April 23, 2009
ATLANTA – Fourth-ranked Georgia Tech (27-9-1, 13-5-1 ACC) looks to return to the win column this weekend when it travels to Clemson to take on the 20th-ranked Tigers (28-14, 12-9 ACC) for a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference series beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m. The two teams will meet at 6:30 p.m. Saturday before concluding the series Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Jackets traveled to Cullowhee, N.C. Wednesday night to complete that back end of a home-and-home series against Western Carolina. Tech earned a 16-7 victory at home Tuesday but had its winning streak snapped at seven games Wednesday when the Catamounts came from behind to win, 10-9, on their home field.
Clemson enters the weekend on a three-game winning streak following midweek victories over Coastal Carolina and South Carolina. The Tigers are ranked as high as No. 20 in this week’s polls.
Georgia Tech was a consensus preseason top-25 team that moved into the top-10 in the season’s first official polls. The Yellow Jackets have been ranked as high as No. 3 this season (by Collegiate Baseball in March) and currently appear among the top-10 in all five of the following polls: Collegiate Baseball (4), Baseball America (7), Rivals.com (7), USA Today (7) and the NCBWA (8).
Pitching Matchup (Georgia Tech vs. Clemson)
Friday – 6:30 p.m.: RHP Deck McGuire (6-0, 2.56) vs. LHP Chris Dwyer (4-3, 4.30)
Saturday – 6:30 p.m.: RHP Zach Von Tersch (6-1, 4.91) vs. LHP Casey Harman (4-3, 3.86)
Sunday – 1 p.m.: RHP Brandon Cumpton (2-0, 4.24) vs. TBA
Senior RF Luke Murton (.368-11-41-4), junior 1B Tony Plagman (.357-11-48-4) and freshman 3B Matt Skole (.333-10-36-2) are powering the Yellow Jacket offense in 2009, while sophomore CF Jeff Rowland (.363-5-27-15), senior C Jason Haniger (.342-6-37-2) and senior LF Chris House (.338-3-14-0) have been hot of late.
The entire series can be watched on ACC Select (www.accselect.com), the live, online video service of the ACC. WREK Radio (91.1 FM in Atlanta/www.wrek.org) will carry the first two games of the series, while AM 790 The Zone broadcasts the series finale. Live stats for all Tech baseball games are available at Ramblinwreck.com.
Tech vs. Clemson (Clemson leads, 97-95-3)
The series between Clemson and Georgia Tech remains in the Tigers’ favor by a narrow 97-95-3 margin entering the weekend, and Clemson is 32-26 against the Yellow Jackets in the dual between the two head coaches. Both Danny Hall and Jack Leggett began their current posts in 1994, and Clemson has won four more games than the Yellow Jackets during that 15-year span. The two teams play best on their home fields, as Clemson is 41-19-1 against the Yellow Jackets in Clemson, including winning the last series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, 2-1, in 2007. Georgia Tech won last year’s series, 2-1, at Russ Chandler Stadium, but the Tigers won the last game between the two teams, 10-4, at the 2008 ACC Tournament.
Tech Earns NCAA Public Recognition Award for Academic Performance
Tech baseball was one of three Yellow Jacket sports teams to receive the NCAA Public Recognition Award for their academic performance, as announced by the NCAA office April 22. The awards are given to teams in all divisions that finished in the top 10 percent in their sport with their APRs (Academic Progress Reports). High-performing teams receiving public recognition this year posted APR scores ranging from 976 to a perfect 1,000.
Bullish on the Bullpen
Georgia Tech’s pitching staff may be holding opponents to a .228 batting average and 2.89 ERA over the last six games, but those numbers are highlighted by the impressive play of the Yellow Jacket bullpen.
The bullpen has allowed just four earned runs over their last 20.2 IP, which encompasses six games and includes 15 total appearances by seven different pitchers. Of those 15 appearances, 12 have been scoreless outings and only one of the six runners that the seven pitchers have inherited has actually scored.
Georgia Tech has played 15 games away from Russ Chandler Stadium, including a string of seven over a nine-game span in late March while the Jackets are currently in the midst of nine road games over a 10-day span. While several teams struggle when they hit the road, the opposite is actually true for this Yellow Jacket squad.
Tech is 11-4 on the road, as compared to 15-5-1 at Russ Chandler Stadium. Of the six Yellow Jackets that have started at least 35 games this season, five have actually posted higher batting averages away from the Rusty C than they do at home. As a team, the Jackets are batting .336 while scoring 9.3 runs per game on the road, as compared to .317 with 8.8 runs per game at Russ Chandler Stadium.
The offense isn’t the only part of this team that doesn’t mind hitting the road. While all three weekend starters have posted better ERA’s at home, the team as a whole owns a 4.26 ERA on the road vs. a 4.91 ERA at home. Even more impressive is the work of Tech’s bullpen in road games. The group hasn’t allowed opposing fans to get to them, but have instead posted a 2.45 ERA while opponents are batting just .213 against them in 55.0 innings on the road. Conversely, Tech’s bullpen owns a 6.15 ERA at home while opponents are batting .274 against them in 79.0 innings at the Rusty C.
On the Offensive
Over the last seven games, the Yellow Jacket offense has blistered opponents for 44 extra base hits while batting .378 (109-288). Five regular starters are batting over .400 during that span, and seven different starters have hit at least two home runs over the last seven contests. Five of the Yellow Jacket batters have hit safely in all seven games.
When the Heat is On…
When the pressure is on, head coach Danny Hall has his pick of pitchers in the bullpen that have proven time and time again that they can do the job. Mark Pope, Jake Davies and Zach Brewster have been those guys Hall has turned to when the heat is on. All three have entered games in key situations, and all three have responded well. Even more impressive is the fact that Davies and Pope are both freshman while Brewster, the “veteran” of the trio, had just one collegiate pitching appearance to his credit entering the 2009 season.
For the season, Pope has inherited 15 runners upon his entry into games, allowing just two to score. He has a streak of four-straight inherited runners that he’s stranded. Brewster has inherited 19 runners in his 21 appearances this season, and he’s allowed just five to score – but none of the last four that he’s inherited have crossed the plate. Finally, Davies has inherited a team-high 25 runners this season, and the left-hander has allowed just four of those to score. He has a streak of 16-straight inherited runners that have been stranded on base.