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No. 8 Tech Baseball Hosts Georgia on Tuesday

May 13, 2002

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ATLANTA–Georgia Tech, the nation’s eighth-ranked team according to USA Today/Baseball Weekly, hosts rival Georgia for a non-conference tilt on Tuesday night at Russ Chandler Stadium. The game, part of a seven game homestand for the Yellow Jackets to close out the 2002 regular season, will begin at 7 p.m. and be televised live by Fox Sports Net South. A live radio broadcast will be available on WREK-Radio (91.1 FM in Atlanta) and on the internet at www.ramblinwreck.com, while live scoring and boxscores for all of Georgia Tech’s games in 2002 is available at www.ramblinwreck.com.

The Yellow Jackets stand at 41-11 overall and 12-8 in the Atlantic Coast Conference after taking two of three games last weekend from defending national champion Miami. Georgia enters Tuesday’s game with a 30-21 overall record and a 15-13 mark in the SEC after dropping two of three at Auburn last weekend.

Clemson (16-5 ACC) and North Carolina (16-5) stand just ahead of Wake Forest (15-5) in the ACC standings, while Florida State (15-6) and Georgia Tech round out the top five. All five schools are ranked among the top 15 in the nation this week.

The Tech offense is led by shortstop Victor Mencoal, who leads the squad in batting (.390), hits (82) and doubles (17). Outfielder Jeremy Slayden leads the team with 14 home runs, while leadoff hitter Eric Patterson leads the team in on base percentage (.471), stolen bases (31) and runs scored (58). As a team, Tech is batting .330 and averaging 8.5 runs per game.

The Tech pitching corps is led by a duo of sophomores in southpaw Kyle Bakker (9-2, 3.38 ERA) and righty Brian Burks (9-4, 3.65), as well as junior righty Jeff Watchko (8-1, 3.45).

SERIES VS. GEORGIA

Georgia leads Georgia Tech, 181-136-2, in a series that dates to 1898, but the Yellow Jackets own a 77-64-1 mark against the Bulldogs in games played in Atlanta. Tech is 21-13 against Georgia under head coach Danny Hall.

The series has been dominated recently by Georgia Tech, however. The Yellow Jackets went 14 straight years in which they had either won or split the regular season four-game series before the Bulldogs won the 2001 series, 2-1. The fourth game of the 2001 series was rained out in Atlanta. Since 1987, Tech is 40-21 against Georgia.

The Yellow Jackets have won two of three meetings with the Bulldogs in 2002, dropping a 7-1 decision in Athens on Mar. 26, winning 9-1 in Atlanta on Mar. 27 and 6-1 in Athens on Apr. 24. The 2002 series between the two teams has been dominated by pitching, as Tech is batting just .223 and Georgia is hitting .224. The Yellow Jackets are averaging 5.3 runs per game, while Georgia is averaging 3.0 runs per game.

VERSUS THE STATE OF GEORGIA

Georgia Tech owns a 10-1 mark against its in-state rivals this season. Tech’s lone loss came at Georgia on Mar. 26. The Yellow Jackets are 4-0 against Georgia Southern, 2-0 against both Mercer and Georgia State, and 2-1 against Georgia.

ON THE HILL . . .

*As a staff, Georgia Tech’s starting pitchers are a collective 32-6 with a 3.30 ERA in 52 games this season, while walking just 1.8 batters per nine innings. Tech starting pitchers are holding opponents to a .256 batting average.

* Freshman right hander Kyle Schmidt (9-2, 3.31 ERA) will start Tuesday night in what will be his 10th start of the season and his second start of the year against Georgia.

* Schmidt has been juggled between the weekend rotation and as a midweek starter this season, making five starts on the weekend and four starts during the week.

* The rookie earned a win against Georgia on Mar. 27 in Atlanta, holding the Bulldogs to one run on three hits in seven innings. He struck out five batters, but more importantly did not issue a walk.

* Schmidt has not allowed an earned run in his last two starts, a span of 11 innings against Virginia (Apr. 27) and Mercer (May 8).

* In four previous midweek starts against Georgia, Georgia Southern, Mercer and Eastern Kentucky, Schmidt is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA (2 ER in 24 IP).

SHORT HOPS

* Through 52 games, head coach Danny Hall has used 47 different starting lineups.

* Tech currently ranks third in the ACC in team ERA (3.96), less than one tenth of a run behind leader Clemson. The Yellow Jackets have never led the conference in that category since joining the ACC for the 1980 season.

* Tech is 28-3 at the new Russ Chandler Stadium in 2002, outscoring its opponents 281-127.

