March 8, 2012
No. 10 Georgia Tech (10-3) at North CarolinaState (9-2) Game 14 Friday, March 9, 3 p.m. Game15 Saturday, March 10, 2 p.m. Game 16 Sunday, March 11, 1p.m. Location Raleigh, N.C. | Doak Field atDail Park | Weather Radio WREK Radio Stats Gametracker Webcast ESPN3 (Saturday) | ESPN3 (Sunday) Game Info GameNotes | 2012 MediaGuide | Facebook | Twitter
>> The No. 10 Georgia Tech baseball team opens Atlantic Coast Conference play this weekend in Raleigh, N.C. with a three-game series versus Atlantic Division rival NC State.
>> Saturday’s and Sunday’s game will be carried on ESPN3 live, with all three games live on WREK Radio, 91.1 FM in Atlanta, and on RamblinWreck.com.
>> Georgia Tech has won the series in four straight ACC openers (all via sweeps) and is 44-9 under head coach Danny Hall on the opening weekend of ACC play. Under Hall, Tech has won 15 of 18 conference-opening series.
>> Hall, in his 19th season at Tech and 25th overall, enters the weekend just three wins shy of his 1,000th career win. He would become the 47th Division-I coach to achieve the milestone.
>> The Yellow Jackets’ weekend staff of preseason All-America Buck Farmer, Matthew Grimes and Dusty Isaacs own a combined 2.73 ERA in 52.2 innings this season, with 58 strikeouts, 19 walks and a minuscule .199 opponent batting average.
>> Sophomore Daniel Palka, thanks to a seventh-inning home runs Wednesday at Georgia State, carries a team-best 12-game hitting streak. He, Kyle Wren and Brandon Thomas have reached base in every game this season.
>> Slugging .494 as a team entering the week, Tech leads the ACC and ranks 15th nationally. Tech is also among the NCAA’s top 15 in runs (101), hits (147), doubles (32) and triples (7).
A MODEL OF SUCCESS
>> With an appearance in the 2011 NCAA Atlanta Regional, Georgia Tech returned to the NCAA Tournament for the 25th time in the last 27 years. The Yellow Jackets have played in the NCAA Tournament every year since 1985 with the exception of the 1999 and 2007 seasons, and made its 27th overall postseason appearance in history last year.
>> Since 2002, Georgia Tech has appeared in nine NCAA Regionals, three NCAA Super Regionals and two College World Series (2002 and 2006).
>> Prior to its recent streak, Georgia Tech had participated in the NCAA playoff just twice, in 1959 and 1971, with an additional play-in tournament appearance in 1948.
>> Georgia Tech made its first trip to the College World Series in 1994, advancing to the championship game before falling to Oklahoma, 13-5.
>> Under Danny Hall, Tech is averaging 43.3 wins per season, a figure that ranks 10th nationally since the 1994 season.
FORMER JACKETS MAKE HEADLINES
>> Former Tech greats Nomar Garciaparra (`92-94) and Jason Varitek (`91-94) made headlines last week as Varitek announced his retirement and Garciaparra was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame. The pair led Georgia Tech to the program’s first College World Series in 1994 — reaching the title game.
SCOUTING THE WOLFPACK
>> NC State brings a 9-2 record into its ACC opener and has received solid production from the mound, which sports a 1.80 team ERA this season and 115 strikeouts against 28 walks in 100 innings.
>> Chris Diaz paces the offense, hitting .426 with a home run and 14 RBI. Trea Tuner has swiped an ACC-leading 13 bases in 13 attempts and has drawn a team-high 11 walks.
>> Lefty Carlos Rodon, scheduled to start on Saturday, owns a 1.35 ERA and is 2-0.
THE NC STATE SERIES
>> All-time, Georgia Tech owns a 70-46 lead and has won six-straight in the series that dates back to 1921. But this has been a series where the home team has had the advantage, as Tech is 36-11 in games in Atlanta, while State is 24-21 in Raleigh (Tech leads 13-11 on neutral fields).
