Feb. 18, 2012
ROCK HILL, S.C. – Sophomore C Mitch Earnest pounded out three hits and drove in two runs for No. 9 Georgia Tech, which won its third-straight game by beating Winthrop, 5-3, Saturday night to wrap up the Rock Hill Coca-Cola Classic in Rock Hill, S.C.
Earnest finished his best game as a Jacket 3-for-3, drove in two runs, and scored the eventual game-winning tally in the seventh. Junior Sam Dove had two hits and freshman Cole Pitts fired four innings of relief to pick up his first career win.
“I feel good particularly after losing that first game and then winning three in a row,” said head coach Danny Hall. “Playing back-to-back doubleheaders is not easy but I felt we handled it well. We found a way to win tonight when we certainly weren’t at the top of our game.”
Pitts emerged with a 2-2 deadlock in the top of the fifth and quickly weaseled his way out of a bases-loaded jam when he rolled a 4-6-3 double play to preserve the tie. Tech (3-1) took the lead for good in the seventh, and Pitts slammed the door in the eighth with back-to-back strikeouts after Winthrop (0-3) got one back.
“Cole pitched well tonight,” said Hall. “He pitched out of a tough jam coming right in with the bases loaded and no out and he got out of it. He got a big double play and Dove made a nice play and (Connor) Winn turned it. He really settled in and threw well after that.”
Sophomore Zane Evans notched his first career save, putting the Eagles down in order in the ninth with two punch outs. Pitts fanned five with no walks in his four innings of work, allowing just three hits after starter DeAndre Smelter scattered five hits and two runs (one earned) over the first four innings.
Earnest got things started in the decisive seventh with a double to left and later scored the go-ahead run on Brandon Thomas’ single to right. Thomas eventually scored thanks to an Evans base hit. Earnest expanded Tech’s lead to 5-2 in the eighth, scoring Dove with a single.
The game was a tug-of-war early as Tech drew first blood, capitalizing on a game-opening off walk issued to Kyle Wren. He moved to second on a ground out and scored when Palka tomahawked a double to the gap in right.
Winthrop drew even in the bottom half of the first, but Tech regained the lead in the second thanks to a sac fly from Earnest that scored Connor Winn, who doubled and moved to third on a wild pitch.
TJ Olexczuk finished 4-for-4 and scored twice for Winthrop and Michael Knox was hung the loss.
Georgia Tech is back in action Wednesday night at Georgia Southern. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. and the game can be heard live on WREK Radio 91.1 FM in Atlanta.