March 28, 2011
ATLANTA – The No. 6 Georgia Tech baseball team will host Mercer for midweek action on Tuesday at Russ Chandler Stadium. The Yellow Jackets (21-4), who own the nation’s longest win streak at 16-games, will face the Bears at 6 p.m. on two-dollar Tuesday at the park.
Pitching Matchup (Georgia Tech vs. Mercer)
Tuesday: RHP Matthew Grimes (4-1, 4.45, 28.1 IP, 24 SO) vs. RHP Justice French (2-0, 1.82, 29.2 IP, 18 SO)
The GT radio broadcast can be heard over the air on WREK (91.1), the flagship station of Georgia Tech baseball, and online at RamblinWreck.com.
Georgia Tech (21-4) enters the week ranked as high as No. 5 inthe Perfect Game USA Top-25 poll. The Jackets are also ranked inthe Collegiate Baseball Newspaper (6), USA Today/ESPN Coaches'(10), National Collegiate Baseball Writer’s Association (12) andBaseball America (14) polls. Tech is currently on a season-best16-game win streak after defeating sweeping Miami in Coral Gables,Fla. over the weekend … The Jackets’ 16-game win streak is thelongest since the 2006 season, and is the longest in the nation.Tuesday’s game will be the 153rd all-time meeting between the twoschools in a series that dates back to 1897. Mercer returns sixposition starters and 10 overall pitchers from a 2010 team thatwent 38-24, won the A-Sun Tournament title and reached the NCAAAtlanta Regional. The Bears (17-9, 5-6 A-Sun) are coming off of aseries split with Kennesaw State over the weekend, having theirseries finale called off due to rain … Mercer is batting .311 onthe season, while the pitching staff holds a 3.28 ERA.
Georgia Tech leads the all-time series by a 104-48 record … The Jackets are 61-21 against the Bears at home and 22-3 against Mercer since Danny Hall’s arrival on the Flats in 1994 … Tech won all three meetings in 2010. Last Meeting: Sophomore Mark Pope pitched Georgia Tech’s first complete game shutout since 2007 and senior Tony Plagman went 5-for-5 at the plate, including a pair of home runs, as Georgia Tech blanked Mercer 10-0 in the opening round of the NCAA Baseball Atlanta Regional on June 5, 2010.
Georgia Tech currently leads the Atlantic Coast Conference inhitting (.333), while second in pitching (2.03 ERA). Freshmancenterfielder Kyle Wren leads the ACC in hits (45), is tied for the lead inruns (31) and ranks third in batting average (.433) … JuniorMatt Skole (.398) and Jake Davies (.392) are fourth and fifth, respectively. Skoleand sophomore SamDove are both currently on eight game hit streaks … Dove hasrecorded a hit in every game since becoming a full-time on March 16against Georgia Southern. Junior Mark Pope (6-0), the Jackets Friday starter, leads the ACC infive different categories: Wins (6), Innings Pitched (45.2), ERA(0.56), Complete games (2) and shutouts (2) … Pope has allowedjust three earned runs all season, and tossed 36 2/3 consecutiveinnings without allowing an earned run from Feb. 18 to March 25 …All three weekend starters have combined for an 14-1 record, and a1.43 ERA. Pope’s .905 career winning percentage (19-2) is the bestin school history for a pitcher with at least 10 wins … LaFitteheld the previous record in a two-year career from 1906-1907. Techis coming off its first weekend series sweep over Miami since the1967 season, and the first ever on Miami’s home turf … TheJackets won every weekend series this season, and swept five in arow … Tech is the only remaining undefeated team in ACC play.
It has been quite a month for Danny Hall’s team, as the Jackets have gone 16-1 so far in March. After losing the first game of the month, Tech has gone on to win 16 straight. It has historically been the best month in all of coach Hall’s 18 years. Tech is 248-70 (.780) in March since 1994. The Jackets have never lost fewer than two games in March.
QUITE A HOME STRETCH
Georgia Tech concluded a 16-game home stand with the NC State series on March 20. The Jackets had quite a strong showing on the Flats during the stretch, going 14-2 and running a streak of 12 straight wins. Tech outscored its opponents 128-48 over the 16 games.
TOP OF THE HEAP
There’s no secret to Georgia Tech’s success thus far in 2011 — good hitting and good pitching. Through 25 games, the Yellow Jackets are at the top in hitting and second in pitching in the ACC, boasting a .333 team batting average, with a league-high 294 hits and a .483 slugging average. They also lead in on-base percentage (.421). The Jackets also are getting it done on the mound. They are the only team to have two complete games — Mark Pope has both. The Jackets’ 51 earned runs are tops in the league, while Tech pitchers have whiffed 232, third in the conference.
