April 16, 2013
THE FLATS – Daniel Palka smashed two home runs, Mitch Earnest hit a grand slam, and No. 16 Georgia Tech scored seven times in the first inning en route to a 14-1 win over Savannah State at Russ Chandler Stadium Tuesday night. Palka and Earnest each finished the night 3-for-4.
The Yellow Jackets’ 14 runs were the most since a 14-9 win at Virginia Tech on March 9, and Tech reached double-digit runs for the 15th time this season, but first since a 10-0 win at Florida State on March 11. Tech improved to 8-2 in midweek games and is now 27-10 overall. The Tigers slipped to 21-16.
The hosts did their damage with two outs in the first inning, getting a two-run blast to left from Zane Evans to open the scoring and a solo shot from Palka to right for a 3-0 lead. A pair of errors would keep the inning alive, and Tech loaded the bases ahead of Earnest, who hammered the grand slam off the net beyond the left-field fence for a 7-0 advantage.
Earnest’s grand slam was the team’s third this season, and the junior becomes the second Jacket this year to make his first career homer a grand slam. Sophomore A.J. Murray did it March 1 versus Rutgers.
Earnest finished the night 3-for-4, with a double, a grand slam, four RBI and two runs. He also threw out a Tiger base-stealer in the first inning – just the 22nd Savannah State runner thrown out this season. The team came in as one of the nation’s best base-stealing teams at 95 steals in 116 attempts.
“We had planned to pitch a lot of guys tonight, but it was nice to get that early lead and get everyone some at bats,” said head coach Danny Hall. “Zane started it, Palka jumped in there a couple times and Mitch has been swinging the bat really well. He’s is a great team-guy and has honestly played pretty well. He threw a guy out early and I’m proud of the way he works and goes about his business.”
The five home runs were a season-high and the most since hitting five versus Boston College on May 20, 2010.
Tech used seven pitchers in the game, and starter Jonathan King tossed the first two innings on a pre-determined staff day and was awarded the win. He allowed two hits and a run with four strikeouts and improved to 3-2. Six relievers limited SSU to four hits over the final seven innings.
Palka launched a two-run blast to right in the second inning, marking his first career multi-homer game and tying him with Evans for the ACC lead with 11. It is the second time this year a Jacket has homered on consecutive at-bats after Evans did it versus Georgia Southern on Feb. 26 in Statesboro.
Palka added an RBI single in the fifth inning and the lead ballooned to 13-1 in the seventh when Mott Hyde lifted a two-run blast to left and Brandon Thomas followed later with a sacrifice fly. Michael Hodorowski’s RBI single in the eighth inning capped the scoring.
All 17 active position players on the roster saw action in Tuesday’s game.
David Richards was 2-for-3 for Savannah State and drove in Joseph McCreary in the second inning. McCreary finished 3-for-4 and hit his 11th double. Both Richards and McCreary are natives of nearby Stone Mountain, Ga.
Tech returns to action this weekend with an ACC series versus NC State at Russ Chandler Stadium. The series is underway Friday at 3 p.m. and all three games can be seen live on ESPN3.