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Jackets Conclude Road Swing Tuesday at Mercer

April 21, 2008

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech wraps up its five-game road swing Tuesday in Macon when the Yellow Jackets square off with the Mercer Bears at 6 p.m. at Claude Smith Field. The Yellow Jackets (28-12) avoided a series sweep at Maryland over the weekend with a 9-6, five-inning win Sunday afternoon, while Mercer (18-24) is coming off a 2-1 series victory over Kennesaw State last time out.

The Yellow Jacket offense has come alive during the road swing, batting .367 and averaging 10.25 runs in four games against Georgia Southern and Maryland to raise their season average to .297. The Tech pitching corps is holding opponents to a .267 batting average, as eight different pitchers have earned wins in 2008.

Pitching Matchup (Georgia Tech vs. Mercer)
Tuesday: RHP Deck McGuire (6-0, 3.28) vs. TBA

Georgia Tech’s offense is led by junior DH/RF Luke Murton (.378, 8 HR, 33 RBI, 3 SB), redshirt junior RF Charlie Blackmon (.366-4-27-16), freshman CF Jeff Rowland (.344-2-15-14), and freshman SS Derek Dietrich (.336-11-41-3). Senior 3B Brad Feltes has also been a big offensive threat, with 10 home runs and a team-high 44 RBI in 2008.

Game Coverage: Live video coverage for Tuesday’s game will be available on ASun.tv (similar to ACC Select), while the contest can also be heard on WREK Radio (91.1 FM in Atlanta/www.wrek.org). Live stats for all Georgia Tech baseball games are available at Ramblinwreck.com.

The Teams of Late

Georgia Tech Zach Von Tersch worked out of jam in the fifth inning in the series finale at Maryland to make the game official before rain and lightning cancelled the remainder of the contest, resulting in a 9-6 win for the Yellow Jackets. Tech mounted a 9-0 lead through three-and-a-half innings and held on through five to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Terrapins after Maryland earned comeback wins against the Jackets both Friday and Saturday. Tech did earn two wins on the week, and the offense was outstanding, hitting at a .367 clip. Juniors Luke Murton and Charlie Blackmon, as well as freshman Jeff Rowland, all hit over .500 on the week, and the Yellow Jackets hit nine home runs (three of which were grand slams) and 16 doubles in the four games against Georgia Southern and Maryland. Freshman weekday starter Deck McGuire is pacing the team with six wins this season, while sophomore Zach Von Tersch has notched five wins as Tech’s Sunday starter. Closer Chris Hicks has collected a team-best eight saves for the Yellow Jackets and relievers Brad Rulon and Andrew Robinson have combined for 29 scoreless appearances in relief this season.

Mercer – The Bears’ offense is led by Mike Armstrong, hitting .348 with five home runs and 30 RBI in 2008, while four players are batting .342 this season (Billy Shaughnessy, Joe Winker, John Dortch and Matt Crawford). Mercer earned a pair of victories at Kennesaw State over the weekend to win the Atlantic Sun series and currently holds a 12-12 conference record. The pitching staff, led by Dan April (2-3, 2.47 ERA) his holding opponents to a .293 batting average. Eight different pitchers have earned starts for the Bears this season, while four different players have picked up saves in 2008.

Tech vs. the Opponent (Tech leads, 98-49)

Georgia Tech and Mercer will be meeting for the 148th time in history, and the second time this season. Prior to a game against the Bears on April 19 of this season, the Jackets hadn’t faced Mercer since the 2003 season. Tech holds a 40-27 record against the Bears in games played in Macon, and is currently riding an 12-game winning streak against Mercer. Tech has lost to Mercer just three times in 20 meetings under head coach Danny Hall and is 98-49 all-time against the Bears.

Georgia Tech vs. In-State Opponents

Georgia Tech went 5-6 against teams from the state of Georgia in 2007 but has won nine games against Georgia Southern, Kennesaw State, Georgia State, Mercer and Georgia to start 9-0 against state of Georgia opponents this season. Tech still has three games remaining on its schedule against Georgia teams this season, including this week’s game at Mercer to wrap up their current five-game road swing.

Since 1999, the Yellow Jackets own an 86-26 (.768) record against its in-state foes. In 15 years under head coach Danny Hall, Tech is 129-43 (.750) against teams from Georgia.

Updated Game Times

Another game time that has changed because of TV is the Saturday game vs. Coastal Carolina on May 3. First pitch for that game is now scheduled for 4 p.m.

Power Surge

The Yellow Jacket offense has already hit 54 home runs in 2008, which is four more than Georgia Tech hit in all of 2007. Tech’s 54 home runs stand third only to Florida State and Miami in the Atlantic Coast Conference totals.

The Jackets have also been blessed with a balance of power in 2008, as four different players have hit eight home runs already this season. Derek Dietrich leads Tech with 11 home runs while Brad Feltes, Tony Plagman and Luke Murton have added 10, nine and eight, respectively.

Ain’t That Grand?

Speaking of power numbers, the Yellow Jackets have made the best of their home runs in 2008, smacking six grand slams this season.

Brad Feltes leads all players in grand slams, as four of the senior third baseman’s 10 home runs have come with the bases loaded. Derek Dietrich and Luke Murton have provided the other two for the Yellow Jackets this season.

Tech has hit two grand slams in the same game just once, and that occurred when Feltes and Murton both had grand slams against Georgia Southern (4/16) … The Jackets have hit grand slams in three ACC games this season.

Throwing Them Out

While the Jackets have managed 61 stolen bases on 78 attempts in 2008, Tech opponents haven’t fared as well, swiping just 36 bases on 55 attempts (only a .655 success rate) off the Yellow Jacket pitchers and catchers. That success rate is partially due to the stellar arm of starting catcher Jason Haniger, who has gunned down 14 of 35 runners (40 percent) trying to steal on him.

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