>> The Jackets have faced the Wolfpack twice on ACC-opening weekend, going 1-2 at Russ Chandler Stadium in 2001 and sweeping State 3-0 in Raleigh in 2002.
>> Last season, the Jackets swept State in Atlanta (out-scoring them 32-6 in the regular season) and then won 6-5 in the ACC Tournament in 15 innings, when Mott Hyde stole home in the top of the 15th.
NATIONAL POLL UPDATE
>> Georgia Tech remains highly-ranked in the major college baseball national polls this week, sitting at No. 9 in the NCBWA and Baseball America polls and No. 10 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Collegiate Baseball polls.
>> Georgia Tech was ranked as high as No. 9 in the 2012 preseason polls and the Yellow Jackets have been ranked every year in the preseason under Danny Hall.
CLOSING ON MAJOR MILESTONE
>> Having spent his entire coaching career involved with winning programs, Danny Hall’s tenure at Georgia Tech has been his most successful, as he is the all-time winningest baseball coach in Yellow Jacket history with 789 victories at the school.
>> Now in his 19th season on the Flats, Hall is just three victories shy of becoming the 47th Division-I baseball coach all-time to reach 1,000 career wins (Missouri State’s Keith Guttin became the 46th last weekend).
>> Entering 2012, he was ranked 13th among active Division-I coaches in winning percentage (.679), and is 16th among active D-I coaches in number of victories (987).
>> Hall has led Tech to the NCAA Tournament on 16 occasions and guided the Yellow Jackets to the College World Series in 1994, 2002 and 2006, the only head coach in the program’s storied history to reach the promised land of Omaha.
>> Hall, 57, is 997-469-1 as a head coach, including six seasons at Kent State. At Tech, Hall’s record is 789-352-1.
>> Tech has displayed balance offensively over its 10-3 start, getting at least five hits from 12 different players and seeing 15 players score the team’s 101 runs.
>> Tech’s balance was on full display last week as the team went 4-0 and hit .391. Six different players hit .350 or better, six scored five+ runs, the 19 extra-base hits were spread over nine different players and nine players collected three+ RBI.
>> Six regulars are hitting above a .315-clip, with Sam Dove’s .404 leading the way.
>> Six have recorded a game-winning RBI, while five have scored a game-winning run.
>> Nine different players have swiped 19 bases, led by Brandon Thomas’ 5-for-5.
>> Georgia Tech may possess two of the fastest lead-off men in the ACC in Kyle Wren and Brandon Thomas. The pair are gap-robbers in the outfield, and have speed to burn at the top of Tech’s order.
>> Wren hit .412 last week (7-for-17) with six runs, three RBI, and a two-triple game versus Kennesaw State. He was 4-for-5 in the series-opener versus Rutgers with a double, two steals and three RBI.
>> Wren is tied for the ACC lead with three triples, is third in the league in runs scored (16) and tied for fourth in walks (11).
>> With 10 career triples, Wren, a sophomore, ranks tied for 13th all-time at Tech.
>> Thomas is third in the ACC in steals (5-for-5) and is sixth in runs (14). He had a career-best 5-for-5 game versus Rutgers last Friday and for the week, led the club with a .500 average (9-for-18), with three doubles, a triple, six runs and three RBI.
>> Wren, Thomas and Daniel Palka have reached base in every game this season.
TECH TRIPLES WAY INTO RECORD BOOK
>> Kyle Wren had two triples in the Kennesaw State win and Brandon Thomas added one of his own, allowing Tech to match the school record for triples in a game with three.
>> Wren also tied a school record with two triples, matching a mark that had been set 18 previous times — the last by Jeff Rowland vs. Missouri State on March 20, 2010.
>> The school record of three triples had been set 10 previous times, the last coming on April 14, 2010 vs. Georgia.
>> Sophomore Zane Evans, a year removed from a freshman All-America season in which he caught nearly every game for Tech, is proving his worth all over the diamond in 2012.
