March 9, 2010
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ATLANTA – After a series sweep of Rutgers over the weekend, the No. 4 Georgia Tech baseball team (10-1) travels to Mercer (10-4) Wednesday for a mid-week game that features two high-scoring teams. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. at Claude Smith Field in Macon, Ga.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS:
Wednesday, March 10 (6 p.m.) – Claude Smith Field
Georgia Tech – Mark Pope, RHP, So. (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 7 K’s)
Mercer – Russell Moses, LHP, Jr. (0-1, 6.23 ERA, 10 K’s)
After his last scheduled start a week ago against Western Carolina (March 2) was postponed due to rain, sophomore right-hander Mark Pope (1-0) will have plenty of rest heading into Wednesday’s game. Pope struck out seven while allowing just four hits in 6.0 innings against Georgia Southern on Feb. 23.
Georgia Tech remained as high as No. 4 in the Baseball America poll, and stayed at No. 5 in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll released Monday.
The Jackets swept three games last weekend against Rutgers by scores of 5-0, 19-5 and 9-4 at Russ Chandler Stadium. Friday’s shutout was the fifth of the season for the Jackets, and puts them just three shy of tying the school record of eight -held by the 1906, 1971 and 1997 teams.
The starting trio of Deck McGuire, Brandon Cumpton and Jed Bradley combined for 17 shutout innings out of 19 overall. The entire staff was superb as it recorded 29 strikeouts and only six walks in three games combined for an overall ERA of 2.67.
The Tech bats were torrid over the weekend as well, lashing 43 hits in the three games combined. In Saturday’s 19-5 win, Tech had a season-high 20 hits alone, as the 19 runs were the second highest game total this season.
Sophomore Matt Skole led the assault, batting 6-for-10 (.600) with a double, a home run and four RBI.
Sophomore Jacob Esch also was hot at the plate, hitting .583 (7-for-12), with three multiple hit games. He has had at least two hits in seven of the 10 games he has played in on the season, and leads the team with a .500 batting average (19-for-38).
Junior All-American Deck McGuire pitched a gem in the series opener, fanning nine batters and allowing no runs on just six hits in a season-high 8.0 innings of work.
Mercer (10-4) is in the midst of a six-game win streak, having swept Chicago State in a four-game series at home that extended over the weekend, before defeating Florida A&M in Tallahassee Tuesday. The Bears are averaging a remarkable 15.7 runs per game during the win streak, and have given up just 16 runs during the stretch.
The squad returns 21 letterwinners and seven starters from a 2009 team that posted an even 23-23 record and finished fifth in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Georgia Tech holds a 101-48 all-time advantage in the series against Mercer, and a 19-3 under head coach Danny Hall. Wednesday’s meeting will be just the fourth time since 2003 that the two teams will have squared off, but the 149th time overall since 1897 that the two programs have met head-to-head.
Last Meeting: The Jackets went 1-0 against Mercer exactly one year ago to date in 2009, a 17-3 result at Russ Chandler Stadium on March 10.
Following Wednesday’s game with Mercer, the Jackets will return home to open ACC play against Wake Forest, Friday-Sunday at Russ Chandler Stadium. Games time are 4 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENT
Mercer has been hot at the plate to start the 2010 season. The Bears are batting .375 on the year, having hit 44 doubles and 23 home runs to go with 139 RBI. Mercer has put itself in scoring position on numerous occasions after swiping 30 bases in 34 attempts. Billy Burns leads the bears with a .471 batting average, while Jacob Tanis has hit seven home runs to go with 27 RBI on the season.
The pitching staff is limiting opponents to just a .266 batting average, led in ERA by starters Matt McCall (2.55) and David Randall (3.14). The entire staff combined is averaging 7.3 strikeouts per 9/IP.