March 20, 2008
ATLANTA – No. 17 Georgia Tech will play host to Duke this weekend in a three-game ACC baseball series beginning Friday at 6 p.m. The Yellow Jackets (15-4, 3-3 ACC) and Blue Devils (18-3, 3-3 ACC) also meet Saturday at 2 p.m. before concluding the series Sunday at 1 p.m. The Jackets are coming off midweek wins against Kennesaw State and Mercer while the Blue Devils boast more overall wins than any other team in the league this season following a midweek sweep of Hartford.
Game Coverage: Live video coverage for the entire series will be available on ACC Select (gatech.playonsports.tv). A radio broadcast of Saturday and Sunday’s games can be found on WREK (91.1 FM in Atlanta/www.wrek.org) while live stats for all Georgia Tech baseball games are available at Ramblinwreck.com.
Weekend Promotions: Saturday is Team Day at the ballpark, with all fans arriving in their recreation team jerseys receiving $1 admission to the game. On Sunday, “I Ran the Bases” t-shirts will be given out to youth as they enter the gates on a first come, first serve basis until they are all gone.
The Yellow Jacket pitching corps has carried Georgia Tech in 2008, holding opponents to a .240 batting average. Seven different pitchers have earned wins through the first 19 games of the 2008 season while closer Chris Hicks has collected an ACC-best six saves for the Yellow Jackets.
Pitching Matchup (Georgia Tech vs. Duke)
Friday: LHP David Duncan (2-0, 3.00) vs. RHP Andrew Wolcott (2-0, 2.42)
Saturday: RHP Eddie Burns (2-1, 2.38) vs. RHP Will Currier (2-2, 4.95)
Sunday: RHP Zach Von Tersch (2-0, 1.88) vs. RHP Grant Monroe (3-1, 3.00)
Georgia Tech’s offense is led by freshman CF Jeff Rowland (.392, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 9 SB), senior 3B Brad Feltes (.326-3-15-2), freshman 2B Thomas Nichols (.326-1-13-0) and redshirt junior RF Charlie Blackmon (.324-2-14-6), while a total of eight Yellow Jackets are batting .300 or above in 2008.
The Teams of Late
Georgia Tech – The Yellow Jackets enter the series in search of their first conference victory in two weeks after being swept by the Seminoles in Tallahassee last weekend. The Jackets responded with a pair of midweek wins against Kennesaw State and Mercer and look to continue their winning streak against the Blue Devils. Streaking of Late: Charlie Blackmon is hitting .400 with a home run and six RBI in his current four-game hitting streak … Brad Feltes has hit safely in all but two games this season and had a team-best 12-game hitting streak snapped against Mercer this past Wednesday … Chris Hicks has made six scoreless appearances in 2008 and has five saves in the month of March … Kevin Jacob has given up a run in just one of his five appearances this season … Patrick Long has hit safely in each of the last four games … Luke Murton is hitting .500 in his last four game appearances … Thomas Nichols is hitting .333 in his current six-game hitting streak … Tony Plagman is batting .333 with two home runs in his last three games … Jeff Rowland is hitting .500 and has six stolen bases in his last six games … Taylor Wood has made three scoreless outings in 2008.
Duke – The Blue Devils will hit the road for the first time this season after opening the season with a 21-game homestand. Duke enters Atlanta with an ACC-best 18 victories this season, and a 3-3 mark against league opponents. The Blue Devils, currently on a three-game winning streak, took two of three off the Virginia Cavaliers a week ago and defeated North Carolina, 13-4, in their ACC opener. They have two of the league’s top five hitters in Jeremy Gould (.452-2-22-4) and Alex Hassan (.424-1-16-8) while their pitching staff has held opponents to a 3.00 ERA and a .251 batting average. The Blue Devils starting rotation has combined for seven wins in 2008, while Hassan has recorded a team-best four saves this season.
Tech vs. the Opponent (Tech leads Duke, 74-24)
Georgia Tech is 74-24 all-time against the Blue Devils, and 39-12 against Duke at home. The first game between the two schools occured in 1903, with Tech winning, 10-1, while the last game also resulted in a Yellow Jacket victory, 5-1, in Durham, N.C. The Yellow Jackets also earned a series win against the Blue Devils with that 5-1 win last season after falling, 3-0, to Duke the day before to snap a 20-game winning streak against the Blue Devils. Tech has won seven-straight series against Duke and holds a remarkable 40-8 (.833) record against the Blue Devils since the arrival of head coach Danny Hall in 1994. The last time the Yellow Jackets lost a baseball game at home to Duke was March 26, 2000, with the Blue Devils earning a 4-3 win at Russ Chandler Stadium. Tech has swept each of the last three home series against the Blue Devils.
Former Teammates Square Off This Weekend
When the Yellow Jackets and Blue Devils meet this weekend, the hitters on both sides will be led by former Yellow Jackets, as Georgia Tech’s offense is currently coached by Bryan Prince, a standout catcher and two-time All-ACC honoree from 1998 through 2001, and Duke’s hitters are coached by former Academic All-American Matthew Boggs, an infielder/outfielder on the Flats from 1998 through 2002. Boggs led the Yellow Jackets to the 2002 College World Series and hit .337 with 110 RBI and 41 stolen bases in his career while Prince hit .353 with 24 home runs and 216 RBI before being drafted by the Reds in the 10th round of the 2001 MLB Draft. Prince is in his first year as the Yellow Jackets’ hitting coach and is the first former player to return to Tech in that role since Cam Bonifay did so in 1998, while Boggs is in his third year at Duke.
Starting Five off to Stellar Start
Since the 2002 season, Georgia Tech has no fewer than 14 former starting pitchers that have been selected in the MLB Draft. The starting rotations – encompassing both weekend and midweek – from each of the six previous seasons (2002-07) have been some of the best in history, but perhaps none are better than the Yellow Jacket starting rotation of 2008, which has combined for a 2.48 ERA while holding opponents to a .215 average through the first 19 games of the season. The have also been a part of five shutouts this season, the most since Tech had six in all of 2002.
Assistant coach Tom Kinkelaar is in his first season serving as the pitching coach for Georgia Tech, and his staff has been exceptional through the first 19 games of the season. Tech had a talented group of returnees to the pitching staff, and while Kinkelaar has worked to fine-tune the mechanics of Tech’s upperclassmen, perhaps more impressive has been his work with the freshmen on this year’s staff.
Four freshmen have taken the mound for the Jackets in 2008, working a total of 58.0 innings while giving up just 20 runs for a 3.10 ERA. They have been a part of a shutout on seven collective occasions in 2008, and each freshman listed has been a part of at least one shutout this season. They are also averaging 8.69 strikeouts per nine innings (0.97 per inning) while opponents are hitting a low .227 against them
Freshmen Lead Tech Offense
Tech’s freshman class has also made a big impact on the offensive success of the Yellow Jackets in 2008, as they are hitting a class-best .323 through the first 19 games this season. Jeff Rowland, Georgia Tech’s top hitter in 2008, headlines that freshman class with a .392 average while Derek Dietrich (.304), Chase Burnette (.500), Thomas Nichols (.323), Cole Leonida (.105) and Rowland have combined to go 63-for-195 with nine home runs and 42 RBI this season.