Feb. 17, 2011
ATLANTA – The Georgia Tech baseball team, ranked as high as No. 19 in the preseason polls, hosts Kent State, the 2010 Mid-American Conference regular season champions and tournament champions, on Opening Day, Friday, Feb. 18 at Russ Chandler Stadium. First pitch will be at 4 p.m., and the series will continue Saturday at 2 p.m. before concluding Sunday at 1 p.m.
Pitching Matchup (Georgia Tech vs. Kent State)
Georgia Tech returns 17 letterwinners from its 2010 squad, including four starters (two position players and two pitchers) – INF/C Matt Skole (.336-20-63-1), 2B Jacob Esch (.284-3-38-2), LHP Jed Bradley (9-5, 4.83) and RHP Mark Pope (8-1, 3.76).
Georgia Tech opens its 18th season under head coach Danny Hall on Friday …Tech is 61-47-3 all-time in seasonopeners and 42-21-2 when the season opener occurs at home. GeorgiaTech and Kent State will face each other for the first time sincethe 2003 season… The Jackets lead the all-time series … Thelast three head coaches to lead the Kent State program –Danny Halland Rick Rembielak from Tech, and Scott Stricklin Kent State — will all set foot on the diamondthis weekend when the Yellow Jackets face the Golden Flashes. (Moreon page two). The Flashes welcome back seven starting positionplayers and three starting pitchers from a 2010 squad that went39-25, won the MAC regular season and tournament title, andappeared in the NCAA Los Angeles regional… The Golden Flashesenter the 2011 campaign ranked 40th in Collegiate Baseball’sFabulous 40 NCAA Division I Preseason poll. Kent State is the onlyMAC program to receive a spot in the poll…Kent State is coachedby Scott Stricklin, who is in his sixth season with the program.
Georgia Tech is ranked in the top-25 by three different majorpolls — No. 19 by Collegiate Baseball and USA Today/ESPN coaches,and No. 21 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers AssociationPoll. In 2010, the Jackets were one of the biggest power-hittingteams in the country. The group belted a school-record 122 homeruns – the second most in the nation – and won 28 games by fiveruns or more. Junior Matt Skole, a 2011 Louisville Slugger preseason All-Americanbecame just the 12th player in school history to belt at least 20home runs in a season when he did so in 2010. Junior pitchersMark Pope and Jed Bradley, along with sophomore Buck Farmer will make up the weekend rotation in 2011. Pope andBradley combined for 17 wins and 172 strikeouts as sophomorestarters in 2010. Both hurlers have gained early preseason nationalattention, each being named to Preseason All-America teams, as wellas top-100 college prospects by Baseball America. After tying aschool-record with 10 selections in June’s MLB first-year playerdraft, the Jackets will have to cope with the loss of sevenunderclassmen to professional contracts. Included in that groupwere 2010 All-Americans Deck McGuire and Derek Dietrich. Tech’s freshman class consisting of 17newcomers, six of which were also selected in the 2010 MLB draft,was ranked as high the No. 6 recruiting class in the nation. CoachHall has indicated that up to six newcomers could possibly start onopening day.
The GT radio broadcast can be heard over the air on WREK (91.1), the flagship station of Georgia Tech baseball, and online at RamblinWreck.com.
GEORGIA TECH IN SEASON OPENERS
Georgia Tech is to 61-47-3 in season openers and 42-21-2 when the season opener occurs at home. The Yellow Jackets have fared well in season openers under head coach Danny Hall, posting a 13-4 record in such games since his arrival prior to the 1994 season. Tech has opened the season at home on just seven occasions under Hall, going 6-1 in those contests. However, 2011 marks the fourth straight season that Georgia Tech has opened the season at home.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENT
The Flashes bring back a lot of weapons offensively, including five of the top six hitters in the lineup. Leading the way is senior outfielder Ben Klafcynski, a Granger Township, Ohio native, who batted .367 with 27 doubles, 10 home runs, 62 RBIs and 66 runs scored as a junior in 2010.
The pitching staff will be just as strong for Kent State, returning two of its three weekend starters — junior David Starn (7-3, 88.1 IP, 5.09 ERA, 76 K’s) and senior Kyle Hallock (8-5, 83.0 IP, 5.64 ERA, 69 K’s)– and a deep bullpen that had three pitchers with at least 19 appearances in 2010. Also returning is 2009 freshman All-American Andrew Chafin, who missed the 2010 season after suffering an injury. Chafin recorded 75 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings, while posting a 1.26 ERA two years ago.
GT-KENT STATE CONNECTIONS
The last three head coaches to lead the Kent State program will all set foot on the diamond this weekend when the Yellow Jackets face the Golden Flashes. Tech skipper Danny Hall was the head coach at Kent State from 1988-1993, taking the program to its first two trips to the NCAA tournament in school history…Current volunteer assistant coach Rick Rembielak manned the ship in Kent from 1994-2004, and remains the all-time winningest coach of any sport in Golden Flashes history with a career record of 373-251-1 (.597)… Kent State head coach Scott Stricklin took over after Rembielak in 2004…Stricklin was a catcher for coach Hall and Rembielak (then an assistant) from 1991-93, then an assistant for Hall at Tech from 2001-03. Kent State has no players on its roster from Georgia…Georgia Tech has one player on its roster from Ohio, freshman pitcher Dusty Isaacs (Lebanon, Ohio).
NEW NCAA BAT RESTRICTIONS FOR 2011
New for the 2011 season, the NCAA will only allow bats certified to the Ball-Bat Coefficient Restitution (BBCOR) to be used during competition. The new performance standard will make all non-wood bats perform more like wood bats, thus reducing the total number of home runs hit at the collegiate level. The biggest change is a smaller sweet spot on the bat, and the reducing off the speed of the ball off the bat. The new restriction could have an effect on Georgia Tech’s power numbers, as the 2010 squad belted a school-record 122 home runs, the second most in the nation.
ACC COACHES PICK TECH TO FINISH SECOND IN THE COASTAL RACE
The 19th-ranked Georgia Tech baseball team was picked to finish second in the Coastal Division race according to the 2011 ACC Preseason Coaches Poll, voted on by the league’s 12 head coaches. Atlantic Division leader Clemson was the overall favorite, finishing with seven overall first-place votes and 68 points in the Atlantic Division. Defending ACC Champion Florida State was second with three overall votes, and 64 points in the same division. The Yellow Jackets (56 points) followed Virginia (69) in the Coastal standings.
TECH CAMPUS HOSTS NEGRO BASEBALL LEAGUES MUSEUM EXHIBIT
As a part of the 50th anniversary of the matriculation of black students at Georgia Tech, the steering committee along with the GT Athletic Association are bringing the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum exhibition entitled “Shades of Greatness – Art Inspired by Negro Leagues Baseball” to the GT library on campus. The exhibit, which contains about 35 works in the show featuring various themes and stories from Negro league history, is here from Feb. 11 to March 20. It is located in the library’s Neely Gallery room, and is open to the public.