>> He’s started eight games behind the plate and has made five appearances on the mound with a save and 10 strikeouts in 7.2 innings. His offensive numbers are red-hot, with a .340 average, three doubles, one triple, one home run and 12 RBI.
>> Evans’ first home run of the season was a three-run shot at Georgia Southern (F22) that broke an 8-8 tie in the eighth inning and gave the Jackets the lead for good. He picked up his first career save the Sunday before in a 5-3 win at Winthrop.
>> Evans hit .270 as a rookie with five homers and became Tech’s first everyday freshman starting catcher since Jason Varitek in 1991.
FOR THE DOVE OF THE GAME
>> Junior captain Sam Dove has surged to the top of Tech’s batting average list, thanks in part to multi-hit efforts in four of his last six games. The versatile Dove, who has started every game at three different positions in 2012 (second base, third base and left field), is hitting .404 (ninth in the ACC) and has scored in nine of the last 10 games.
>> Dove has been sizzling since a 3-for-17 (.176) start to the year, and is 16 for his last 30 (.533). That has included four three-hit games, and his only extra-base hit in that span was his first career home run — a three-run bomb in the series-opener versus Rutgers.
>> A walk-on his freshman year, Dove started 48 games in 2011, hit .310, with 18 RBI and was an Academic All-ACC pick.
>> Junior RHP Buck Farmer leads the ACC and is ranked third nationally with 31 strikeouts, and his 14.68 strikeouts per nine innings is also tops in the ACC and third nationally.
>> Farmer, one of three Tech captains, has won his last two starts (2-1), with a 3.32 ERA and 17 hits allowed in 19.0 innings this season.
>> He leads a weekend staff that has been among the most consistent in the ACC this season. He, Matthew Grimes and Dusty Isaacs have already recorded seven wins combined and are averaging nearly six innings per start.
>> The trio own a combined 2.73 ERA in 52.2 innings, with 58 strikeouts, 19 walks and a minuscule .199 opponent batting average.
>> Farmer is fifth in the ACC, averaging 6.33 innings per game, and Isaacs is seventh (6.22).
>> Grimes (2-1) is 18th in the ACC with a 1.80 ERA, and his opponent average of .157 is ninth.
>> Isaacs (3-0) is one four ACC pitchers to have logged three wins to lead the league in that category.
>> Sophomore RHP Dusty Isaacs is continuing a long line of Tech starters who’ve found success in the Sunday role. Already this season, Isaacs is 3-0 and averaging 6.22 innings per start (eighth in the ACC) with a 2.89 ERA.
>> Since 2010, Georgia Tech is 25-5 in the third game of a weekend series (3-0 in 2012, 11-3 in 2011 and 11-2 in 2010).
>> Pitts has made five appearances (two starts) and is 2-1 with a 3.52 ERA in 15.1 innings. The Moultrie, Ga. native has fanned 20 against six walks and opponents are hitting .241 off him.
>> Heddinger (1-0) has made six appearances — all in relief — and totalled seven innings, allowing five singles, no runs with two walks and nine strikeouts.
LUKE’S USING THE FORCE
>> Junior closer and captain Luke Bard, listed on the preseason watch list for the Stopper of the Year Award, has not been scored upon in his six appearances (8.0 IP) this season.
>> In fact, his streak of not allowing an earned run dates back to April 24, 2011 — spanning 12-consecutive appearances and 22.0 innings.
>> Bard has recorded two saves this season, and with 12 in his career, stands tied for ninth on Tech’s career list.
>> A big key to Georgia Tech’s early-season success can be tied to fast starts. The Yellow Jackets are out-scoring the opposition 58-22 over the first four innings, including a 21-7 advantage in the third.
>> Tech is 7-1 when scoring first this season and is 4-0 when scoring in the first inning.
>> The Jackets are closing strong as well, with a 21-7 edge in seventh-inning runs.