Feb. 23, 2009
ATLANTA – Following a three-game sweep of Lipscomb on opening weekend, Georgia Tech’s ninth-ranked baseball team will travel to Statesboro for a two-game midweek series against Georgia Southern, which begins Tuesday at 6 p.m. at J.I. Clements Stadium. The Yellow Jackets and Eagles will continue the series at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Georgia Tech is a consensus preseason top-25 team, appearing among the top-15 in the Collegiate Baseball (9), USA Today (12), NCBWA (13) and Rivals.com (12) polls. The Yellow Jackets have earned preseason top-25 rankings in each of head coach Danny Hall’s 16 years on the Flats.
Georgia Tech returns 21 letterwinners from its 2008 squad, including seven starters in the field – CF Jeff Rowland (.417-1-3-2), SS Derek Dietrich (.200-1-5-1), RF Luke Murton (.545-0-4-0), C Jason Haniger (.250-0-0-0), 1B Tony Plagman (.133-0-2-1), 2B Thomas Nichols (.375-1-4-0) and LF Chris House (.000-0-0-0). Third baseman Patrick Long also returns for his junior season after batting .276 a season ago.
Game Coverage: Both games can be heard on WREK Radio (91.1 FM in Atlanta/www.wrek.org), while a live video broadcast of the series will be available online at www.georgiasoutherneagles.com for a small fee. Live stats for all Tech baseball games can be found at Ramblinwreck.com.
Tech vs. Southern (Tech leads, 80-25)
Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern have met every year for the last 26 seasons (1984-present) after beginning the series with a meeting in Atlanta in 1947. The Jackets hold an all-time record of 80-25 against the Eagles and are 34-12 vs. Georgia Southern in Statesboro. Tech is a remarkable 48-13 against the Eagles under head coach Danny Hall, with the Jackets’ last win in Statesboro coming on April 16 of last year, 14-8.
The Yellow Jackets have won the last five games against the Eagles, scoring in double figures in three of those five contests while limiting Georgia Southern to two or fewer runs on four occasions.
Georgia Tech vs. In-State Opponents
Georgia Tech went 11-3 against teams from the state of Georgia in 2008 and have 14 regular season games on the schedule against instate foes in 2009.
Since 1999, the Yellow Jackets own an 89-29 (.754) record against its in-state foes. In 15 years under head coach Danny Hall, Tech is 133-46 (.743) against teams from Georgia.
Can’t Nichols Be Both?
Hitter or pitcher? If in the lineup, where does Thomas Nichols go? Through the first three games of the season, he’s served as a relief pitcher, the left fielder, and the designated hitter. He came on in relief of Deck McGuire in the season opener against Lipscomb, working a scoreless inning. The following day he went 1-for-3 with solid play in the outfield. But his last game was by far his most impressive – the sophomore DH had two hits and drove in three runs, but his most important hit came in the form of a two-out, walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Georgia Tech a 5-3 win over Lipscomb.
Walk This Way
A .250 batting average isn’t the way that Patrick Long may have hoped to start the season, but the coaches aren’t worried about it since the junior infielder/pitcher leads the ACC with a .786 on base percentage. How is that possible, you may ask? Long earned nine walks and was hit by a pitch over the weekend – reaching base in 11 of his 14 plate appearances, including each of his first nine trips to the batters box.
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 four home runs on opening weekend, including a grand slam by sophomore shortstop Derek Dietrich, the Yellow Jackets look to be well on their way to another record-breaking season.
Guess the Lineup
Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall is known for mixing up his lineup, and 2009 has started off no different. The Yellow Jacket skipper has mixed up the lineup for each of the first three games of the season. (Lineups listed on page 12 of notes)
Holding Opponents to 6 or Less
Georgia Tech is 3-0 on the season when holding opponents to six or fewer runs after posting a 36-2 record in 2008 under the same circumstances.
The Yellow Jackets have scored over six runs in two of the three games this season and are averaging 9.0 runs per game in 2009.