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No. 1 Baseball Jackets Host USC in NCAA Super Regional

Super Regional Bracket [PDF file]

ATLANTA (May 29) — The Georgia Tech baseball team, ranked No. 1 nationally by both Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America this week, host Southern California in a three-game NCAA Super Regional this weekend at Russ Chandler Stadium. At stake is a berth in the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

Georgia Tech’s record currently stands at 50-14 after the Yellow Jackets swept through the NCAA Atlanta Regional with a perfect 3-0 record last weekend. Tech defeated Stetson, 16-11 on Sunday to claim the regional championship and advance to Super Regional this weekend. USC went 3-0 in the NCAA Fullerton Regional last weekend.

The Yellow Jackets and Trojans will play a best of three series, and the winner will advance to the CWS which begins on June 9. The series kicks off on Friday at 7 p.m. and continues on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. (if necessary).

Georgia Tech and Southern California met on March 3 in Fullerton, Calif, when the Trojans claimed a 9-2 decision in the Kia Baseball Blast. Since that game, however, the Jackets have posted a 42-9 record.

“I was very impressed with USC when we saw them earlier in the season in California,” said head coach Danny Hall, the 2000 ACC Coach of the Year. “And at the time, I thought they were the best team in that tournament and were one of the best teams in the country. I know that they have two outstanding pitchers in Rik Currier, who pitched the championship game in the College World Series as a freshman, and Mark Prior, one of the top prospects for the draft next season. USC has a great all-around team and they will certainly present a big challenge for us.”

Tech drew 15,767 fans for the six-game regional last weekend at Russ Chandler Stadium, and Hall is excited to play before more big crowds this weekend.

“It’s a great advantage to be able to play at home,” said Hall. “It’s tough to go on the road to win two out of three wherever you go, and I think it’s tough for other teams to come into our ballpark. The big crowds last weekend says a lot about our alumni and fans and the support that they have for our program. Now it becomes even more critical that they come back to support us this weekend.”

Despite playing in its 17th NCAA Regional this spring, Georgia Tech is looking for just its second College World Series berth. The Yellow Jackets made their first trip to Omaha in 1994 when Tech was led by current Major League stars Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Varitek and Jay Payton, and the Jackets advanced all the way to the championship game before being eliminated by Oklahoma, 13-5.

After juggling the starting rotation the last two weeks in the ACC Tournament and NCAA Regional, Hall will revert back to his usual weekend rotation against USC.

Junior southpaw and staff ace Cory Vance (Vandalia, Ohio), 13-2, 3.21, will start the opening game in the Super Regional. The Yellow Jackets’ leader in victories, innings pitched (112), strikeouts (117) and complete games (5), Vance has won each of his last five starts, all of which have come against nationally-ranked opponents.

Saturday’s and Sunday’s starter will come from a pair of sophomore right-handers. Rhett Parrott (Dalton, Ga.), 8-2, 4.22, who has owns a 6-0 record in his last nine starts, will start one of those two games against USC. Parrott tossed seven effective innings to pick up a win over Georgia Southern in the first round of the NCAA Atlanta Regional last weekend.

Steve Kelly (Fairfield, Ohio), 8-2, 4.73 ERA, who was a mainstay in the weekend rotation throughout the season, is the other candidate to get the starting call. Kelly kicked off Tech’s run to the ACC Championship with a win over Duke two weeks ago, and he was the winning pitcher in the clinching game of the NCAA Atlanta Regional last Sunday against Stetson.

Freshmen Jeff Watchko (Roswell, Ga.), 4-1, 3.18, 6 saves, and Philip Perry (Marietta, Ga.), 4-0, 2.98, 1 SV, sophomore Kevin Cameron (Joliet, Ill.), 5-2, 4.41, 1 SV, junior Andy Mitchell (Conyers, Ga.), 4-0, 4.84, 5 SV, and senior Ben Sheeter (Lilburn, Ga.), 3-4, 6.13, have been the main workhorses out of the bullpen this season.

Tech’s bullpen was especially impressive during the five-game ACC Tournament where Yellow Jacket relievers combined for a 2-0 record, one save and a 0.96 ERA in 9.1 innings out of the pen.

