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No. 10 Georgia Tech and No. 2 Florida State Meet in ACC Baseball Showdown

May 1, 2003

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ATLANTA–Georgia Tech, ranked 10th in the nation by USA Today/Baseball Weekly, hosts No. 2 Florida State for a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference series this weekend at Russ Chandler Stadium. Gametimes are 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. The Yellow Jackets and Seminoles are currently tied for first place in the ACC standings at 11-4, while NC State sits in third place just percentage points behind at 13-5. Tech visits Virginia and hosts NC State in the final two weeks of the regular season, while Florida State finishes its season on the road at Maryland and Duke. NC State hosts Maryland this weekend.

Weekend Coverage: Friday’s game will be televised regionally by Fox Sports Net South and Sunshine. Radio coverage on Friday and Sunday will be available on WREK-Radio (91.1 FM in Atlanta). Radio coverage on Saturday will be available on “790 The Zone” (790 AM in Atlanta). Live statistics and the radio broadcast will also be available on the internet at www.ramblinwreck.com.

GEORGIA TECH UPDATE (32-11, 11-4 ACC)

Georgia Tech dropped three games at Clemson last weekend to snap a streak of seven straight ACC series wins. The Yellow Jackets are still tied for first place in the ACC standings with Florida State. Tech’s 17-0 start to the season eclipsed the previous school record of a 16-0 start in 1987.

Tech has belted 63 home runs this season (averaging 1.46 per game after hitting 0.97 per game in 2002). The Yellow Jackets have raised the team average over .300 after hitting .277 through the first 19 games of the season.

The Georgia Tech pitching staff owns a 3.94 team ERA and opponents are batting .249 against Tech pitching this season. Junior LHP Kyle Bakker (7-0, 3.25) will start on Friday night in the series opener while freshman RHP Micah Owings (6-1, 4.45) will start the second game on Saturday night. Sunday’s starter is TBA.

FLORIDA STATE UPDATE (38-7-1, 11-4 ACC)

Florida State is 38-7-1 overall and 11-4 in the ACC after posting a 4-1-1 record against Miami over the last two weekends. The Seminoles are batting .295 as a team and own a team ERA of 2.53. Junior LHP Trent Peterson (8-1, 2.16) is the scheduled starter on Friday night, senior LHP Matt Lynch (9-3, 3.61) will start on Saturday and senior LHP Daniel Davidson (7-0, 1.83) will start game three on Sunday.

QUOTING DANNY HALL

ON SERIES VS. FLORIDA STATE:

“It’s a key series in the ACC with both of us being tied in the standings. I am very impressed with their pitching staff. Their pitchers have been outstanding – not just their starters but also their relievers. That’s why they are ranked No. 2 in the country.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for our club to play Florida State at home, to not only solidify our position in the ACC but also our position nationally as try to work hard to host a regional. It’s a marquee series and it is going to be a fin series.”

ON THE FINAL THREE WEEKENDS OF THE SEASON:

“We are in the home stretch, and you want to be in the position to control your own destiny. We are in that position, and I like the fact that six of the nine remaining conference games are at home. I feel good about where we are at, and I like the fact that we are going to play the majority of them at home.

“We are looking at playing Florida State, who is ranked No. 2 in the country. Then we play at Virginia, who is ranked in the top 20 in the RPI and has played everyone tough this season as they fight to finish in the top half of the league. And then we finish with NC State, which has been the big surprise team this year and they have beaten everyone in the league that they have played. This is the time of year where you know that you are going to be playing good teams.”

ON FINAL EXAM WEEK:

“The biggest thing is getting our guys through the week. They don’t get a lot of rest because they have to study a lot as they get through their final exams. But it also gives us a chance to rest some guys that are banged up, and give us a chance to work individually with some guys. Then once Friday hits we will be finished with school and we can just concentrate on baseball. That’s the best time of the year for me, and I know that it’s the best time of the year for our players.”

GEORGIA TECH VS. FLORIDA STATE

FLORIDA STATE LEADS, 52-23

Florida State leads Georgia Tech, 52-23, in a series that dates to 1959. The Seminoles hold a 17-11 advantage in games played in Atlanta. Since the 2000 season, Florida State holds a slim 7-5 advantage over Georgia Tech.

Last year, Tech and Florida State met on four occasions – three games in Tallahassee during the regular season and in the ACC Tournament in St. Petersburg – and the Seminoles won all four games. Florida State swept the three-game regular season series by scores of 4-3, 14-9 and 13-1, before the Seminoles eliminated the Yellow Jackets in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament, 7-4.

Two years ago in Atlanta, the Yellow Jackets won two of three to take the series and snap FSU’s five-series win streak that went from 1996 through 2000.

Georgia Tech is 13-19 against Florida State under head coach Danny Hall.

STARTING PITCHER NOTES

Friday: KYLE BAKKER (LHP) 7-0, 3.25 ERA

Junior Kyle Bakker will start on Friday in the opening game of the Florida State series, and he will be making his 12th start of the season and the 37th start of his collegiate career.

