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No. 8 Baseball Travels to Myrtle Beach

Feb. 21, 2002

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Georgia Tech, the nation’s eighth-ranked team according to Baseball America, travels to Myrtle Beach, S.C. for a three-game, round-robin event this weekend that features South Carolina, Coastal Carolina and Virginia Commonwealth in addition to the Yellow Jackets.

Friday’s schedule includes South Carolina and VCU at 12 p.m., followed by Tech and Coastal Carolina at 4 p.m. On Saturday, Tech will play South Carolina at 12 p.m. (televised regionally by Comcast), followed by VCU and Coastal Carolina at 4 p.m. Sunday’s slate begins with Tech and VCU at 10 a.m., followed by South Carolina and Coastal Carolina at 3 p.m. All games will be played at Coastal Federal Field, home of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Carolina League A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. Live scoring and boxscores for all of Georgia Tech’s games in the event will be available at

Georgia Tech is 6-0 on the young season, the Yellow Jackets’ best start to a season since opening 1997 with 10 straight victories. The Yellow Jackets have outscored their opponents, 79-13, through the first six games of the year.

Tech enters the 2002 season with 17 new players on its roster in addition to three new assistant coaches. Gone is the majority of the core of players – including first-round draft picks Mark Teixeira and Richard Lewis, among others – that helped the Yellow Jackets capture the 2000 Atlantic Coast Conference championship and advance to three NCAA Regionals in the last four years. Tech returns 13 letterwinners from last year’s team that went 41-20, including eight position players and five pitchers. The Yellow Jackets have just three seniors on the roster – shortstop Victor Menocal, third baseman Matthew Boggs and outfielder Wes Rynders.


Coastal Carolina: Georgia Tech is 10-2 all-time against Coastal Carolina. The two schools last met in the first round of the 2001 NCAA Athens Regional when Scott Sturkie pitched the Chanticleers to a 5-3 victory. Prior to that meeting, the Yellow Jackets had won 10 in a row in the series from 1990 through 1995, including an 11-7 win the second round of the 1991 NCAA Atlantic Regional in Tallahassee, Fla. Coastal’s only other win in the series was a 9-8, 10-inning decision in 1978, the first ever meeting between the two schools.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks lead Georgia Tech, 31-13-1, in a series that dates back to 1928. The two schools last met in the 1993 NCAA Atlantic Regional in Atlanta when Tech took a 12-0 decision, while the last regular season meeting came when USC swept a home-and-home series in 1991 4-3 and 7-4. South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner is no stranger to Tech head coach Danny Hall, as the two faced each other on several occasions from 1994-96 while Tanner was at NC State. Hall is 8-4 head-to-head against Tanner.

Virginia Commonwealth: Georgia Tech is 2-0 against VCU. The Yellow Jackets took a 7-3 decision in Atlanta in 1980 and then won 9-6 in the first round of the 1988 NCAA Atlantic Regional in Miami, Fla.


*Sophomore left hander Kyle Bakker (2-0, 0.64 ERA) will start the weekend opener on Friday afternoon against Coastal Carolina. 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 opened the season with back-to-back wins over Georgia Southern and Tennessee Tech.

In seven career starts, Bakker is 6-1 with a 1.96 ERA in 46.0 IP (10 ER). His list of victories includes Georgia Southern (twice), Auburn, Clemson, Florida State and Tennessee Tech, all teams that went to the NCAA Regionals in 2001.

*Junior righty Jeff Watchko (2-0, 1.64 ERA) will start on Saturday afternoon against South Carolina in the second game of the weekend event. Watchko spent the last two seasons as Tech’s closer, compiling 12 saves and a 3.35 ERA in that capacity, before moving into a starting role this spring. He opened the season by earning a victory in his first start in nearly two years at Georgia Southern, and followed that with a six inning, one hit performance against Tennessee Tech last weekend.

In three career starts, Watchko is 3-0 with a 2.74 ERA (7 ER in 23 IP with 23 K’s).

*Sunday’s starter is listed as TBA. Possible candidates include junior right-hander Philip Perry (1-0, 0.00 ERA), who started last Sunday in the series finale against Tennessee Tech, sophomore righty Brian Burks (1-0, 2.00 ERA, 2 SV), the starter on Tuesday in Tech’s 12-1 win over Wofford, or one of several freshmen.


* Georgia Tech is 6-0 to start the 2002 campaign, the Yellow Jackets’ best start to a season since opening 1997 with 10 straight wins. 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 two games at Georgia Southern and stand at 18-for-19 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 just eight batters in 54 innings.

* Sophomore Kyle Bakker leads the Tech staff in BB/K ratio with 16 strikeouts and no walks in 14 innings. In fact, the big southpaw has gone to a three-ball count to just one batter in the 2002 season.

* Tech has used 14 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.


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.


The Atlantic Coast Conference’s nine head coaches selected Georgia Tech in fourth place in the conference in 2002. Tech tallied 56 points in the poll, just one point shy of third-place Wake Forest.

                   2002 ACC Pre-season Coaches Poll1.      Clemson (5)     772.      Florida State (4)       743.      Wake Forest     574.      GEORGIA TECH    565.      North Carolina  456.      NC State        337.      Duke    298.      Virginia        249.      Maryland        9


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 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.


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.


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.


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