March 17, 2015
TECH STARTERS: Spingola/CF, Innis/LF, Johnson/RF, Murray/DH, Gonzalez/3B, Smith/1B , Bailey/2B, Justus/SS, Pabst/C, Parr/SP.
KSU STARTERS: Williams/2B, Simmons/SS, Erwin/LF, Morgan/C, Bennett/DH, Liquori/RF, Motley/CF, McGowan/1B, Howell/3B, Moore/SP.
No. 21 Georgia Tech tied the game with two in the ninth, struck for the lead in the 11th and held off a Kennesaw State rally to beat the Owls, 7-6, Tuesday night at Stillwell Stadium in Kennewsaw, Ga.
Tech staged a ninth-inning comeback for the third time this season and won for the 11th time in 13 games.
The victory improved Tech to 15-5 while KSU, which reached the Super Regional last year, slipped to 9-9.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
Kel Johnson ripped a game-tying, two-out single to left that tied the game at 5-5 in the ninth, one batter after Keenan Innis’ RBI grounder made 5-4.
A walk to Grant Wruble and a bunt single from Daniel Spingola got the 11th started and Wruble sprinted home from third when Innis’ bunt attempt was air-mailed by the pitcher to third base.
A sac fly from Matt Gonzalez tacked on much-needed insurance in the 11th to make it 7-5.
The Owls loaded the bases in the 11th with three straight one-out singles before Zac Ryan worked a pair of ground balls to end it.
Ryan tossed four strong innings of relief to earn the win (4-0) as he fanned five.
A.J. Murray’s RBI double put Tech on the board in the first and Murray would eventually score on an error for a 2-0 lead.
The Owls scored twice in the third and twice in the sixth to grab their first lead.
Connor Justus led off the seventh with a double and eventually scored to make it 4-3, but the Owls regained their two-run lead in the eighth.
The tough-luck loss fell to Chris Erwin, who allowed Tech’s final four runs (one earned) and slipped to 0-2
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE:
It is the third time this year Tech rallied when trailing in the ninth. The previous two resulted in wins in regulation – against FIU and Albany.
The game was the third extra-inning affair for the Jackets this year (2-1), while the Owls played their first (0-1).
Kennesaw State entered the game having out-scored the opposition 26-9 over the first two innings this season, but Tech had the upperhand Tuesday night with two runs in the first.
Innis stretched his hitting streak to four games with a double in the fifth.
Gonzalez’s hitting streak reached eight games as he singled in the sixth and Spingola’s hit streak was also extended to eight games with his bunt single in the 11th.
Tech entered the game out-scoring the opponents 32-8 over the final two innings plus extra innings, and added to that tonight with two runs in the ninth and two more in the 11th.
Ryan matched his career-high of four innings and set a career-high with five strikeouts.
Johnson had two of Tech’s seven hits.
Kennesaw State committed three errors, which led to four unearned runs.
Tech improved to 10-4 all-time when playing on St. Patrick’s Day.
“I thought we had some pretty good swings on (Kennesaw State starting pitcher AJ) Moore, but after the first inning he did a nice job of keeping us off-balance and made some pitches on us. We let them get the lead, but Kel had a huge two-out hit to tie it. Zac did a great job out there to give us a chance, and I’m really proud of Grant (Wruble). He caught the last couple innings for us and then has a great at-bat to draw a walk and get us started in the 11th and we put a couple bunts down to get the lead.”
— Head Coach Danny Hall
The Yellow Jackets return home this weekend to host North Carolina in a key early-season ACC series at Russ Chandler Stadium. Friday’s first pitch is set for 7 p.m. and all three games will air on ESPN3.