April 3, 2008
ATLANTA – No. 14 Georgia Tech (24-5, 8-4 ACC) returns to Atlantic Coast Conference action this weekend when it travels to Cary, N.C. to take on the third-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels (23-5, 8-3 ACC) in a three-game series to be held at the USA Baseball National Training Complex. Game times for the series are 7 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
The Yellow Jackets are coming off a midweek sweep of East Tennessee State and have won seven-straight, and 11 of their last 12, while the Tar Heels are winners of seven of their last eight games following a pair of wins over UNC Greensboro and Appalachian State during the week.
Game Coverage: The entire series can be heard on WREK Radio (91.1 FM in Atlanta/www.wrek.org), while Sunday’s game can also be found on ACC Select (gatech.playonsports.tv). Live stats for all Georgia Tech baseball games are available at Ramblinwreck.com.
Updated Game Times: Georgia Tech’s game at North Carolina this Saturday (Apr. 5) has been moved to a 2 p.m. first pitch due to the Tar Heels’ appearance in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four … The Jackets’ Sunday game at Maryland (Apr. 20) has been pushed up 30 minutes to accomodate TV – First pitch will now be at 12:30 p.m. and the game will be aired by CSTV … Another game time that has changed because of TV is the Saturday game vs. Coastal Carolina on May 3. First pitch for that game is now scheduled for 4 p.m.
The Yellow Jacket pitching corps is holding opponents to a .237 batting average, as eight different pitchers have earned wins through the first half of the 2008 season. Closer Chris Hicks has collected a team-best seven saves for the Yellow Jackets and relievers Brad Rulon and Andrew Robinson have combined for 24 scoreless appearances in relief this season.
Pitching Matchup (Georgia Tech vs. North Carolina)
Friday: LHP David Duncan (4-0, 3.38) vs. RHP Alex White (4-2, 2.37)
Saturday: RHP Eddie Burns (4-1, 2.02) vs. RHP Adam Warren (4-0, 4.40)
Sunday: RHP Zach Von Tersch (3-1, 2.78) vs. RHP Matt Harvey (4-1, 1.01)
Georgia Tech’s offense is led by freshman leadoff hitter and CF Jeff Rowland (.364, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 12 SB), freshman SS Derek Dietrich (.359-10-33-3), redshirt junior RF Charlie Blackmon (.327-2-20-10) and senior 3B/DH Brad Feltes (.309-7-32-2).
The Teams of Late
Georgia Tech – The Yellow Jackets enter the weekend on a hot streak, winning their last seven games by outscoring opponents 68-21 over the last 10 days. Tech rallied from a 6-2 deficit on Tuesday to defeat East Tennessee State, 13-6, and held on after taking a 5-0 lead Wednesday to complete the sweep of the Buccaneers with a 5-4 victory. The Jackets have also been on a hot streak in ACC play, sweeping Boston College a week ago and winning five of their last six after being swept by the Seminoles in Tallahassee in mid-March. The Yellow Jackets have three players with seven or more home runs this season, led by freshman Derek Dietrich, who has a team-best 10 HR and 33 RBI in 2008.
North Carolina – The Tar Heels split a rain-shortened, two-game series with NC State last weekend and are a half-game ahead of Georgia Tech in the Coastal Division standings in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but third overall behind Atlantic Division leader Florida State (11-1 ACC) and Coastal Division leader Miami (9-1). North Carolina has been excellent both with the bat and on the mound in 2008, as Tar Heel hitters are batting .329 while the pitchers are limiting opponents to a .236 average and own a 2.21 ERA.
Tech vs. the Opponent (Tech leads, 59-49)
The Yellow Jackets hold a narrow 59-49 lead on the Tar Heels in a series that dates to the 1901 season. Georgia Tech has faced North Carolina 40 times on their home field, with UNC taking 21 wins to the Jackets’ 19.
The Jackets and Tar Heels have squared off 50 times since the arrival of head coach Danny Hall in 1994, with Georgia Tech holding the 30-20 edge in the series under the Yellow Jacket skipper.
The two teams last met in the opening game of the 2007 ACC Championship, with Georgia Tech winning, 8-4, at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, Fla. The Tar Heels won the three-game series last season in Chapel Hill, 2-1, and North Carolina is the first of two intra-division rivals that Georgia Tech has to make return trips to this season – the other is Virginia to end the 2008 regular season.
The home team has won the series each of the last four years, and in seven of the last eight seasons. Tech’s last series win at North Carolina came in 2003, with Tech taking two of three from the Tar Heels. The last time there was a sweep in the series was in 2000, when the Jackets won all three games in Atlanta.
The Yellow Jacket offense has already hit 40 home runs through the first half of the 2008 season, which stands just 10 shy of what Georgia Tech hit in all of 2007. Tech’s 40 home runs stands second only to Florida State in the Atlantic Coast Conference totals.
The Jackets have also been blessed with a balance of power in 2008, as three different players have hit seven home runs already this season. Derek Dietrich leads Tech with 10 home runs while Tony Plagman and Brad Feltes have added eight and seven, respectively.
Keeping it Under 4
Georgia Tech’s team ERA is 3.27 entering the weekend at North Carolina, marking the lowest ERA for a Yellow Jacket pitching staff under head coach Danny Hall.
The last time Tech pitchers finished the season with an ERA under 4.00 was in 1994, when the Jackets concluded the year as CWS Runner-ups as the staff posted a remarkable 3.92 ERA.
The last time the Yellow Jackets had a sub-3.27 ERA was in 1993, when Tech pitchers finished the season with a 3.13 ERA.
Holding Them to 6 or Less
Georgia Tech is 24-0 on the season when holding opponents to six or fewer runs, but when Yellow Jacket pitchers have allowed seven or more runs, Tech is 0-5.
Weekend Rotation Sets the Tone
The Yellow Jackets’ talented weekend rotation of 2005 and 2007 MLB Draft pick David Duncan, 2007 MLB Draft pick Eddie Burns and 2006 MLB Draft pick Zach Von Tersch have been outstanding through the first half of the season, combining for an 11-2 record with a 2.75 ERA and 99 strikeouts. Collectively, the trio is holding opponents to a .222 average while each has been a part of a shutout in 2008.
Yellow Jacket relief pitchers Brad Rulon and Andrew Robinson headline an excellent Georgia Tech bullpen in 2008 by combining for 24 scoreless appearances this season. The duo has shared duties as Tech’s seventh, eighth, and even ninth-inning pitcher, as Rulon has recorded three saves this year and Robinson has added another.
Throughout the season, the tandem has pitched in the same game on 10 occasions, with Georgia Tech holding a 9-1 record in those contests. Rulon has made five-consecutive scoreless appearances entering this weekend, while Robinson has appeared in six-straight games without allowing a run.
For the season, Rulon and Robinson are a combined 5-1 with 3.05 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 38.1 innings of work. They are holding opponents to a .222 batting average.
Feltes Caps Career with Big Finish
Entering the 2008 season, senior third baseman Brad Feltes had a career average of .213 and had hit just two doubles, one triple and seven home runs while posting 29 RBI in his three years on the Flats. The Alpharetta, Ga. native’s offense has come alive, however, in his final year on the Flats, as he has already doubled his career home run and RBI marks with seven home runs and 32 RBI in 2008, and season is just over halfway over. Feltes is also hitting .309 and has two stolen bases on the season – the first two of his collegiate career.