Georgia Tech leads the ACC with a .345 team batting average, more than 20 points better than second place North Carolina, and the Jackets boast four of the ACC’s top five hitters. The Yellow Jackets have more hits (816) and have scored more runs (599) than any other team in the league, and Tech ranks among the top five teams in the nation in batting and runs scored.

Sophomore third baseman Mark Teixeira (Severna Park, Md.), .422, 18 HR, 80 RBI, who leads the ACC in batting, runs scored (104) and home runs, was named the ACC Player of the Year last week. Sophomore second baseman Richard Lewis (Marietta, Ga.), .406, 4, 51, junior catcher Bryan Prince (Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.), .395, 8, 77, and junior left fielder Jason Basil (West Chester, Ohio), .393, 15, 83, and rank third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the ACC batting race.

Prince was named the MVP of the NCAA Atlanta Regional after batting .643 (9-for-14) with four doubles, seven RBI and nine runs scored. Basil, meanwhile, was the MVP of the ACC Tournament two weeks ago after batting .684 and setting a tournament record with 26 total bases.

Junior right fielder Brad Stockton (Marietta, Ga.), .352, 7, 38, has also been hot of late, batting .520 in the last 13 games and earning ACC All-Tournament and NCAA All-Regional honors in the process.

Sophomore Victor Menocal (Gainesville, Ga.), .331, 3, 39, is the everyday starter at shortstop while sophomore Wes Rynders (Marietta, Ga.), .262, 1, 30, is the regular in center field.

Freshmen Tyler Parker (Marietta, Ga.), .240, 11, 41, and Jason Perry (Jonesboro, Ga.), .284, 3, 10, split time at first base. Junior Derik Goffena (Sidney, Ohio), .298, 4, 56, who can also play first base, is the team’s primary designated hitter.

Joining Prince and Stockton on the NCAA All-Regional team last weekend were Teixeira, Menocal, Lewis and Vance.

TECH IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
Georgia Tech is playing in an NCAA Regional for the 15th time in the last 16 years. Tech had been to 14 straight regionals from 1985 through 1998 before being left out of the field of 64 last season.

Georgia Tech made its first and only trip to the College World Series in 1994, advancing to the championship game before losing to Oklahoma, 13-5. The Yellow Jackets have posted an overall 37-32 record in NCAA tournament action. Tech’s NCAA Tournament record under Danny Hall is 18-10, including a 15-9 record in regional tournaments.

The Yellow Jackets have earned a national top-eight No. 1 seed five times, including this season, and four times in the past seven seasons. Tech was last a No. 1 seed in 1998 in Starkville, Miss., when the Jackets won their first two games before losing twice to end the season.

Tech is making its third NCAA Regional appearance at Russ Chandler Stadium. The facility also served as a regional host in 1987 and 1993, and the Jackets own a 5-4 record in NCAA play on their home field.

TECH TOPS 50 WINS
With its victory over Stetson in the championship game of the NCAA Atlanta Regional last weekend, Georgia Tech picked up its 50th win of the season. The Yellow Jackets have reached the 50-win plateau for the third time in school history, also accomplishing the feat in 1987 and 1994. The school record for wins in 51, set during the 1987 season.

JACKETS LIGHT UP THE SCOREBOARD
Georgia Tech swept through the NCAA Atlanta Regional thanks largely in part to the Yellow Jackets’ potent offensive attack. As a team, Tech hit .416 in the three games, and the Jackets scored 51 runs (an average of 17 per game).

Six regulars hit better than .400 in the tournament, including catcher Bryan Prince (.643), second baseman Richard Lewis (.583), shortstop Victor Menocal (.563), right fielder Brad Stockton (.467), third baseman Mark Teixeira (.462) and first baseman Jason Perry (.400).

VANCE NEARLY PERFECT IN ATLANTA
Junior Cory Vance will get a chance to make another start in the friendly confines of Russ Chandler Stadium this weekend in the NCAA Atlanta Super Regional. Vance, who tossed a seven strong innings over No. 7 Clemson in his final start of the regular season at home and then picked up a win the NCAA Regional with a seven-inning sting over Stetson, now owns a career record of 19-1 on his home field.

The southpaw’s lone loss at Russ Chandler Stadium came at the hands of North Carolina during his freshman year, and he has since won 17 straight games in Atlanta. Vance is projected as an early-round draft pick for the upcoming 2000 Major League Baseball amateur draft.

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