March 6, 2002
Georgia Tech, the nation’s fifth-ranked team according to Baseball America, hosts Winthrop for a three-game series this weekend at Russ Chandler Stadium. The series begins on Friday at 4 p.m., and continues on Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. each day. There will be no radio coverage, but live scoring and boxscores for all of Georgia Tech’s games will be available at www.ramblinwreck.com.
The Yellow Jackets rattled off seven straight wins to open the season, the team’s best start since opening 1997 with 10 straight wins, and Tech’s record currently stands at 10-1 following a 6-5, 10-inning win over East Tennessee State on Tuesday afternoon. Winthrop, which went 48-16-1 and finished the 2001 season ranked 25th in the nation, stands at 8-5 in 2002 pending a Wednesday afternoon game at Baylor.
SERIES VS. WINTHROP
Georgia Tech owns a 9-0 record against Winthrop, in a series that dates back to 1992. Under Danny Hall, the Yellow Jackets are 8-0 against the Eagles. All nine games in the series have been played at Russ Chandler Stadium. The most recent meeting between the two schools came in 1999 when the Yellow Jackets took a 2-1 win in a single midweek game. Tech and Winthrop have met in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999.
ON THE HILL . . .
*Sophomore left hander Kyle Bakker (4-0, 1.33 ERA) will start the first game of the series on Friday afternoon at Russ Chandler Stadium. Bakker was Tech’s No. 3 starter for much of the stretch run of the 2001 season before being sidelined with stiffness in his left arm for all of the Yellow Jackets’ postseason games. The big southpaw, who is the tallest player in the ACC at 6-9, has taken over as the No. 1 starter for Tech in 2002, and he has opened the season with consecutive wins over Georgia Southern, Tennessee Tech, Coastal Carolina – all teams that won games in the NCAA Tournament in 2001 – and Georgia State.
In nine career starts, Bakker is 8-1 with a 1.98 ERA in 59.0 IP (13 ER). His list of victories includes Georgia Southern (twice), Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Tennessee Tech and Coastal Carolina, all teams that won at least one game in the NCAA Regionals in 2001.
Saturday’s and Sunday’s starters are to be announced. Possible candidates include junior righty Jeff Watchko (2-1, 4.50 ERA), sophomore righty Brian Burks (3-0, 1.21 ERA) and freshman righty Kyle Schmidt (0-0, 3.60 ERA), among others.
* Through 11 games, head coach Danny Hall has used 11 different starting lineups.
* Through the first three weeks of the season, Tech leads the ACC in team ERA (2.40) and ranks third in the league in team batting (.329).
*After posting a 3-7 record in one-run games in 2001, Tech is 2-0 in games decided by one run in 2002.
* A quick glance at the Tech season statistics reveals that a quartet of freshmen lead Tech in batting. Brandon Boggs (.438), Eric Patterson (.417), Clifton Remole (.382) and Jeremy Slayden (.351) rank 1-2-3-4 on the team in batting average.
* Collectively, Tech’s seven freshmen position players are batting .363 (62-for-171) while Tech’s eight freshman pitchers have a 4.00 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 18 innings.
* Georgia Tech opened the 2002 campaign with seven straight wins, the Yellow Jackets’ best start to a season since opening with a 10-0 record in 1997. The Tech record for most wins to start a season came in 1987 when the Yellow Jackets opened the season 16-0.
* Tech has opened the 2002 season showing off its team speed. The Yellow Jackets were a perfect 11-for-11 in the stolen base department in the first two games of the season at Georgia Southern and stand at 23-for-28 on the season.
* An opening day record crowd of 1,814 attended the first game at the new Russ Chandler Stadium on Feb. 15 against Tennessee Tech. A total 4,828 fans attended the three-game series, making it the largest three-game attendance for a series before April in Georgia Tech history. It was the second-largest three-game attendance figure for a non-conference series in school history.
* New Tech pitching coach Bobby Moranda has stressed the importance of throwing strikes. Those efforts have been displayed early in the season where Tech pitchers have walked 19 batters in 100 innings (1.7 BB per 9 IP).
* Sophomore Kyle Bakker leads the Tech staff in K/BB ratio with 32 strikeouts and just two walks in 27 innings. Bakker’s career K/BB ratio stands at 81-11.
* Tech has used 15 different pitchers already this season after having a total of 11 different pitchers see action during the 2001 season. The most pitchers that Tech has used in any one season prior to this season was 13 in both 1985 and 1996.
* Four freshmen – Eric Patterson (2B), Brandon Boggs (CF), Clifton Remole (1B) and Jeremy Slayden (DH) – were in the starting lineup for opening day. Mike Nickeas (3B) started the second game of the series at Georgia Southern, raising the total number of freshmen to start in 2002 to five. A total of 15 freshmen have seen game action so far this season.
