March 29, 2013
THE FLATS – Daniel Palka finished 4-for-5 with his 30th career home run and Buck Farmer gave No. 16 Georgia Tech another gem in his 30th career win as the Yellow Jackets defeated Wake Forest, 5-1, Friday night at Russ Chandler Stadium in the opener of an ACC series.
Tech trailed 1-0 in the sixth before pounding out four runs on five hits in the frame, and tacking on insurance in the seventh en route to its 20th victory this season (20-5, 7-3). Wake slipped to 15-13, 3-7.
With rain in the forecast on Sunday, the teams will play a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 1 p.m. Both games can be seen on ESPN3.
Farmer improved to 6-0 with another strong effort over seven innings. He limited the Demon Deacons to just five hits with six strikeouts and the only run against him was a lead-off home run from Kevin Jordan in the third inning. Jordan finished the night 2-for-3 with a walk.
“He really pitched out of trouble and he didn’t get rattled,” said head coach Danny Hall, who saw his ace lower his ERA to 1.34 this season. “I felt early we hit a couple balls hard and (Pirro) kept getting out of jams. But we got some momentum late and Palka had a great night.”
Wake starter Matt Pirro kept the Yellow Jackets at arm’s length over the first five innings and took a 1-0 lead into the sixth. But Pirro allowed consecutive singles to Sam Dove and Palka before a four-pitch walk to Zane Evans loaded the bases and ended his night.
Reliever Jack Fischer issued a four-pitch walk to A.J. Murray that knotted the game at 1-1 and Matt Gonzalez followed with an RBI single to give Tech the lead. Another run came home on a double-play ball and Mott Hyde ripped an RBI single for a 4-1 advantage.
The Jackets sent 10 batters to plate in the decisive sixth inning, and reloaded the bases before Fischer got Dove looking for the final out.
Farmer had to work himself out of some trouble Friday, leaving two stranded in the third after he fanned Pat Blair and then left two more on in the sixth. Wake’s biggest threat came in the seventh as the visitors loaded the bases with two outs before a line drive to center was snagged by Kyle Wren for the final out.
On the game’s next pitch, Palka hammered a line-drive home run over the wall in right for his sixth homer of the season, the 30th of his career and his second in as many games. Tech is now 23-7 in games when Palka goes yards.
Working with a four-run advantage, reliever Alex Cruz got consecutive strikeouts in the eighth to leave two Deacons in scoring position and the game ended when Wren tracked down a fly ball deep in the right-field gap and doubled off Evan Stephens at first.
“Alex looked more like Alex tonight and Kyle really made a great play to end the game,” said Hall.
Palka’s four hits matched a career high he’s set on four different occasions — three of them have come this season. Wren was 2-for-3 with a pair of walks and extended his hitting streak to an ACC-best 14 games. Gonzalez and Hyde also had two-hit nights.
Pirro (3-4) absorbed the loss for Wake Forest, allowing three runs on six hits in five innings.
The Jackets announced before the game that starting senior center fielder Brandon Thomas would be out indefinitely with mononucleosis. Farmer was hitting an ACC-best .441.