May 10, 2013
THE FLATS – Mott Hyde smashed a walk-off home run to left field in the ninth inning, and Georgia Tech stunned No. 2 North Carolina, 5-4, Friday night in the opener of a three-game ACC series at Russ Chandler Stadium. Zane Evans was 4-for-4 with a two-run home run to pace the 10-hit attack.
The junior shortstop took a 3-1 offering from UNC starter Kent Emanuel with one out in the bottom of the ninth and launched it over the netting beyond the wall in left to lift the Yellow Jackets (31-19, 13-12) to their third walk-off win this season.
“I knew as soon as he hit it it was a home run,” said head coach Danny Hall. “He’s been swinging the bat better for sure. That’s a big hit for him and it gave us a big lift on a Friday night.”
The Calhoun, Ga. native, Hyde, hit his second homer this season, the 13th of his career and picked up his first career walk-off hit.
“Right before the at-bat, Coach (Bryan) Prince told me `you’re gonna see a change-up, so go up there and win the game,'” said Hyde. “He ended up coming in with a fastball, and I just got the bat on the ball and was trying to get on base somehow. This is a win we needed.”
Daniel Palka fired two perfect innings of relief with two strikeouts to pick up his first career win. He and starter Buck Farmer combined to retire the final 11 Tar Heels in order over the final four innings. Farmer fanned six in seven innings and stayed unbeaten in three career starts versus UNC (2-0).
“I credit them because Farmer didn’t have his best stuff,” said Hall. “He didn’t locate his fastball like he would like, but to his credit he just kept hanging in there. And I can’t say enough about Palka. He did a tremendous job and gave us a chance to win it in the ninth.”
North Carolina (44-5, 19-4) lost for just the second time on the road, and denied Emanuel, who pitched his ACC-leading fourth complete game, his first career win over the Jackets.
Thomas Smith and Kyle Wren hit back-to-back triples to jump start a four-run bottom of the third inning that gave the Jackets their first lead at 4-3. Smith smoked his three-bagger over the head of center fielder Chaz Frank to score Matt Gonzalez, who led off the inning with a single, and Wren followed with a stand-up RBI triple that found the deep right-field corner.
Two batters later, Evans sent the first pitch he saw from Emanuel deep to left and his two-run blast made it 4-3. Evans finished the night 4-for-4 and extended his hitting streak to 12 games. The junior catcher, who went 6-for-6 two weeks ago in the finale at Clemson, upped his average to .376 overall and a team-best .419 in ACC play.
Parks Jordan put the visitors on the board in the second inning with his first home run this season — a two-run blast to right. Cody Stubbs’ RBI groundout extended the advantage to 3-0 in the third.
Both Emanuel and Farmer settled in after the offenses lit up the scoreboard with seven runs on 10 hits over the first three innings. The 4-3 game was tied up in the fifth when Colin Moran blasted a solo shot to dead center field.
Emanuel slipped to 9-2 after going the distance (8.1 innings) with 10 hits, five runs, one walk and six strikeouts. Frank and Jordan each had two hits for the Heels.
The series continues Saturday night at 6 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN3.