April 2, 2009
ATLANTA – Third-ranked Georgia Tech continues a string of six-straight games against top-five opponents this weekend when No. 5 North Carolina travels to Atlanta for a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference series. The Yellow Jackets (18-4, 8-2 ACC) have had a week off since going 2-1 against No. 2 Miami in Coral Gables, Fla., after their lone midweek game against Mercer was cancelled Wednesday evening. The Tar Heels (22-6, 7-4 ACC) have won three straight games – including a 6-5 victory over Virginia to capture the ACC series, 2-1, last Sunday.
Georgia Tech was a consensus preseason top-25 team that moved into the top-10 in the season’s first official polls. The Yellow Jackets have been ranked as high as No. 3 this season (the last three weeks by Collegiate Baseball) and currently appear among the top-10 in the Collegiate Baseball, NCBWA (3), USA Today (4), Rivals.com (7) and Baseball America (10) polls. This week marks the first time all season the Jackets have been ranked among the top-10 in all five polls.
Pitching Matchup (Georgia Tech vs. North Carolina)
Friday – 7 p.m.: RHP Deck McGuire (5-0, 2.50) vs. RHP Alex White (4-0, 4.30)
Saturday – 3 p.m.: RHP Zach Von Tersch (5-1, 5.79) vs. RHP Adam Warren (3-2, 2.78)
Sunday – 1 p.m.: RHP Kevin Jacob (4-1, 2.97) vs. RHP Matt Harvey (4-1, 5.67)
Junior 1B Tony Plagman (.363-7-31-4) and freshman 3B Matt Skole (.352-7-25-2) are powering the Yellow Jacket offense in 2009, while sophomore SS Derek Dietrich (.354-4-22-1) and senior RF Luke Murton (.350-3-19-3) have been on a hot streak of late.
Friday’s game can be heard on WREK Radio (91.1 FM in Atlanta/www.wrek.org), and the final two games of the series will be broadcast on AM 790 The Zone. Live stats for all Tech baseball games are available at Ramblinwreck.com.
Georgia Tech rally towels will be handed out to the first 400 fans through the gates at Saturday’s game, courtesy of Russell Athletic.
All Georgia Tech students attending the series this weekend can get free popcorn with the purchase of a soft drink from the third base concession stand. The promotion is available for all three games of the series.
Tech vs. North Carolina (Tech leads, 60-51)
The Yellow Jackets hold a 60-51 edge in the series against the Tar Heels, including a 30-23 record at home. This will be the first series in Atlanta between the two teams since the 2006 season, since ACC scheduling sent the Yellow Jackets to UNC each of the last two seasons. Despite losing the last two series (on the road) to the Tar Heels, Georgia Tech has won each of the last four series played at Russ Chandler Stadium, dating back to the 2000 season.
The series has been fairly even of late, with neither team winning more than two in a row against the other since the Yellow Jackets swept the 2000 series against the Tar Heels in Atlanta.
Georgia Tech is 31-22 against the `Heels since head coach Danny Hall’s arrival in 1994.
Jackets’ Tough Stretch
From last Friday (March 27) through April 14, the Yellow Jackets are to play 12 games over a 19-day span. As if that wasn’t tough enough, 10 of those 12 games are against teams ranked among the top-10 in the nation. Tech went 2-1 at No. 2 Miami last weekend and faces No. 5 North Carolina for a three-game series this weekend at home. The Jackets will also host No. 10 Virginia next weekend before traveling to Athens to take on top-ranked Georgia April 14.
Wrecked by Rain
The 2009 season has marked several rainouts for teams throughout the nation, and the Yellow Jackets have not been immune to the delays and cancellations. The latest cancellation came Wednesday, when Georgia Tech was scheduled to travel to Mercer for a single game. That came one week after Tech’s highly-anticipated home showdown against No. 1-ranked Georgia was also cancelled due to rain.
This season the Yellow Jackets have had five games cancelled due to weather – four to rain and the fifth, snow. Due to all of the cancellations, Georgia Tech has played fewer games than any other team in the ACC in 2009.
This season, the Yellow Jackets have belted an ACC-leading 42 home runs, which ranks 12th in the nation. Tech’s 42 homers have come in 22 games (the fewest played by any ACC school this season), to give the Yellow Jackets an average of 1.91 home runs per game – the sixth-best mark in the nation in 2009.
Waving Them In
Third base coach Bryan Prince has been busy this season, waving more than nine runners home per game. The Jackets have scored in bunches this season, and their average of 9.0 runs per game currently ranks 25th in the nation and third among all ACC schools.
The majority of those runs have come off extra-base hits by the Yellow Jackets, and Tech currently ranks 20th in the nation in slugging percentage, with 42 doubles, five triples and 42 home runs in 246 hits this season (36 percent of the Yellow Jackets’ hits are for extra bases).
Sitting Them Down
Not to be out-done by the offense, Tech’s young pitching staff has put on a masterful performance on the mound in 2009. The Yellow Jackets are striking out an average of 9.9 batters per game, which is the sixth-best mark in the nation and third-best in the ACC in 2009.
Opponents are batting just .248 on the season against the Yellow Jackets, averaging only 8.4 hits per game, which ranks 22nd in the country.
Saved by the Pope
Right-hander Mark Pope, a freshman on the 2009 Georgia Tech roster, has been the guy head coach Danny Hall has turned to to close out games. The Marietta native hasn’t disappointed either – posting a 2-0 record with seven saves in his last nine game appearances. His seven saves in 2009 is currently tied for the league lead and ranks second in the nation.
Perhaps one of the most impressive notes about the newcomer is this: In his nine appearances, he has inherited a total of 11 base runners when entering the game – only two of which have scored. Included in this is the fact that he has entered the game with the bases loaded on three occasions in 2009.
Pope’s seven saves in 2009 is tied for the 10th-best single-season mark in school history and tied for 13th in Tech’s career record books.