March 7, 2011
ATLANTA – Coming off a weekend series sweep of Rutgers, the Georgia Tech baseball team will play host to Kennesaw State on Tuesday at Russ Chandler Stadium. The Yellow Jackets (8-4), ranked as high as No. 18 in Perfect Game Top-25 Poll, and the Owls (9-2) will play at 6 p.m.
Pitching Matchup (Georgia Tech vs. Kennesaw State)
RHP Matthew Grimes (1-1, 4.76, 11.1 IP, 13 SO) vs. RHP Travis Dean (1-0, 4.50, 6.0 IP, 5 SO)
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.
Live stats for all home games and most road games will be available on RamblinWreck.com to both media and fans. Click the GameTracker logo on the website to see play-by-play, player/team stats and much more.
Georgia Tech (8-4) enters the series ranked as high as No. 18in the Perfect Game Top-25 poll. The Jackets are also ranked in theCollegiate Baseball (24), Baseball America (25) and NCBWA (25)polls. Tech is coming off its first series sweep of the season,winning three games against Rutgers over the weekend. Friday’s gamewill be just the 15 all-time meeting between the two schools.Kennesaw State returns 10 starters (five position players and fivepitchers) from a 2010 team that went 23-32 and finished eighth inthe Atlantic Sun Conference. The Owls (9-2) are coming off a seriessweep of A-Sun opponent Campbell at home over the weekend, theirfirst conference series sweep since the 2009 season Kennesaw Stateis batting .293 as a team, led by Ethan Herron (.429) and RonnieFreeman (.400) … Freeman carries a nation-leading 40-game hitstreak into Tuesday’s game.
Georgia Tech leads the all-time series with an 11-3 record after splitting with the Owls in 2010. Ten of the 14 games have been played on the Flats, with the Jackets holding a 10-1 edge at Russ Chandler Stadium. Head coach Danny Hall is 10-2 against the Owls in since arriving on the Flats in 1994. Last Meeting: Mark Pope scattered four hits over a then career-high eight innings, while Matt Skole and Chase Burnette hit home runs to lead the second-ranked Georgia Tech baseball team over Kennesaw State, 8-2, on April 6, 2010 at Russ Chandler Stadium.
Georgia Tech ranks second in the Atlantic Coast Conference inbatting average (.337), and third in team ERA (.217). The Techhitters lead the league in hits with 143 on the season. FreshmanKyle Wren ranks fifth in the conference in batting average witha .426 clip, while tied for the lead in hits with 20. Joining Wrenin the ACC’s list of top-10 batting averages are sophomore Brandon Thomas (9th, .415) and junior Matt Skole (10th, .410). Freshman Daniel Palka is tied for the conference lead with four homeruns on the season. Palka has homered in three-straight games, andhas combined with Skole for all seven the Jackets’ home runs on theyear. Junior Mark Pope (3-0), the Jackets Friday starter, leads the ACC inERA at 0.42. Pope has allowed just one earned run all season, andhas tossed 16.2 consecutive scoreless innings since last allowing arunner to cross the plate in the season opener on Feb. 18.
WEEKEND ROTATION OFF TO A GREAT START
Georgia Tech’s weekend rotation of Mark Pope, Jed Bradley and Buck Farmer has gotten off to a strong start this season. The 1-2-3 punch is holding a combined 1.67 ERA, having allowed just 10 earned runs in 54 innings. Pope leads the way with a 0.42 earned run average, and has yielded just one earned run all year. Bradley leads the crew in strikeouts with 27, while Farmer (20) and Pope (19) aren’t far behind.
Freshman Kyle Wren has been the “table-setter” for the very young Yellow Jacket squad in 2011. Tech’s leadoff man leads the team in batting average (.426), runs scored (13) and hits (20), while tied at the top in steals (4). He opened his career on an eight-game hit streak and has hit safely in 11 of the 12 games played. The freshman centerfielder has also been phenomenal on defense, making an incredible catch, crashing into the wall, against St. John’s on Feb. 27.
COMING INTO HIS OWN
After hitting just 2-for-14 (.143) through the first four games of the season, freshman Daniel Palka has found a groove at the plate recently for the Jackets. The Lyman, S.C. native has hit .485 (16-for-33) since the Feb. 22 game against Georgia Southern, and is currently on a eight game hit streak. Through Sunday, Palka is leading the team with four homers, 13 RBIs, and 33 total bases and is second on the team with 18 hits (tied with Jacob Esch) and slugging (.702), while batting .383. Palka had quite a series against Rutgers over the weekend, going a combined 7-for-14, with three homers, six RBIs and seven runs scored in the sweep.
LEFTOVERS FROM THE WEEKEND
Junior Jake Davies started all three games at first base over the weekend, leading the team in hitting with after going 8-for-13 (.615). Davies had started just seven games prior over three seasons on the Flats. He had hits in six consecutive at-bats. Georgia Tech outscored Rutgers 33-8, with just five of the eight runs allowed being earned. In game two of Friday’s double-header (March 6), the Jackets had six stolen bases. It was the most swipes in a single game for Tech in exactly four years. Ironically, the last time Tech stole six bases it was against the same opponent on March 6, 2007.
With the starting lineup showing six and sometimes seven freshmen on a game-to-game basis, the Jackets have been hampered by some costly youthful mistakes. In losses to Kent State (6-1), Georgia Southern (6-5) and St. John’s (13-3), the Jackets committed five errors that led to 14 unearned runs.
The Georgia Tech hurlers tossed 21-straight shutout inningsfrom the seventh inning of the series finale against GeorgiaSouthern (Feb. 23) to the first inning of the finale against St.John’s (Feb. 27) … The 21 consecutive shutout innings were sevenshy of breaking the school record of 27. Georgia Tech returns 17letterwinners and four starters (two position players and twopitchers) from a 2010 team that went 47-15 (21-6 ACC) and finished2nd in the ACC Coastal Division while reaching the finals of theNCAA Atlanta Regional. Georgia Tech entered the season in thetop-25 by three different major polls — No. 19 by CollegiateBaseball, No. 21 in the National Collegiate Baseball WritersAssociation Poll, and No. 19 by the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll …Head coach Danny Hall has had a team ranked in a major preseason top-25poll in each of his 18 years on the Flats. In 2010, the Jacketswere one of the biggest power-hitting teams in the country. Thegroup belted a school-record 122 home runs – the second most in thenation – and won 28 games by five runs 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. Weekend startersMark Pope and Jed Bradley have gained early preseason national attention,each being named to Preseason All-America teams, as well as top-100college prospects by Baseball America … Bradley was named to theUSA Baseball Golden Spikes National Player of the Year watch liston Feb. 17. After tying a school-record with 10 selections inJune’s MLB first-year player draft, the Jackets lost 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 whom were also selected in the 2010 MLB draft, isranked as high the No. 6 recruiting class in the nation. Sixnewcomers started on opening day. All 17 have made appearances inthe first nine games of the season while nine have made at leastone start … Seven newcomers have started on two occasions so farin 2011, a 7-4 win against Georgia Southern on Feb. 23 and a 6-3loss to Georgia State on March 2.