* Tech’s 14-1 mark to start the season was its best since opening the 1997 season with a 15-1 record. The school record for most wins with only one loss came in 1992 when the Yellow Jackets opened 24-1.

* After posting a 3-7 record in one-run games in 2001, Tech is 8-3 in games decided by one run and 15-4 in games decided by three runs or less in 2002.

* New pitching coach Bobby Moranda has stressed the importance of throwing strikes. Those efforts have been displayed this season where Tech pitchers have walked 126 batters in 463.2 innings (2.4 per 9 IP).

* Four freshmen – Eric Patterson (2B), Brandon Boggs (CF), Clifton Remole (1B), and Jeremy Slayden (DH) – were in the starting lineup on opening day. Additionally, Mike Nickeas (C, 1B, 3B), Jake Hall (3B), and Garrett Groce (OF) have all started at least one game in 2002, raising the total number of freshmen who have started to seven. A total of 15 freshmen have seen game action this season.

OFFENSE HEATS UP

As the weather has warmed up during the month of May, so has the Georgia Tech offense. In seven games in May, Georgia Tech is batting .395 as a team (105-for-266) and has scored 80 runs (11.4 per game). Those numbers are made even more impressive given that six of those seven games have come against the No. 1 ranked team in the country (Clemson) and the defending national champions (Miami).

SCHEDULE ODDITIES

Due to an unusual conference schedule in 2002, Georgia Tech played its final ACC road series the weekend of Apr. 19 at Florida State. The Yellow Jackets began the season with four of their first five league series on the road.

The Yellow Jackets play their remaining four games at home where they are 28-3 this season. Tech played its final road game at Mercer last Wednesday, while the Yellow Jackets will host North Carolina for three games and Georgia for one game.

SECOND LONGEST HOME WIN STREAK

Georgia Tech had its 27-game home winning streak snapped on Apr. 26 against Virginia in what was the second longest such streak in school history. The Yellow Jackets won their first 22 games in the new Russ Chandler Stadium this season and did not lose at home from April 28, 2001 through April 26, 2002. Listed below are Tech’s best home winning streaks:

Georgia Tech HOME WIN STREAKS1.      29 games        1989-902.      27 games        2001-20023.      23 games        1990-914.      21 games        1992

SECOND BEST RECORD AFTER 52 GAMES

Georgia Tech owns a 41-11 record after 52 games, tied for the second best record in school history through that number of games. Listed below are Tech’s best records through 52 games and what happened in the next three games:

Best Georgia Tech RECORDS AFTER 52 GAMES        Record  Year    Next Game1.      42-10   1993    1-0 (43-10)2.      41-11   1987    1-0 (42-11)        41-11   1997    1-0 (42-11)        41-11   2002    ????5.      40-12   1992    1-0 (41-12)        40-12   1994    1-0 (41-12)        39-13   2000    1-0 (40-13)

BAKKER, MURTON & PATTERSON INVITED TO TEAM USA TRIALS

Georgia Tech pitcher Kyle Bakker, outfielder Matt Murton and second baseman Eric Patterson were among 19 collegiate players invited to participate in the 2002 USA Baseball National Team Trials to be held in Tucson, Ariz., June 18-23. The USA National Team will be selected from a pool of approximately 35-40 players, of which an additional 16-21 have yet to be determined. Louisville’s Lelo Prado will serve as the head coach for Team USA. He will be assisted by Terry Alexander of Jacksonville, Sunny Golloway of Oral Roberts, and Terry Rupp of Maryland. The official team roster will be determined and announced on June 24.

SPEED ON THE BASES

With the loss of many of the top power hitters from last year’s team, Georgia Tech has relied more on speed this season. The Yellow Jackets were a perfect 11-for-11 in the stolen base department in the first two games of the season at Georgia Southern, and Tech now stands at 107-for-137 (78.1%) for the season. Tech stole just 68 bases during the entire 2002 season.

The Yellow Jackets are stealing an average of 2.06 bases per game this spring. The Tech record for stolen bases per game is 2.21, which was established in 1987 when the Jackets stole a school-record 144 bases.

Tech has stolen 100 bases as a team for the 10th time in school history. The 107 steals currently ranks as the seventh highest single season total in Tech history.

WINNING THE CLOSE ONES

One of the main reasons for Georgia Tech’s early exit from the NCAA Tournament last year was the struggles of the Yellow Jackets in close games. Tech posted just a 3-7 mark in one-run games and a 10-12 record in games decided by three runs or less during the 2001 season. This year, Tech is 8-3 in one-run games and 15-4 in games decided by three runs or less.

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