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No. 3 Tech Baseball Opens Season at Georgia Southern

Feb. 9, 2006

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ATLANTA–Third-ranked Georgia Tech (45-19, 22-8 ACC in 2005) lifts the lid on the 2006 season this weekend when the Yellow Jackets visit Georgia Southern (1-2) for a two-game series. Tech opens the season on Saturday at 1:30 p.m., and the two teams will play on Sunday at 2 p.m. in a game that will be televised by CSS. The Jackets and Eagles will conclude the annual four-game series on Apr. 4-5 in Atlanta.

The Yellow Jackets return eight starters in the field and welcome back six of their top eight pitchers from the 2005 team that won the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season and tournament championships and captured the NCAA Atlanta Regional title.

Headlining the returnees are a pair of preseason All-Americas in third baseman Wes Hodges (.397-9-51 in 2005) and catcher/pitcher Matt Wieters (.366-10-68 / 3-3, 2.85, 6 SV). Tech returns four other players who earned All-ACC honors in 2005 – RF Jeff Kindel, LF Steven Blackwood, 2B Mike Trapani and RHP Blake Wood.

Wood will start the season opener on Saturday, while junior LHP Lee Hyde will start game two on Sunday.

GAME COVERAGE: Sunday’s game will be televised by CSS. Live statistics on the internet will be available at www.ramblinwreck.com.

Georgia Tech vs. Georgia Southern

Georgia Tech leads Georgia Southern, 72-22, in a series that dates to 1947. The Yellow Jackets and Eagles have played every year since 1984, playing at leasat four times annually since 1986.

Tech had a 20-game winning streak against Georgia Southern snapped in the final game of the 2003 series when the Eagles claimed an 8-7 decision. The Yellow Jackets won 20 straight games in the series from 1996 through 2003. Tech has won 27 of the last 29 meetings.

Tech has won 18 straight games over Georgia Southern at J.I. Clements Stadium dating back to the 1997 season. The Yellow Jackets have an all-time record of 31-10 in games played in Statesboro.

Tech is 40-10 (.800) against Georia Southern since 1994 under head coach Danny Hall. The Tech skipper owns a 20-4 record against the Eagles in Statesboro.

Last season, Tech won all four games in the series. The Yellow Jackets won 10-6 and 13-6 in Statesboro, and won 9-1 and 17-6 in Atlanta. Since the 2000 season, Tech has outscored Georgia Southern 272-115, an average of 10.9 to 4.6 per game.

Tech Picked Second in ACC Preseason Poll

The Atlantic Coast Conference’s 12 head coaches selected Georgia Tech to finish second in the league’s annual preseason poll. The Yellow Jackets finished first in the league race last year with a 22-8 conference mark.

Clemson was the top pick with eight first place votes and a total of 139 points, while Georgia Tech was second with two first place votes and 129 points. North Carolina was third with two first place votes and 126 points.

Florida State (107), Miami (95), NC State (86), Virginia (72), Wake Forest (59), Boston College (41), Maryland (38), Virginia Tech (30) and Duke (15) rounded out the poll.

Hodges, Wieters, Wood, Kindel Named to Preseason All-America Teams

Junior third baseman Wes Hodges was named to various preseason All-America teams for the 2006 season. Hodges was a first-team selection by Baseball America, Collegeiate Baseball, and RosenblattReport.com, and a second-team pick by the NCBWA.

Sophomore catcher-pitcher Matt Wieters was a second-team preseason All-America selection by Baseball America and RosenblattReport.com and a third-team pick by Collegiate Baseball and the NCBWA.

Junior pitcher Blake Wood was a third-team preseason All-America by Collegiate Baseball and senior outfielder Jeff Kindel was a third-team selection by RosenblattReport.com.

Best Tools in the ACC

In Baseball America’s annual college preview issue, the publication broke down the best tools and players in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Three Yellow Jackets were tabbed to the preseason All-ACC team, including catcher/pitcher Matt Wieters, the projected ACC Player of the Year, outfielder Steven Blackwood and third baseman Wes Hodges.

Hodges was tabbed the ACC’s No. 3 prospect for the 2006 draft, while Tim Gustafson was ranked 10th. Wieters was tabbed as the No. 3 prospect for the 2007 draft.

Hodges was also listed as the ACC’s best defensive third baseman.

Best Players by Class

Baseball America ranked the top 50 collegiate players in each class for the 2006 season, and Georgia Tech was well represented on that list. Eight different Yellow Jackets were named to the top 50 lists, including one freshman, three sophomores, one junior and three seniors.

The seniors included outfielder Steven Blackwood (No. 8), outfielder Jeff Kindel (No. 15) and catcher Andy Hawranick (No. 35). Third baseman Wes Hodges was listed as the No. 8 junior. The sophmoresincluded catcher/pitcher Matt Wieters (No. 4), outfielder Danny Payne (No. 40), and shortstop Michael Fisher (No. 47). Pitcher David Duncan was listed as the No. 37 freshman.

Swinging the Big Sticks

The Yellow Jackets led the ACC with a .319 team batting average during the 2004 season and a .333 team average in 2005. Tech has hit over .300 as a team in 19 of the last 21 years, and has averaged at least seven runs per game every year since 1981. Tech has led the ACC in batting in six years (1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005) under Danny Hall.

Oh, Brother!

Georgia Tech has two brothers of former Tech stars from the Yellow Jackets’ 2002 College World Series team on the 2006 roster.

Sophomore pitcher John Goodman is the brother of pitcher Chris Goodman (2002-03), who went 17-5 in two years on the Tech staff and holds the school record for fewest walks per nine innings.

Freshman first baseman Luke Murton is the brother of outfielder Matt Murton (2001-03), a two-time All-ACC performer who now plays for the Chicago Cubs.

Six All-ACC Honorees Return

Head coach Danny Hall, the 2005 Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year, welcomes back six players who earned alll-Atlantic Coast Conference honors in 2005. Returning first-team all-ACC performers are catcher-pitcher Matt Wieters, the 2005 ACC Rookie of the Year, third baseman Wes Hodges and outfielder Steven Blackwood. Returning second-team all-ACC players are pitcher Blake Wood, second baseman Mike Trapani, and outfielder Jeff Kindel.

Hall, who led the Yellow Jackets to the ACC regular season and tournament championships, earned ACC Coach of the Year honors for the third time in 12 years at Georgia Tech. The Tech skipper also earned the award in 1997 and 2000.

Wieters became the fifth player in Georgia Tech history to be named ACC Rookie of the Year, joining current Major League stars Jason Varitek (1991), Nomar Garciaparra (1992) and Mark Teixeira (1999).

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