March 28, 2002
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech, the nation’s sixth-ranked team according to Collegiate Baseball, resumes Atlantic Coast Conference play this weekend when the Yellow Jackets visit NC State for a three-game set. The Yellow Jackets and Wolfpack will play at Doak Field in Raleigh at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Live radio broadcasts for the entire series can be heard on the internet at gopack.com, and live scoring and boxscores for all of Georgia Tech’s games is be available at 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. Tech’s record currently stands at 19-4 after splitting a midweek series with arch-rival Georgia, although the Yellow Jackets are 0-2 in ACC play after dropping two games at Wake Forest two weeks ago. NC State stands at 19-4 overall and 1-2 in league play. Both teams are chasing North Carolina, as the Tar Heels have jumped out to a quick 6-0 start in the ACC to stand atop the league standings.
The Yellow Jackets are led offensively by senior shortstop Victor Menocal, who leads the team in batting average (.436), hits (41), runs scored (27) and doubles (9). Junior catcher Tyler Parker and junior outielder Jason Perry are tied for the team lead in home runs (6), while Parker has a team-best 30 RBI. The pitching corps is led by a duo of sophomores in southpaw Kyle Bakker (6-0, 2.62 ERA) and righty Brian Burks (5-2, 2.95 ERA).
SERIES VS. NC STATE
In a series that dates back to 1921, Georgia Tech leads NC State, 48-39. However, the Wolfpack took three of four meetings between the two schools last year, winning two of three in Atlanta when the Yellow Jackets were ranked No. 1 in the country and then claiming a 6-4 decision to eliminate Georgia Tech from the ACC Tournament.
Tech’s all-time record in Raleigh stands at 14-20, although the Yellow Jackets swept a three-game series at Doak Field in 2000. The Yellow Jackets are 18-11 against the Wolfpack under Danny Hall, including an 8-4 mark in Raleigh.
ON THE HILL . . .
*Sophomore left hander Kyle Bakker (6-0, 2.62 ERA) will start the first game of the series on Friday night at Doak Field, making his seventh consecutive series opening start.
* 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 and Winthrop – all teams that won games in the NCAA Tournament in 2001 – in addition to Georgia State and Gardner-Webb.
* In 12 career starts, Bakker is 10-1 with a 2.59 ERA in 80.0 IP (23 ER). His list of victories over the last two years includes Georgia Southern (twice), Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Tennessee Tech, Coastal Carolina and Winthrop, all teams that won at least one game in the NCAA Regionals in 2001.
* Junior right-hander Chris Goodman (2-0, 3.24 ERA) is the scheduled starter on Saturday night in the second game of the series in what will be his second start of the season.
* After playing at NC State as a freshman in 2000, Goodman transferred to Tech. He sat out the 2001 season in accordance with ACC rules, and is in his first year of active duty with the Yellow Jackets.
* A former shortstop, Goodman began pitching for Tech in the fall of 2001. After spending fall practice as a two-way player, Goodman has give up shortstop this spring to concentrate on pitching.
* Goodman earned his first career victory in relief against Winthrop (3/9), when he pitched five innings and held the Eagles to just one run. He made his first start and earned his second win against Gardner-Webb (3/24), allowing two runs in seven innings.
*Sophomore right hander Brian Burks (5-2, 2.95 ERA) is the scheduled starter for Sunday afternoon, in what will be his sixth start of the 2002 season.
* Burks is 4-1 with a 2.89 ERA in five previous starts in 2002, picking up wins over Wofford, Virginia Commonwealth, Winthrop and Eastern Kentucky before suffering his first loss last Tuesday at Georgia.
* In seven relief appearances this season, Burks is 1-1 with three saves and a 2.63 ERA.
* Burks leads the Tech pitching staff in appearances (12) and saves (3), and ranks second in opponent batting average (.229).
* Through 23 games, head coach Danny Hall has used 22 different starting lineups. The only repeat in the starting lineup came in Tech’s two losses at Wake Forest.
* Through the first month of the season, Tech leads the ACC in team ERA (3.24) and ranks fourth in the league in team batting (.314).
* Tech is a perfect 14-0 at the new Russ Chandler Stadium in 2002, outscoring its opponents 144-47. Dating back to last season, the Yellow Jackets currently own an 19-game home winning streak.
