May 22, 2013
DURHAM, N.C. – A.J. Murray and Mott Hyde slammed back-to-back home runs over the Blue Monster at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park with two outs in the ninth inning as Georgia Tech rallied to stun No. 7 Florida State, 4-3, Wednesday afternoon as play began at the 2013 ACC Championship, where the Jackets are the defending champions.
Seventh-seeded Tech (34-23) won its fifth consecutive ACC Tournament game by staging a dramatic comeback after taking a 2-0 lead in the fourth, and watching the second-seeded Seminoles (44-13) rally for the tie in the sixth and the lead in the eighth.
The dramatic ninth-inning blasts from Murray and Hyde were the first two home runs allowed by FSU closer Robby Coles this season, who entered the game with a 4-1 record, nine saves and a 1.16 ERA. It marked the first time this year that FSU lost when leading after the eighth inning (40-1), and was Tech’s third win when trailing after eight (3-20).
“It was a great college baseball game,” said head coach Danny Hall, who improved Tech to 72-53 all-time in ACC postseason play. “I have the utmost respect for Florida State and certainly their program, and it was a great win for us. To be down to our last out, and then get a home run by A.J. (Murray) … then Mott (Hyde) backed it up with another home run. We’re excited to have a win against a great team and I’m very proud of how our guys hung in.”
Coles dealt a 1-0 fastball to Murray, who tomahawked the game-tying homer over the 32-foot navy blue wall that dominates left field at the DBAP. Hyde stepped in, and two pitches later, carbon-copied Murray’s shot with the go-ahead blast off a Coles’ slider.
Hyde, who homered twice at the ACC Tournament in Greensboro last season, went yard for the sixth time in 2013, and all six have come over the last 21 games. The junior from Calhoun, Ga. smacked a walk-off homer to beat then-No. 1 North Carolina, 5-4, on May 10 in Atlanta.
“I was telling coach, I saw A.J. (Murray) in B.P. today and it was looking good,” said Hyde. “So I knew he was going to do something big today. I kind of just wanted to get up there and put the ball in play somewhere, try to make it onto second base and put myself in scoring position and ended up getting a little bit more than that.”
Hyde finished the game 3-for-4, with a homer, a pair of singles and drove in two runs. Tech is now 14-2 in games when Hyde homers in his career.
It was a pitchers’ duel early between two of the best arms in the nation as Georgia Tech’s Buck Farmer and Florida State’s Scott Sitz – both first-team All-ACC selections – squared off in a rematch of last season’s tournament-opener, which Tech won 5-4.
Farmer was given a 2-0 cushion in the fourth as Brandon Thomas got the inning started with a triple off the base of the wall in right-center field and broke the scoreless tie thanks to Daniel Palka’s RBI grounder. A walk to Zane Evans and a single by Sam Dove set the stage for Hyde to make it 2-0 when he ripped an RBI single to right.
The Seminoles drew even in the sixth, finally scoring a run off Farmer, who had pitched 14-consecutive scoreless innings versus FSU dating back to last year’s ACC Tournament. Seth Miller was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame and D.J. Stewart’s double that slipped the gap in left put runners at second and third with no outs.
Marcus Davis lifted a sacrifice fly to right to make it 2-1, and two batters later, Jose Brizuela’s sac fly to center tied the game. Stewart wasn’t done, and the FSU left-fielder finished the game a homer shy of the cycle, after he tripled off the wall in right to lead off the eighth inning.
Stewart was the last batter faced by Farmer, who watched from the dugout as Palka moved from right field to the mound and got a pop up for the first out. In the next at bat, Stephen McGee lifted another pop-up to shallow right, and the aggressive Stewart tagged and scored for the lead.
“Buck (Farmer) pitched a great game and it would’ve been a shame if he got the loss,” said Hall. “So I’m glad that Mott bailed him out, taking him off the hook.”
Palka, who singled in the first inning and drove in a run, retired all six Seminoles he faced and was in line for his second win (2-1). Coles (4-2) absorbed the loss for FSU.
Farmer fanned eight over seven strong innings, yielding six hits and three runs but did not factor in the decision. Tech’s late-game rally allowed Farmer to keep his impressive record versus top-10 ranked teams at 6-1 in his career. He is unbeaten this season in four starts versus FSU, Virginia and North Carolina — each are ranked seventh or better.
The Jackets continue play in Pool B Thursday morning at 11 a.m. versus third-seeded Virginia. The game can be seen on the ACC’s regional sports network, including Fox Sports South, and is live on ESPN3.