* Tech hit back-to-back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning against Georgia Southern on Feb. 10. Jason Perry, Tyler Parker and Jeremy Slayden all blasted solo shots to open the inning. The last time the Yellow Jackets accomplished that feat came in 2000 when Brad Stockton, Mark Teixeira and Bryan Prince homered consecutively at Wake Forest.
HOME SWEET HOME
Georgia Tech has opened its new ballpark in grand fashion, posting a perfect 6-0 record in the new Russ Chandler Stadium this season. In those home games, the Yellow Jackets are batting .360 and averaging 13.3 runs per game. The Tech pitching staff has a 2.45 ERA and is holding opponents to just a .202 batting average.
FOUR EARN ALL-TOURNAMENT AT MYRTLE BEACH
Four Yellow Jackets – catcher Tyler Parker, second baseman Eric Patterson and pitchers Kyle Bakker and Brian Burks – were selected to the all-tournament team at the Baseball at the Beach Tournament in Myrtle Beach (Feb. 22-24). Tech went 2-1 in the round-robin event, finishing behind only undefeated South Carolina. Other teams in the tournament were Virginia Commonwealth and host Coastal Carolina.
BAKKER NAMED ACC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Sophomore lefty Kyle Bakker was selected as the first ACC Player of the Week for the 2002 season following his performance at Georgia Southern on Feb. 9. The 6’9 southpaw tossed seven shutout innings, holding the Eagles to just four singles and no walks while striking out seven batters.
LARGEST FRESHMAN CLASS EVER AT TECH
The Yellow Jackets have 17 freshmen on the 2002 roster, the largest concentration of rookies on one team in school history. The previous high was 15, which occurred in 1982 (Jim Morris’ first season as head coach) and 1998 (which included last year’s senior class).
THREE NAMED TO PRE-SEASON ALL-AMERICA TEAMS
Three Yellow Jackets were named to pre-season All-America teams by various baseball publications prior to the start of the 2002 season. Junior catcher Tyler Parker was selected as a first-team pre-season All-America by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. Senior shortstop Victor Menocal was a second-team pick by Collegiate Baseball, while sophomore outfielder Matt Murton was a third-team selection by Baseball America.
FRESHMAN CLASS RANKS NINTH
Tech’s rookie class for this season, which numbers 17 freshmen, was ranked as the ninth best recruiting class in the nation by Baseball America. Tech’s recruiting classes have been ranked among the top 16 in the country in each of the last six years, including the 1998 class featuring Mark Teixeira that was ranked No. 1 in the country.
Under the direction of recruiting coordinator Scott Stricklin, Tech signed 10 players in the early signing period last fall (see list on p. 3), including three players ranked among the nation’s top 25 high school prospects. Many major baseball publications feel that this class will once again rank in the top 15 in the nation.
In addition to 17 new players on this year’s team, Georgia Tech welcomes three new assistant coaches to the program this season. Bobby Moranda joins the Tech staff as Associate Head Coach and Pitching Coach after spending the last six years at Wake Forest and helping the Demon Deacons win three ACC titles in the last four years. Moranda, who also worked at Virginia, is a 12-year veteran of the ACC.
Scott Stricklin joins the staff as Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator after spending the last two seasons at Vanderbilt. Stricklin, who played for head coach Danny Hall at Kent State, was previously on Tech’s from 1998-99 as a volunteer coach. Former Wake Forest All-America first baseman Jon Palmieri is in his first season at Georgia Tech as a volunteer coach.
Following the successful 2001 season, several Yellow Jackets made a name for themselves during the summer months. Sophomore outfielder Matt Murton was named the MVP of the prestigious Cape Cod League, leading the league in RBI while batting .324 and going a perfect 19-for-19 in stolen base attempts. Murton was recognized as the No. 3 prospect in the Cape last summer.
Junior first baseman Jason Perry was tabbed as the No. 11 prospect in the Cape last summer after leading the league in home runs, extra base hits and slugging percentage. Senior shortstop Victor Menocal was named the No. 10 prospect in the Great Lakes league last summer.
NEW HOME OF THE YELLOW JACKETS
Russ Chandler Stadium, the home of the Yellow Jackets for the last 16 seasons and affectionately known as the “Rusty C,” has a completely new look this season. A new era in the stadium’s history begins this spring as the old facility was demolished to make way for a state-of-the-art, $9.7 million, 4,157 seat stadium in the exact same location. The architectural firm of HOK – who designed Camden Yards, Jacobs Field, and Pacific Bell Park, among others – designed the new Russ Chandler Stadium and construction on this new facility was completed in less than eight months.