Feb. 28, 2008
ATLANTA – The 22nd-ranked Georgia Tech baseball team continues its season-opening 13-game homestand this weekend when it hosts Rutgers (1-1) for a three-game series beginning Friday at 4 p.m. The Yellow Jackets (5-0) and Scarlet Knights will continue the series with a 4 p.m. contest Saturday before concluding Sunday at 1 p.m. The Jackets are coming off a two-game midweek sweep of Georgia Southern where they held the Eagles to just two runs and enter with a perfect 5-0 record following a season-opening sweep of Youngstown State last weekend.
Game Coverage: Saturday’s game can be heard on WREK Radio and a live video broadcast of Sunday’s contest can be found on ACC Select (gatech.playonsports.tv). Live stats for the entire series will be available at Ramblinwreck.com.
Game Promotions: Fans attending Saturday’s men’s basketball game against Wake Forest (which begins at 2 p.m.) may gain entry to the baseball game that afternoon for just $1 by showing their ticket stub. There will also be Georgia Tech drawstring bags given away to the first 150 fans in attendance Saturday afternoon.
Tech is ranked 22nd in the nation in the latest Collegiate Baseball poll after cracking the top-25 preseason poll for the 15th time under head coach Danny Hall.
The Yellow Jacket pitching corps has carried Georgia Tech in 2008, holding opponents to just three runs total through the first five games of the season. Tech returned 2/3 of its weekend rotation of a year ago in addition to both its setup guy and closer on the mound, while also adding multiple talented freshmen to the staff.
Pitching Matchup (Georgia Tech vs. Rutgers)
Friday: LHP David Duncan (1-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Steve Holt (First game in 2008)
Saturday: RHP Eddie Burns (1-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Casey Gaynor (1-0, 1.12)
Sunday: RHP Zach Von Tersch (0-0, 1.50) vs. RHP Matt Giannini (0-1, 8.31)
The Teams of Late
Georgia Tech – The Yellow Jackets are coming off a pair of series sweeps against Youngstown State (three games) and Georgia Southern (two games) to open the 2008 campaign. Three of the five games resulted in shutouts for the Georgia Tech pitching staff, and that staff, under the direction of pitching coach Tom Kinkelaar, has yet to allow more than two runs in a game. Freshmen Deck McGuire, Taylor Wood, Brandon Cumpton and Kevin Jacob all earned time on the mound against Georgia Southern and were quite impressive, holding the Eagles to a combined 1.13 ERA while limiting the Georgia Southern hitters to a .179 batting average. Another freshman, 2B Thomas Nichols, currently leads the team with a .545 average while five other starters are hitting over .350 on the season.
Rutgers – The Scarlet Knights are 1-1 on the season after splitting a doubleheader at Old Dominion last weekend. Rutgers ace Steve Holt will be making his first appearance of the season against the Yellow Jackets after missing his scheduled start on opening weekend due to weather conditions. The Scarlet Knights and Monarchs were scheduled to play a three-game series in Norfolk, Va., but rain postponed the first two games, resulting in the doubleheader that was played Sunday. Jon Gossard and Jarred Jimenez led the Rutgers offense a week ago, hitting .375 at Old Dominion.
Tech vs. the Opponent (Tech leads series, 31-10)
Georgia Tech and Rutgers will square off for the 42nd time in history this Friday when they meet in the first game of a three-game series at Russ Chandler Stadium. Tech leads the series, 31-10, with all 41 contests being played in Atlanta. The Yellow Jackets have won five of the last six games against the Scarlet Knights, with Rutgers’ last win coming in the series finale a year ago. Georgia Tech is 20-6 (.769) against the Scarlet Knights under head coach Danny Hall.
Tech won the first two games of the 2007 series, 18-12 and 10-8, but dropped a 9-5 contest on the final day.
Best Five-Game Span in School History
Over the first five games of the 2008 season, Georgia Tech has given up just three runs total, which ties the school record for fewest runs allowed in a five-game span. The record was previously set early in the 1990 season, but three of the five games were seven-inning contests (two of which were against Rutgers, the Yellow Jackets’ opponent this weekend).
