April 30, 2001
ATLANTA — The 11th-ranked Georgia Tech baseball team takes the week off for spring semester final exams before hosting Charleston Southern for a three-game non-conference series this weekend in what will mark the final regular season games at the current Russ Chandler Stadium. The Yellow Jackets, who spent the first six weeks of the season as the No. 1 team in the nation, are currently ranked No. 11 in this week’s Baseball America poll.
Tech and Charleston Southern will play Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. each day, and on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. The series will be the final regular season games played at Russ Chandler Stadium, which will be torn down and replaced with a new 5,000 seat, state of the art facility following the conclusion of the 2001 season.
All three games this weekend will be broadcast live on WREK-Radio (91.1 FM in Atlanta) and on the internet at www.ramblinwreck.com.
Tech’s overall record stands at 33-14 overall and 12-9 in the Atlantic Coast Conference after winning two of three games against first-place Florida State last weekend. The Seminoles (15-3 ACC) still stand atop the ACC standings, and are followed by Wake Forest (16-8), Clemson (12-6) and Tech, while Duke (9-11), Virginia (9-12), NC State (8-13), North Carolina (7-14) and Maryland (4-15) round out the league.
“The Florida State series was one that gave us a lot of confidence,” said Tech head coach Danny Hall, the 2000 Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year. *They are way out in front in the league race and nobody had won a series from them in the conference this year. We need to use it as a confidence builder and realize that we can play at a high level.
“With exams this week, we are going to take Monday and Tuesday off to give the guys a chance to get their schoolwork in order for final exams. The things that kept us from play as good have been all the little things that I think you need to do if you are going to be successful. Those are the types of things that I want to concentrate on during this week off.”
Marking the final regular season games at the “Rusty C,” several special activities are planned for the weekend series against Charleston Southern.
“I hope that it isn’t the last games at Russ Chandler Stadium, because I want our team to be in a position to be able to host a NCAA Regional,” said Hall. *But if it is the last games at the stadium, then it will be very sentimental for me. There have been a lot of fond memories for me there over the last eight years, memories of players and teams that will last a lifetime.”
All-America third baseman Mark Teixeira (Severna Park, Md.), .500, 4 HR, 11 RBI, continues his rehab work after suffering a broken right ankle on Feb. 23. Teixeira, who has been in uniform for the last two weeks, had hoped to play as early as last weekend against Florida State. Still working to regain lateral mobility in his ankle, however, Teixeira did not play last weekend although he did continue to take batting practice and ground balls at third base.
“Mark is progressing very well,” said Hall. “On Sunday he was able to do a lot of things laterally that he wasn’t able to do prior, and that’s an encouraging sign. The doctors have said that Mark’s bone is totally healed and he is cleared to play as soon as he feels comfortable running on his ankle. We will have to wait and see how he feels this week [to determine his availability for this weekend], but I know that he is anxious to get back into the lineup.”
In the meantime, junior Victor Menocal (Gainesville, Ga.), .379-4-45, has moved from shortstop to third base while junior Richard Lewis (Marietta, Ga.), .365-9-49, slid over to shortstop from second base. Redshirt junior Matthew Boggs (Dalton, Ga.), .320-0-25, who began the season in the outfield after starting at second base in 1998 and 1999, has returned to his old position at second base. Junior college transfer Brian Jackson (Tifton, Ga.), .340-0-10, has also seen action at third base and is the primary backup at the position.
Moving Boggs back to the infield has opened the door for Hall to get some other bats into the lineup, particularly freshman Matt Murton (McDonough, Ga.), .358-6-30, and senior Brad Stockton (Marietta, Ga.), .342-6-33.
Sophomore Jason Perry (Jonesboro, Ga.), .326-10-39, rounds out the Tech infield at first base, while veteran senior Derik Goffena (Sidney, Ohio), .297-0-12, has seen part time action against left-handed pitching at first base and DH.
Senior Jason Basil (West Chester, Ohio), .324-10-49, and junior Wes Rynders (Marietta, Ga.), .277-2-20, who start in right and center field respectively, make up the remainder of the outfield.
Senior Bryan Prince (Ft. Oglethorpe, Ga.), .380-5-53, is Tech’s everyday catcher after being limited to DH duty during the end of February and early March with a sore shoulder. Sophomore catcher Tyler Parker (Marietta, Ga.), .327-1-16, suffered a broken right thumb after being hit by a pitch on Feb. 28, but he since returned to the field. Parker, however, was struck by a foul ball while behind the plate on Apr. 14, just one week after returning from the broken thumb, which resulted in a hairline fracture in his right forearm and will sit out for one more week before returning to practice.
As a team, the Tech offense is batting a collective .341 after hitting a school-record .342. Tech, which is averaging 9.7 runs per game, ranks in the top five in the nation in both batting and scoring.
On the mound, freshman southpaw Kyle Bakker (Omaha, Neb.), 4-0, 2.18, has stepped into the weekend starting rotation and has produced immediate results. The 6’9 Bakker is undefeated in four starts against teams that made the NCAA Tournament last spring (Georgia Southern, Auburn, Clemson and Florida State), and he has allowed just one earned run in his last 22 innings (0.41 ERA).
“Kyle Bakker is a competitor and he knows how to win,” said Hall. “He’s never afraid out there and that has translated into outstanding performances. In two weeks time, he’s beaten Auburn, Clemson and Florida State — all top 20 teams — and I think that says it all about him.”
A pair of junior right handers in Steve Kelly (Fairfield, Ohio), 6-2, 3.81 ERA, and Rhett Parrott (Dalton, Ga.), 7-4, 5.19 join Bakker in the rotation. Kelly paces the staff with 85.1 innings pitched and two complete games this spring, while Parrott ranks among the ACC leaders with seven victories. Kelly, Parrott and Bakker are the likely starters for the Charleston Southern series this weekend.
The Tech bullpen is led by sophomore closer Jeff Watchko (Roswell, Ga.), 0-3, 2.51, 6 SV, who is already tied for sixth place in Yellow Jacket history with 12 career saves. Senior Andy Mitchell (Conyers, Ga.), 1-1, 4.41, 2 SV, is Tech’s most experienced member of the bullpen, while the remainder of staff is rounded out by junior righty Kevin Cameron (Joliet, Ill.), 5-2, 5.09, 2 SV, sophomore righty Philip Perry (Marietta, Ga.), 2-2, 7.61, freshman righties Brian Burks (Alpharetta, Ga.), 3-0, 3.38, 1 SV, and Matt Lorenzo (Hartville, Ohio) 3-0, 2.30, and rookie southpaw Aaron Walker (East Palestine, Ohio), 0-0, 9.72.
As a team, Tech pitchers combined for a 2.38 ERA in four games last week while holding opponents to a .238 batting average despite posting just a 2-2 record. The Yellow Jackets bounced back after allowing 39 runs in three games to Wake Forest the week prior.
SERIES VS. CHARLESTON SOUTHERN
Georgia Tech leads the series with Charleston Southern, 9-1, with all nine games played at Russ Chandler Stadium in the last six years. Most recently, Tech swept a two-game series from the Buccaneers in 2000. Charleston Southern’s lone win in the series was a 10-4 win in February of 1998.
GEORGIA TECH BASEBALL THIS WEEK:
Fri.: CHARLESTON SOUTHERN*, 7 p.m.
Sat.: CHARLESTON SOUTHERN*, 7 p.m.
Sun.: CHARLESTON SOUTHERN*, 1:30 p.m.
*Radio broadcast on WREK (91.1 FM)
All Times Eastern