May 3, 2014
THE FLATS – Matt Gonzalez delivered a walk-off RBI single in the 11th inning and Dusty Isaacs pitched the final five innings in relief as Georgia Tech won a Friday night slugfest with Virginia Tech, 7-6, at Russ Chandler Stadium.
The victory improved the Yellow Jackets to 27-19 overall and 13-12 in the ACC, while the Hokies slipped to 18-26-1, 7-18. Tech is 4-4 in extra innings this season and one shy of tying the school record for most extra-inning games in a season (nine in 1986).
Isaacs matched his career-high with eight strikeouts but the game looked in doubt when Brendon Hayden launched a go-ahead solo home run to right field in the ninth to give Virginia Tech its first lead at 6-5.
“We’ve had a tough stretch being on the road the last two weekends and then coming off final exams, and I know my guys are a little mentality exhausted and probably a little physically drained,” said head coach Danny Hall. “But we hung in there, kept battling and found a way to win it in the end.”
Isaacs was quickly off the hook for the loss as back-to-back one-out singles from Mott Hyde and Daniel Spingola in the bottom of the ninth gave the Jackets life. Two batters later, Thomas Smith hammered a game-tying single up the middle with two outs to force extras.
Arden Pabst’s single to left got Tech’s half of the 11th started and Hyde’s bunt moved him to scoring position. An infield single from Spingola put runners at the corners for Gonzalez, who recorded his first career walk-off hit by blasting an RBI single to the right-field gap.
“Pabst has a great at-bat to start the inning and Mott put a great bunt down,” said Hall. “The shortstop made a great play on Spingola’s ball that I thought was going up the middle, and then Gonzo didn’t wait around and jumped on the first pitch he saw.”
Isaacs, who improved to 6-5 with the victory, entered the game in the seventh after VT loaded the bases with no outs and a walk to Sean Keselica tied the game at 5-5.
But the senior fanned Kyle Wernicki for the first out and dodged a bullet as Logan Bible was unsuccessful in a squeeze-bunt attempt and the potential go-ahead run was tagged by Pabst at the plate for the second out. Isaacs finished off Bible with a strikeout to end the threat.
“Dusty was outstanding,” said Hall. “We put him in some tough spots all the time and that’s why we have him where he’s at. We need a guy we can count on in those tough spots and Dusty’s definitely that guy.”
Spingola had four of the Yellow Jackets’ 17 hits and drove in a pair of runs. Smith finished the night 3-for-4 with two runs and two walks. Gonzalez, Hyde, Pabst and Brandon Gold each had two hits.
The hosts jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the fourth thanks to a two-run single from Spingola to left. After a run from the Hokies in the third, Tech came right back in the bottom half with Gold’s sac fly and an RBI single from Pabst for a 4-1 cushion.
Three unearned runs in the sixth allowed VT to tie the game and would end the night for starter Josh Heddinger, who yielded eight hits and four runs (one earned) but did not factor in the decision.
The Jackets regained a one-run advantage in the home half of the sixth with A.J. Murray’s RBI single that scored Smith, who doubled. The Hokies tied it again in the seventh, before Isaacs snuffed out the threat.
Aaron McGarity was hung the loss (0-4), allowing three hits and a run in 1.1 innings of relief. Hayden had three hits for the Hokies.
The series continues Saturday at Russ Chandler Stadium at 1 p.m.