Bakker is 7-0 with a 3.25 ERA in 2003, and he has been at his best over his last four starts following a three-week rough stretch. Bakker is 3-0 in his last four starts (wins against North Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest and a no decision at Clemson), posting a 1.95 ERA (six runs in 27.2 IP). Bakker had a streak of 15 innings without allowing a run snapped in his most recent start at Clemson (4/25).

Bakker enters Friday’s game having won 11 consecutive decisions, and he has not suffered a defeat since April 26, 2002 against Virginia.

For his career, Bakker stands at 24-3 with a 3.10 ERA in 243.2 innings pitched. Bakker currently ranks as the top command pitcher in school history, allowing just 1.95 walks per nine innings.

A preseason All-America in 2003, Bakker earned second team All-America honors in 2002 after earning Freshman All-America honors in 2001. The 6-9 lefty spent the summer of 2002 with the USA Baseball National team, and he posted a 3-2 record and a 2.14 ERA in six starts.

Saturday: MICAH OWINGS (RHP) 6-2, 4.45 ERA

Freshman Micah Owings gets the nod on Saturday night in what will be his eighth start and 13th appearance of the season. Owings holds the unique distinction of earning a win in each of his first four career appearances, including two starts and two relief stints.

Owings earned a win in his first career start against Campbell (Mar. 4) after holding the Camels to two runs on four hits in six innings. He struck out three batters and did not issue a walk. The freshman won his second start of the season on Mar. 11 at Auburn (6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K).

Owing allowed eight earned runs over 26.2 IP (2.70 ERA) in five appearances (Mercer, Miami, North Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest) prior to his most recent outing where he surrendered seven earned runs in seven innings. In his last home start against Wake Forest on Apr. 20, a 5-3 Tech win, Owings carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning.

The 6-5 power righthander made his first career appearance in Tech’s second game of the season, working 3.1 scoreless and hitless innings against Georgia Southern. The only baserunner he allowed came via a hit batsman on an 0-2 pitch. Owings earned a win in relief against Michigan in his second appearance, recording two outs in the top of the ninth inning in a tie game before Tech rallied for a 7-6 win in the bottom of the ninth.

As a senior at Gainesville High School, Owings went 12-1 with a 1.03 ERA while recording 121 strikeouts and just three walks in 75 innings.

Owings also serves as Tech’s regular DH, and he has a team-high 14 home runs.

PITCHING STRUGGLES AFTER THREE-WEEK HOT STRETCH

Prior last weekend’s sweep at Clemson, Georgia Tech won eight of nine games from North Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest behind strong performances from the starting rotation of LHP Kyle Bakker and RHP’s Chris Goodman and Micah Owings. Over that nine game stretch, the starting rotation went a combined 7-0 with a 2.53 ERA in eight starts. In the Yellow Jackets’ last home series, a three game sweep of Wake Forest, the staff posted a 2.00 ERA and held the Deacon bats to a .214 team average.

Bakker tossed the second complete-game shutout of his career, outdueling Wake Forest ace Kyle Sleeth in Tech’s 2-0 win on Friday night. On Sunday, Owings took a no-hitter into the seventh inning as Tech won 5-3. Goodman worked six effective innings in Tech’s 10-4 win on Saturday.

The Tech staff had its hot streak come to an end last weekend at Clemson, allowing 24 earned runs in three games.

YELLOW JACKETS’ ACC SERIES WIN STREAK SNAPPED AT SEVEN

Georgia Tech won seven consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference weekend series dating back to late April of 2002 before dropping the series at Clemson last weekend. Tech won series from Virginia (2-1), Clemson (2-1) and North Carolina (2-1) down the stretch of 2002, and the Yellow Jackets posted series wins over Maryland (3-0), North Carolina (2-1), Duke (3-0) and Wake Forest (3-0).

That streak of seven straight series wins in the second longest in school history since the ACC adopted the current three-game format for the 1990 season. Tech won 10 straight series in 1993 and 1994.

The Yellow Jackets have won 10 of their last 12 ACC weekend series, dropping only road series at Florida State and Clemson over that stretch.

THE FRIENDLY CONFINES OF RUSS CHANDLER

Georgia Tech is 20-4 at home and just 10-7 on the road this season. The Yellow Jackets’ two worst performances of the season have come on the road – three-game sweeps at Miami and at Clemson. Tech’s offense has been relatively similar at home (.318, 7.6 runs per game) and on the road (.294, 8.5 runs per game). The biggest difference, however, has been the performance of the Tech pitching staff, which has fared much better at home.

PITCHING COMPARISON BY SITESite    GP (W-L)        ERA     Opp/Avg Opp/OB% K/BB    SB-AHome    24 (20-4)       3.28    .237    .301    2.7/1   8-15Road    17 (10-7)       5.15    .272    .359    1.8/1   16-21

HOME, SWEET HOME

Georgia Tech has had great success at home in the history of Russ Chandler Stadium, winning better than 80% of its home games since the facility first opened in 1985. The Yellow Jackets are 20-4 at home in 2003.

Tech has been especially formidable at Russ Chandler Stadium over the last two seasons since the facility was torn down and rebuilt at a cost of $9.7 million. The Yellow Jackets won their first 22 games in their new ballpark in 2002, and Tech is 56-8 (.875) in the new Russ Chandler Stadium.

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