April 9, 2009
ATLANTA – With the top four teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division all separated by just one game, the weekend series in Atlanta between league leader Georgia Tech (20-7, 9-4 ACC) and Virginia (27-6, 8-5 ACC), will be one to watch. Game times for the series between the 8th-ranked Yellow Jackets and 11th-ranked Cavaliers are 7 p.m. Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
The Jackets and Cavaliers are both coming off midweek series losses, and look to turn things around with big weekends at Russ Chandler Stadium. Tech handed Georgia Southern an 8-4 loss Tuesday before the Eagles scored back with a big win Wednesday night. Virginia had the same results – shutting out Stony Brook, 8-0, Tuesday before falling, 6-2, Wednesday. The Cavaliers are ranked as high as No. 11 (Collegiate Baseball) in this week’s polls.
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. 3 this season (the three weeks prior to this by Collegiate Baseball) and currently appear among the top-10 in the NCBWA (8), USA Today (8), Rivals.com (8) and Collegiate Baseball (9) polls. Georgia Tech is ranked No. 13 by Baseball America.
Pitching Matchup (Georgia Tech vs. Virginia)
Friday: RHP Deck McGuire (5-0, 2.36) vs. LHP Danny Hultzen (5-0, 2.17)
Saturday: RHP Zach Von Tersch (5-1, 5.45) vs. RHP Andrew Carraway (4-0, 2.14 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Brandon Cumpton (1-0, 5.85) vs. TBA
Friday’s matchup, which features two of the league’s top pitchers, will be available on ACC Select (www.accselect.com), while the first two games of the series can be heard on WREK Radio (91.1 FM in Atlanta/www.wrek.org). The series finale will be aired on AM 790 The Zone, and live stats for all Tech baseball games are available at Ramblinwreck.com.
Tech vs. Virginia (Tech leads, 62-37-1)
The Yellow Jacket and Cavalier baseball teams have met on 100 previous occasions, with Georgia Tech holding the 62-37-1 lead in the series. Although the two teams have split the last six series, 3-3, the Yellow Jackets have won 10 series whole posting a 29-18 record against the Cavaliers since head coach Danny Hall’s arrival in 1994. Georgia Tech is 33-13-1 against Virginia at home and won the last series in Atlanta, 2-1, in 2006. Due to scheduling issues with the ACC office, the Jackets played the last two series against Virginia in Charlottesville, including winning the 2008 series after losing the first game, 4-2. There hasn’t been a sweep in the series since 2005.
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 on the first weekend of conference play. The Yellow Jackets also won the single game they played against Boston College prior to the remainder of the series being rained out the following weekend. The Yellow Jackets have swept 63 weekend series since the conference adopted the current three-game round-robin format in 1987.
The Yellow Jackets had their streak of seven consecutive ACC series wins snapped by UNC last weekend, but has won four league series in 2009. Since 1987, Tech has won 120 of 180 (.667) ACC series, including 36 of its last 53 (.679) weekend series.
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.
This season, the Yellow Jackets have smacked an ACC-leading 50 home runs, which ranks 15th in the nation. Tech’s 50 homers have come in 27 games (the fewest played by any ACC school this season), to give the Yellow Jackets an average of 1.85 home runs per game – the seventh-best mark in the nation in 2009.
Playing With a Full Deck
With five wins in the first seven weeks of the season, Yellow Jacket ace Deck McGuire has improved to 13-1 in his career. His .929 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 59 strikeouts this season, which is tops in the ACC and ranks 11th in the nation.
Runs Rarely a Problem for Tersch
The last thing a pitcher wants to do is work seven or eight innings, holding opponents to one or two runs, and be losing the game. Yellow Jacket starter Zach Von Tersch hasn’t had to deal with that issue much this season though – the Yellow Jackets are averaging 11.7 runs per game in contests that he starts, including a 24-run explosion against Maryland. Tech scored in double figures (11, 13, 13, 24) each of the first four times the junior took the mound, and he held up his end of the bargain – giving up just eight runs through those four games. For the season, the Yellow Jackets have scored in double figures a total of five of the seven times the Cedar Falls native has taken the mound.