May 19, 2011
BLACKSBURG, Va. – Junior Jacob Esch recorded four hits to lead No. 8 Georgia Tech (38-16, 21-7 ACC) to an 11-4 series-opening win over Virginia Tech (29-24, 10-18 ACC) Thursday night at English Field.
Esch’s four hits tied a career high, and came as apart of a 14-hit attack from the Jackets. Eight of Tech’s nine starters recorded at least one hit, while junior Jake Davies, sophomore Sam Dove and freshman Zane Evans each chipped in with two base-knocks.
Junior Mark Pope (11-3) earned the win on the mound, scattering three runs (two earned) on seven hits over seven innings. He issued a career-high four walks, but recorded seven strikeouts on the night.
Esch’s first hit of the day came as a RBI double to centerfield in the third inning, and gave the Jackets a 1-0 lead off of Virginia Tech starter Joe Mantiply. It was his 21st double of the season, tying him for the conference lead.
The Hokies evened the score in the bottom half of the inning on Andrew Rash’s 18th home run of the season, a two-run blast to left field. It was just the fourth homer allowed all season by Pope.
Virginia Tech would go on to take its first lead of the game with an unearned run in the sixth inning. Third baseman Johnny Morales moved teammate Chad Morgan over to third base on a single to right field, but a fielding error by Georgia Tech right fielder Evan Martin scored Morgan to make it a 3-2 game.
Esch belted his fifth home run of the season, a solo shot in the seventh frame to tie the game at 3-3.
After walking freshman Daniel Palka with two outs later in the inning, Mantiply was replaced by right-hander Manny Martir.
Sophomore Sam Dove hit a grounder to third base that squeezed out of the glove of Morales on the next at-bat, scoring a pair of runs to give the Jackets a 5-3 lead. Freshman Zane Evans added another run with an RBI single to center in the same inning.
Mantiply (5-8) was credited with the runs and the loss allowing six runs on 10 hits over 6 2/3 innings.
The Jackets went on to break open the game with five runs in the eighth inning, highlighted by a 2-RBI single to left field by Evans.
The series continues at 5:30 p.m. on Friday.