STARTING THREE ARE KEY
Georgia Tech’s weekend rotation of Mark Pope, Jed Bradley and Buck Farmer has keyed the team’s success so far this season. The 1-2-3 punch is 14-1 on the season, holding a combined 1.43 ERA, having allowed just 19 earned runs in 121 innings. Pope has paved the way with a conference-leading 0.59 earned run average (third in the nation), and has yielded just three earned runs all year (45.2 IP). Bradley leads the crew in strikeouts with 51, while Farmer (42) and Pope (41) are close behind.
GOING THE DISTANCE
Junior Mark Pope has made a habit of pitching complete games recently, tossing back-to-back complete game shutouts against Rutgers and Maryland this season. Pope is one of only two pitchers in the ACC to reach the nine-inning plateau, and has done it twice.
….AND LEADING IN CAREER WINNING PERCENTAGE
With a 8-3 win over NC State, Pope improved his career record to 19-2 overall. His .904 winning percentage moved him into first place on the all-time list at Georgia Tech for a pitcher with a minimum of 10 wins.
Pope surpassed Ed LaFitte (18-2, .900), who set the record in a two-year career that from 1906-1907.
Freshman Kyle Wren has been the “table-setter” for the very young Yellow Jacket squad in 2011. Tech’s leadoff man leads the conference in hits (45) and is tied for the lead in runs scored (31). Wren has reached base safely in 24 of the 25 games, with at least one hit in 22 of them. The freshman centerfielder has 13 multi-hit games on the season. He had five hits against Maryland on March 12, which tied for the most by an ACC player in a game this season.
DEFENSIVE SWITCH PAYS OFF
After opening the season with a 5-4 record, head coach Danny Hall made a defensive switch that has pay dividends during the team’s current 13-game win streak. Junior Jacob Esch and freshman Mott Hyde switched positions in the middle infield, with Esch moving from second base to shortstop and Hyde just the opposite. Since the flop, Esch has turned 12 double plays, combining with Hyde for nine of them. Georgia Tech had turned just five DP’s in the previous nine games.
OFFENSE HEATING UP
Georgia Tech has been hot at the plate during its win streak, batting .345 as a team with 142 runs scored, 45 doubles and 16 (of the team’s 18) home runs. The Jackets are averaging 8.9 runs and 12.5 hits per game during that time span. Freshmen Kyle Wren (.435) and junior Jake Davies (.400) have set the pace at during the 16 games. The team was batting just .308 and averaging just 5.6 runs in the previous nine games.
CREDIT THE HURLERS TOO
Much can be credited to the pitching staff, which has allowed just 31 earned runs in the last 16 games for an average of 1.9 per game. The group is holding opposing hitters to a .197 average during the stretch.
The bullpen has also fared well during the streak, holding a 2.07 ERA, having allowed just 29 hits and nine runs in 39 1/3 relief innings. Sophomore Luke Bard has led the way with a win and three saves, allowing just three runs in his last eight outings (16.0 IP).
DAVIES’ PROVIDES RELIEF IN ANOTHER WAY
Entering the 2011 season, the Jackets had big shoes to fill at first base after the departure of All-American Tony Plagman. Junior Jake Davies, who served as one of the primary relievers in the bullpen the past two seasons with over 40 career appearances on the mound, has blossomed into the new role as Tech’s everyday first baseman.
Davies had just eight hits in 37 at-bats over the past two seasons, but is now third on the team in average with a .392 clip (31-for-79). He has seven doubles, four home runs and 17 RBI in 18 starts.
BRADLEY SOARS IN CONFERENCE PLAY
Lefty Jed Bradley has been brilliant against ACC teams in his three seasons on the Flats. With wins over Maryland, NC State and Miami earlier this season, Bradley improved to 9-3 against conference foes in his career. He went 6-2 vs. ACC opponents in 2010.
GEORGIA TECH vs. IN-STATE OPPONENTS
The Jackets are 5-2 against teams from Georgia this season, defeating Georgia, Georgia Southern (three times) and Kennesaw State, while dropping one to the GSU Eagles and Georgia State. Since 1999, the Yellow Jackets own a 115-36 (.762) record against its in-state foes. In 18 years under head coach Danny Hall, Tech is 159-53 (.750) against teams from Georgia.