March 12, 2009
ATLANTA – The sixth-ranked Georgia Tech baseball team returns to ACC action this weekend when Boston College (10-3, 2-1 ACC) travels to Russ Chandler Stadium for a three-game series against the Yellow Jackets (11-1, 3-0 ACC). Friday’s game is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m., and the Eagles and Jackets will follow with a 2 p.m. game Saturday. First pitch for Sunday’s contest is slated for 1 p.m.
The Yellow Jackets are in the midst of an eight-game winning streak following wins over in-state foes Mercer and Kennesaw State this week. Boston College is coming off a series win at Florida State last weekend.
Georgia Tech was a consensus preseason top-25 team that moved into the top-10 in the season’s first official polls. The Yellow Jackets have been ranked as high as No. 6 this season (this week by Collegiate Baseball) and currently appear among the top-10 in the Collegiate Baseball, NCBWA (8) and USA Today (9) polls. Baseball America has the Jackets ranked No. 16 in their latest college baseball poll, while Tech is ranked No. 11 by Rivals.com.
Pitching Matchup (Georgia Tech vs. Boston College)
Friday: RHP Deck McGuire (3-0, 0.42) vs. RHP JB MacDonald (1-1, 2.37)
Saturday: RHP Zach Von Tersch (3-0, 4.50) vs. LHP Pat Dean (2-1, 5.29)
Sunday: RHP Brandon Cumpton (0-0, 4.50) vs. RHP Mike Dennhardt (2-0, 8.16)
Senior RF Luke Murton (.409-0-8-2) and senior C Jason Haniger (.405-2-12-2) are pacing the Yellow Jacket offense this season, while junior 1B Tony Plagman (.396-5-18-4) leads the team in HR and RBI. The Jackets are batting .325 as a team, while all six players that average more than 2.5 AB per game are hitting above .300 in 2009.
The entire series can be heard on WREK-Radio (91.1 FM in Atlanta/www.wrek.org), while live stats for all Tech baseball games are available at Ramblinwreck.com.
The Yellow Jackets will be holding an autograph signing and poster give-away Sunday, immediately following conclusion of the series finale against Boston College. Tech fans should make plans to stick around after the game to meet their 2009 Yellow Jackets.
Tech vs. Boston College (Tech leads BC, 6-3)
The Yellow Jackets and Eagles will be meeting for just the 10th time in history this Friday when Boston College makes just its second visit to Russ Chandler Stadium. All nine previous meetings have come since the Eagles joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2005.
In the only other series played in Atlanta, the Yellow Jackets won the series against the Eagles, but Boston College avoided a sweep by posting a 9-2 win in the finale. Since that game, Tech has won three-straight against the Eagles, posting a sweep in the cold and snow in Chestnut Hill, Mass. a year ago.
Streaking in the ACC
Georgia Tech swept just two Atlantic Coast Conference series during the 2008 regular season and already has one sweep in 2009 after winning all three games against Maryland last weekend. The Yellow Jackets have swept 63 weekend series since the conference adopted the current three-game round-robin format in 1987.
Since 1987, Tech has won 117 of 176 (.665) ACC series, including 33 of its last 49 (.673) weekend series. The Jackets took five weekend series a year ago, and opened league play with a sweep of Maryland last weekend.
Yellow Jackets in the RPI
Georgia Tech enters the weekend ranked No. 6 in the nation in the latest RPI (source: BoydsWorld.com). (The NCAA releases its RPI just once a week, beginning later in the season).
The Atlantic Coast Conference is well represented in the most updated RPI, with five teams ranked among the top 11 in the nation. North Carolina leads all conference teams, standing at No. 4 in the RPI, while Miami (5), Georgia Tech, Virginia (9) and Clemson (11) own four of the next seven spots.
Georgia Tech is scheduled to play no fewer than 15 games against teams that currently appear in the top-25 in the RPI this season, with eight of those contests coming away from Russ Chandler Stadium.
Boston College currently stands just outside the top-25 at No. 35 in the RPI.
In terms of schedule strength, Georgia Tech is ranked No. 4 while Boston College’s schedule stands at No. 38 in the latest rankings.
In 2008, Georgia Tech nearly doubled its home run output from the 2007 season and marked the biggest increase in home runs from one year to the next in school history. Last season, the Yellow Jackets belted 92 home runs, the seventh-best single season mark in school history and the fourth-most since Hall’s arrival in 1994.
With an ACC-leading 26 home runs through the first 12 games of the season, the Yellow Jackets look to be well on their way to another record-breaking season. Another note about Tech leading the league in HR – they 26 homers have come in just 12 games this season, and no other team in the league has played fewer games than the Yellow Jackets.
On the Offensive
Speaking of power numbers, the Yellow Jackets have been hot through their last four games, averaging 14 runs per game while 28 of their 54 hits have gone for extra bases. Against Kennesaw State, Mercer, and in two games against Maryland, Georgia Tech is batting .362 with 13 doubles and 15 home runs while slugging .752.
Leading the way for the Jackets is junior first baseman Tony Plagman, who is batting .600 (9-for-15) with three home runs, two doubles and 10 RBI. Eleven different Yellow Jackets have homered over the last four games.
Haniger Receives ACC Postgraduate Scholarship
Yellow Jacket senior Jason Haniger was one of 42 Atlantic Coast Conference scholar-athletes selected to receive an ACC Postgraduate Scholarship in 2009. He joins two other Georgia Tech student-athletes – football player Darryl Richard and softball standout Whitney Haller – on the list and is the ONLY baseball player among the league’s 12 schools to receive the honor this season. The conference office will give Haniger $5,000 to put towards a graduate degree, and the senior Santa Clara, Calif., native scheduled to receive his undergraduate degree in management this December. He currently has a 3.53 GPA and maintains a 3.80 GPA in his major classes.
Playing With a Full Deck
With three wins in as many weeks this season, Yellow Jacket ace Deck McGuire has improved to 11-1 in his career. His .917 career winning percentage currently stands as the best winning percentage in school history (for pitchers with a minimum of 10 wins), eclipsing Ed LaFitte’s school record .900 winning percentage. While it may not be noteworthy to some, what’s impressive is LaFitte set that school record with an 18-2 mark from 1906-07. That’s right – over 100 years ago.
While McGuire’s near perfection is one for the record books, another note of interest is that the sophomore hurler has 28 strikeouts this season while allowing just four free passes. That’s not to mention that he’s only given up 12 hits in 21.2 innings of work (opponents are hitting just .171 against him in 2009). He currently leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in strikeouts and ERA.
Saved by the Pope
Right-hander Mark Pope, a freshman on the 2009 Georgia Tech roster, has been the guy head coach Danny Hall has turned to to close out games. The Marietta native hasn’t disappointed either – posting a 2-0 record with four saves in his last six game appearances. He has allowed a run in just two of his seven game appearances, posting a 3.38 ERA on the season.
But perhaps the most impressive note about the newcomer is this: In his seven appearances, he has inherited a total of eight base runners when he has entered the game – only one of which has actually scored. Included in this is the fact that he has entered the game with the bases loaded on two occasions in 2009.
Runs No Problem for Tersch
The last thing a pitcher wants to do is work seven or eight innings, giving up just one or two runs, and be losing the game. Yellow Jacket starter Zach Von Tersch hasn’t had to deal with that issue this season though – the Yellow Jackets are averaging 16.7 runs per game in contests that he starts, including a 24-run explosion against Maryland his last time out. Tech has scored in double figures (13, 13, 24) every time the junior has taken the mound, while he has held up his end of the bargain – giving up just eight runs total on the year.