth Georgia pitcher to see action – fired 2.2 innings of scoreless relief with five strikeouts, including the final two, to seal the victory for the Bulldogs, who improved to 19-31.
Sam Dove and Wren each had three hits for the Jackets, and Dove drove in three runs. Dove ripped a two-RBI single in the first, had run-scoring single during the Jackets’ five eighth-inning, and nearly ended the game in the ninth with two outs and runners at first and second. But his laser was snagged at by Powell, who stepped on third for the force out.
Daniel Palka, who tossed a career-long 3.1 innings in relief, was on the hook for the tough-luck loss. The run scored by Powell was the first earned run allowed in his pitching career, which spans 12.1 innings and 10 appearances — half of the appearances coming in the last 10 days.
Tech starter Josh Heddinger was in command and had a 7-0 lead with two outs in the fifth. That’s when what would have been an inning-ending pop up from Zack Bowers was lost in the lights by the right side of Tech’s infield. Brett DeLoach scored on the RBI single from Bowers that dropped to the fair side of the first-base bag and opened the gates for a four-run inning that put the visitors back in the game. Nelson Ward dealt the big blow in the fifth, with a three-run home run to right that made it 7-4.
Tech got a run back in the bottom half on Earnest’s RBI double to left, but the Bulldogs went right back to work in the sixth with three runs to pull within 8-7. They tied it at 8-8 in the seventh thanks to Walsh’s RBI double.
Walsh finished the game with two hits and drove in four runs. Hunter Cole homered and finished with three hits.
Dove’s two-out, two-RBI single put Tech on the board in the first, and the Jackets made some more two-out noise in the second thanks to RBI singles from Wren, Palka and Evans for a 5-0 lead. Tech chased Georgia starter Bryan Benzor with no outs in the third, and the lead grew to 7-0 when Earnest singled to right, scoring two.
Tech, which trailed 7-1 to North Carolina Sunday and eventually needed three runs in the ninth to force extra innings, used some late-game magic again versus Georgia. After the Bulldogs scored five times in the top of the eighth to break the 8-8 deadlock, Tech answered with five of its own.
Dove’s RBI single got the eighth inning started, Hyde followed later with a bases-loaded walk and Smith cleared them to knot the game at 13-13 when a fly-ball off his bat was dropped by center fielder Justin Bryan.
The 27 combined runs is the most scored in a Tech-Georgia game since the Yellow Jackets’ 25-6 win in Athens in 2010. Center fielder Brandon Thomas tied a school record for an outfielder by recording nine putouts in the game. Scott Jordan set the record originally with nine versus Wake Forest in 1985.
Tech, which has already clinched a spot in the ACC Tournament, heads to Miami to close out the regular season. The three-game series begins Thursday night in Coral Gables and all three games can be seen on CSS and ESPN3.