Tech Accomplishes Rare Feat at RCS
Georgia Tech’s 1-0 win against Youngstown State marked just the second time the Yellow Jackets have ever won a 1-0 game at Russ Chandler Stadium, with the first coming in a seven-inning victory over Davidson on March 18, 1989. Georgia Tech then repeated the feat again just two games later with a 1-0 victory over Georgia Southern this past Wednesday.
There have only been four 1-0 games total in history at Russ Chandler Stadium, as the first resulted in a seven-inning loss to Northwestern on March 23, 1985. The Yellow Jackets are now 3-1 in games at RCS with just one run scored between the two teams, and 2-0 in those contests that last the full nine innings.
Starting Rotation Lives Up to Hype Opening Weekend
Georgia Tech’s highly-touted starting weekend rotation, which consists of a pair of 2007 MLB Draft picks (Junior LHP David Duncan and redshirt junior RHP Eddie Burns) as well as a 2007 Northwoods League All-Star (sophomore righty Zach Von Tersch) lived up to the preseason hype it had been receiving by holding Youngstown State to just one run on 12 hits in 19 innings of work on opening weekend. Duncan gave up just two hits in seven innings on opening day to pick up just the second shutout of his career with a 14-0 win and Burns followed Saturday by holding the Penguins scoreless while yielding only six hits. The back-to-back shutouts were Tech’s first since the 2002 NCAA Atlanta Regional and were the first to begin a season since the 1925 campaign. The Yellow Jackets had just two shutouts all of last season, but both were complete-game shutouts – one by Duncan and the other by Burns. Von Tersch gave up just one run on four hits in the series finale to help Tech to the fewest runs given up in a three-game series in nearly 99 years.
Not to be Outdone…
Georgia Tech’s midweek rotation of freshmen Deck McGuire and Brandon Cumpton followed the starting weekend rotation with outstanding outings against Georgia Southern, yielding just two runs while helping Tech to yet another shutout in 2008. Georgia Tech’s 1-0, 10-inning win against the Eagles in the two-game series finale gave Georgia Tech its third shutout this season, one more than the Jackets had in all of 2007.
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 five 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 17 innings while giving up just two runs for a 1.06 ERA
No Bullpen Blues Here
Georgia Tech’s pitching staff has been bolstered by strong efforts from the bullpen this season. That group has yielded just one run in 16 total innings for a 0.56 ERA and a 2-0 record with one save.
Saturday, Feb. 23 – Perhaps overshadowed by the stellar pitching performance on opening weekend was the game-saving play by left fielder Chris House with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. With a runner at second base, Youngstown State’s No. 9 hitter singled through the left side of the infield and, with the runner being waved home, House connected with catcher Jason Haniger, who made the tag at the plate to preserve the 1-0 victory for the Yellow Jackets.
Wednesday, Feb. 27 – With two outs and a runner on second base in the bottom of the 10th inning, Charlie Blackmon broke a scoreless tie against Georgia Southern by dropping a single in front of a diving left fielder to plate Jason Haniger, giving Georgia Tech its second 1-0 victory of the 2008 season.
Freshmen Tested Immediately
Georgia Tech’s opening day starting lineup included two players that graduated from high school less than a year ago – CF Jeff Rowland and SS Derek Dietrich. Another freshman, 2B Thomas Nichols, also played on opening day. He drove in two runs with a pinch-hit triple in his first collegiate at-bat.
Two days later, in the series finale against the Penguins, the Yellow Jackets had four freshmen in the starting lineup in Rowland, Dietrich, Nichols and catcher Cole Leonida.
Could It Be a First?
After starting four freshmen in the series finale against Youngstown State, Yellow Jacket skipper Danny Hall pushed that number to five just two games later. While it may not be that uncommon for five freshmen to appear in a starting lineup every so often the question is … How many times has that occurred when the entire middle of the field is covered by freshmen? In the series finale against Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech had freshmen in center field, at shortstop, at second base, behind the plate AND on the mound. Tech only had upperclassmen on the corners – in the outfield and infield.