* Tech’s 14-1 mark to start the season was its best since opening the 1997 season with a 15-1 record. The record for most wins with only one loss came in 1992 when the Yellow Jackets opened 24-1.
*After posting a 3-7 record in one-run games in 2001, Tech is 3-1 in games decided by one run and 6-1 in games decided by three runs or less in 2002.
* A quick glance at the Tech season statistics reveals that a trio of freshmen rank among the team’s top four in batting. Second baseman Eric Patterson (.373) is second, right fielder Jeremy Slayden (.338) is third, and first baseman Clifton Remole (.324) is fourth.
* Collectively, Tech’s seven freshmen position players are batting .313 (107-for-342). Tech’s top three freshmen hitters – Patterson, Remole and Slayden – are batting .345 (76-for-220).
* 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 51-for-60 (85.0%) on the season. Freshman Eric Patterson leads the team in stolen bases (11-for-14).
* 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 50 batters in 205.1 innings (2.2 BB per 9 IP).
* Sophomore Kyle Bakker leads the Tech staff in K/BB ratio with 53 strikeouts and just seven walks in 48 innings. Bakker’s career K/BB ratio stands at 6.4 to 1.
* 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, while seven different rookie position players have made at least one start.
* 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.
ATTENDANCE RECORDS FALL
Georgia Tech has opened the newly-rebuilt Russ Chandler Stadium for the 2002 season, and the fans have made their way through the turnstiles in record numbers thus far this spring.
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.
A Chandler Stadium regular-season single game crowd of 4,264 attended Tech’s game versus Georgia on Mar. 27. That marked the second highest single-game attendance in Tech history (4,468 vs Southern California in the 2000 NCAA Atlanta Super Regional).
MENOCAL ASSUMES CLOSER’S ROLE
With the move of junior Jeff Watchko – Tech’s closer for the last two seasons – to a starting role, head coach Danny Hall was in search of a new stopper out of the bullpen this spring. Hall may have found that man in his starting shortstop, Victor Menocal.
An accomplished pitcher in high school who has never pitched in college, Menocal approached the coaching staff about helping Tech on the mound during fall practice. Under the tutelage of new pitching coach Bobby Moranda, Menocal has worked hard to hone his skills as a late inning reliever.
The senior from Gainesville, Ga., assumed the closer’s role last week in grand fashion, working a scoreless ninth inning in three of Tech’s four wins last week. He earned his first career save on Mar. 19 against Eastern Kentucky. With Tech leading 6-5, Menocal entered the game with no outs and the bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning. He worked out of the jam by getting a strikeout and inducing a double play ground ball to earn the save.
For the season, Menocal has a 0.00 ERA in five appearances. Opponents are batting just .067 against him.
NOW PITCHING, A SHORTSTOP?
Not to be outdone by teammate Victor Menocal, junior Chris Goodman – another player who has been a shortstop in his collegiate career – has been very effective off the mound this season. Goodman, who sat out the 2001 season after transferring from NC State, was expected to be Tech’s backup shortstop this season. Like Menocal, he approached the coaching staff in the fall about helping off the mound and the results have been so good that he has all but given up his duties as an infielder.
Goodman is 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA in eight appearances this spring. He earned a win in his first collegiate start last Sunday against Gardner-Webb (7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 4 K). He has a lively arm (topping out in the low 90’s), and has displayed near pinpoint control (just 2 BB in 16.2 innings).
RED CROSS UPDATE
* Junior RHP Philip Perry made his first appearance in more than a month on Mar. 27 against Georgia since making his first start of the season on Feb. 17 against Tennessee Tech. Perry was limited from active duty due to strained ligaments in his pitching arm. He has returned to throwing in the bullpen last week, and he has been cleared for game action.
* Junior 1B/OF Jason Perry continues to nurse a sprained ankle suffered in practice on Mar. 2. He missed four games due to the injury, and he has been limited to just DH duty since the injury.
HOME SWEET HOME
Georgia Tech has opened its new ballpark in grand fashion, posting a perfect 14-0 record in the new Russ Chandler Stadium this season. In those home games, the Yellow Jackets are batting .341 and averaging 10.3 runs per game. The Tech pitching staff has a 2.62 ERA and is holding opponents to just a .238 batting average.
Dating back to the 2001 season, Tech currently owns an 19-game winning streak. Tech’s last loss at home was a 6-2 decision to Florida State on April 29, 2001.