June 1, 2014
OXFORD, Miss. – Matt Gonzalez broke a 1-1 tie with a two-out, two-run double in the ninth inning as No. 25 Georgia Tech rallied to stave off elimination Sunday with a 4-2 win over Jacksonville State in the NCAA Oxford Regional.
The Yellow Jackets (37-26) will play again Sunday versus the loser of a game between Washington and Ole Miss that was set for a 4 p.m. ET first pitch. The late game at Ole Miss’s Swayze Field will begin at approximately 8 p.m. ET on ESPN3.
Tech has won four of its last five NCAA Regional elimination games, including a 3-1 mark in elimination games last year in Nashville. Jacksonville State (36-27) had won six straight elimination games to claim the Ohio Valley Conference tournament title.
“I thought that was a very well-played game and as most of our games have been this year, seems like they all come down to somebody getting a hit and somebody making a pitch,” said head coach Danny Hall. “I was very pleased with our pitching. And it was a great two-out rally and we’re happy to have the chance to play again.”
Senior Dusty Isaacs (8-5) earned the win by pitching the final 1.1 innings of relief, dodging a last-minute threat by the Gamecocks in the bottom of the ninth. He entered the game in the eighth, getting a strikeout to strand two runners and left two more stranded in the ninth.
Gonzalez delivered his decisive blow by hammering the go-ahead, two-RBI double to the gap in right field, after back-to-back singles from Daniel Spingola and Mott Hyde kept the inning alive. Thomas Smith’s RBI single followed Gonzalez as the Jackets tacked on insurance at 4-1.
Tech was 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position before Gonzalez’s team-leading 20th double.
“We just couldn’t get the key hit,” said Hall. “We were getting guys in scoring position. When you get them there, you’re hoping that somebody steps up and gets a hit. We couldn’t do it. You give them some credit for making pitches when they needed to.”
Isaacs closed out the ninth, but it wasn’t easy as JSU loaded the bases with no outs and scratched across a run on a fielder’s choice. Isaacs then got pop fly from Michael Bishop and a fly ball from Eddie Mora-Loera to end it.
The Gamecocks drew first blood by stringing together three consecutive singles off starter Devin Stanton in the fourth. Ryan Sebra’s knock through the left side opened the scoring, but an inning-ending double play ended the threat.
The equalizer for the Jackets came in the next inning after Ryan Peurifoy smacked a lead-off triple down the right-field line. Mitch Earnest’s sacrifice fly was deep enough to score the rookie for the senior’s 19th RBI.
Tech’s defense, which Sunday afternoon played its sixth error-free game of the last seven, turned another double play to end the sixth inning, and arguably the game’s key play came from Peurifoy’s arm in right in the seventh.
With JSU threatening with one out, Tyler Gamble, who singled, was gunned on a laser from Peurifoy as Gamble was trying to reach third on Cal Lambert’s single.
“That was clutch, big time” said Gonzalez of Peurifoy’s throw. “He’s just got a great arm and that was definitely a turning point in the game, for sure.”
The outfield assist was the 23rd of the year for Tech, which ties for the NCAA lead. Tech’s two twin-killing added to its NCAA-leading and school record total of 77.
Peurifoy finished 2-for-2 with a walk and a sacrifice bunt. Smith had three of the Jackets’ 12 hits, while Gonzalez was 2-for-5.
Junior Devin Stanton earned the start and the lefty worked five strong innings with three strikeouts but turned the 1-1 game over the bullpen. Sophomore Sam Clay fired 2.2 scoreless in relief and Isaacs brought it home.
The loss fell to JSU closer Travis Stout (3-1), who entered the game with a 1.17 ERA and 32 career saves.