April 6, 2013
DURHAM, N.C. – In a series where runs have been at a premium, No. 15 Georgia Tech got strong late-game relief from Jonathan King and Zane Evans, while Thomas Smith’s RBI single in the eighth inning was the game-winner in a 2-1 victory at Duke Saturday to even the series.
King retired seven of the eight batters he faced in 2.2 innings of scoreless relief to pick up the win, and Evans, who ripped an RBI single in the third, finished off the Blue Devils in the ninth to nail down his second save in Tech’s third one-run win this season.
Kyle Wren beat out bunt singles in the first and ninth innings to extend his hitting streak to an ACC-leading 20 games, while Sam Dove walked three times and scored Tech’s first run. Daniel Palka doubled and scored in the eighth inning. Wren and Palka have at least one hit in every ACC game this season.
The victory improved the Yellow Jackets to 23-8 overall and 9-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Duke slipped to 18-14, 7-7. The rubber game is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday at Jack Coombs Field in Durham.
The reigning ACC Pitcher of the Week, junior righty Dusty Isaacs gave the Jackets another strong start by going 5.1 innings with five hits, one run, one walk and four strikeouts. His only trouble came in the second as Duke scratched across its lone run.
“I thought he did a great job today and that’s back-to-back starts he’s thrown the ball very well,” said head coach Danny Hall of Isaacs. “We do need him to step up and he’s done that for us the last two weekends. Then King came in and did a good and Evans got the last two outs. We scuffled offensively, but won it with our pitching.”
Isaacs appeared to be out of the second inning in order, but a high fly ball to right from Kenny Koplove was lost in the sun and dropped in for a double to keep the inning alive. Duke cashed in when Ryan Munger singled behind him for a 1-0 lead.
Tech though, answered right back in the third as back-to-back walks to Sam Dove and Daniel Palka opened the door for Evans to shoot an RBI single through the right side and tie the game. It was Tech’s first run of the series and snapped an 0-for-12 by the Jackets with runners in scoring position.
With the game tied, Isaacs settled in and retired eight straight Blue Devils before a one-out single by Mark Lumpa in the fifth. Evans erased him trying to swipe second with a 2-4 caught stealing, and Isaacs left Andy Perez stranded at second following his bases-empty double.
King emerged from the bullpen after Isaacs plunked Grant McCabe with one in the sixth and shut the door on Duke. He worked a fly ball and strikeout to strand McCabe at first, and then retired the side in the seventh on just seven pitches.
Palka got things going for Tech in the eighth, hammering a lead-off double to the right-field gap – the Jackets’ first extra-base hit of the series – and Evans walked behind him to put two on and no out. Matt Gonzalez’s fly ball to center moved Palka to third and, later, with two outs, Smith chopped a single between short and second. Koplove snagged it up the middle, but had no play and Palka scored as the go-ahead run.
With Tech leading for the first time this series, King retired the home half of the eighth in order and turned the game over to Evans in the ninth after walking the lead-off man. A sac bunt moved McCabe to second, but Evans got fly-ball outs from Chris Marconcini and Matt Berezo to close out the victory.
For Evans, the save was his second this year and ninth of his career, but first since Opening Day. King improved to 2-2.