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No. 9 Tech Baseball Hosts Miami In Weekend Series

May 9, 2002

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ATLANTA–Georgia Tech, the nation’s ninth-ranked team according to USA Today/Baseball Weekly, hosts defending national champion Miami for a three-game non-conference series this weekend at Russ Chandler Stadium. The series, the third of four straight home weekends for the Yellow Jackets to close out the 2002 regular season, begins on Friday at 7 p.m. and continues on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

The games on Friday and Saturday will be televised live by Fox Sports Net South. All three games this weekend will be carried live 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 39-10 overall and 12-8 in the Atlantic Coast Conference after taking two of three games last weekend from top-ranked Clemson. Miami enters the weekend with a 24-23 overall record after winning two of three from Bethune-Cookman last weekend.

Wake Forest (15-5 ACC) currently leads Clemson (13-5) and North Carolina (13-5) in the ACC standings, while Florida State (12-6) 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 (.388), hits (78) and doubles (16). Outfielder Jeremy Slayden leads the team with 14 home runs, while leadoff hitter Eric Patterson leads the team in on base percentage (.467), stolen bases (30) and runs scored (53). As a team, Tech is batting .328 and averaging 8.5 runs per game.

The Tech pitching corps is led by a duo of sophomores in southpaw Kyle Bakker (9-2, 3.31 ERA) and righty Brian Burks (9-3, 3.30), as well as junior righty Jeff Watchko (7-1, 3.50).

SERIES VS. MIAMI

Miami leads Georgia Tech, 30-12-2, in a series that dates to 1958, including a 9-6 record in games played in Atlanta. The Hurricanes have dominated the series in recent years, winning 12 of the last 14 games between 1991 and 2000.

Tech and Miami last met in May of 2000, where the Hurricanes took two of three games in Coral Gables (2-10, 3-2, and 7-5). Miami last came to Atlanta in 1998, and again took two of three (7-22, 8-5, and 9-8).

Tech is 2-7 against Miami under head coach Danny Hall.

JIM MORRIS HOMECOMING

Miami head coach Jim Morris returns to Georgia Tech this weekend, a place where he spent 12 years as the Yellow Jackets’ head baseball coach (1982-1993). Morris complied a 504-244-1 (.674) record as Tech’s head coach and he still stands as the winningest coach in school history in any sport. Inducted into the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame in 1999, Morris led Tech to four ACC Championships and nine consecutive NCAA Regionals in his 12 years at the helm.

Morris was instrumental in helping build the original Russ Chandler Stadium in 1985, although he will not recognize the new facility as this weekend will mark his first visit to the newly rebuilt and modernized Russ Chandler Stadium.

The Yellow Jackets have continued their winning ways under current head coach Danny Hall, advancing to the NCAA Regionals seven times in the last eight years and earning their first College World Series berth in 1994. Combined, Morris and Hall have been responsible for 887 victories over the past 21 years at Georgia Tech, an average of 42 wins per season, as well as 16 trips to the NCAA Tournament.

ON THE HILL . . .

*As a staff, Georgia Tech’s starting pitchers are a collective 32-5 with a 3.12 ERA in 49 games this season, while walking just 1.8 batters per nine innings. Tech starting pitchers are holding opponents to a .248 batting average.

* Sophomore southpaw Kyle Bakker (9-2, 3.31 ERA) will start the first game of the series of Friday night, making his 14th consecutive series opening start.

* Bakker was Tech’s No. 3 starter for much of the stretch run of the 2001 season before being sidelined with stiffness in his left arm for all of the Yellow Jackets’ postseason games.

* The big southpaw, who is the tallest player in the ACC at 6-9, has taken over as the No. 1 starter in 2002, and he has wins over Georgia Southern, Tennessee Tech, Coastal Carolina and Winthrop – all teams that won games in the 2001 NCAA Tournament – in addition to Georgia State, Gardner-Webb, NC State, Duke and Maryland.

* In 17 career starts, Bakker is 12-3 with a 3.25 ERA in 116.1 IP (42 ER). His list of victories over the last two years includes Georgia Southern (twice), Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Tennessee Tech, Coastal Carolina and Winthrop, all teams that won at least one game in the NCAA Regionals in 2001.

* This season at Russ Chandler Stadium, Bakker is 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA (19 ER in 47.0 IP) in five starts. In nine career starts at home, Bakker is 8-1 with a 3.09 ERA (23 ER in 67.0 IP).

* Despite his success this season, Bakker is winless in his last three starts after going 9-0 in his first 10 starts. In those last three starts against Florida State, Virginia and Clemson, Bakker is 0-2 with a 5.49 ERA (12 ER in 19.2 IP). He was a hard-luck loser at Florida State (4 ER in 8 IP) and against Virginia (3 ER in 8 IP) before struggling to the shortest start of his career last weekend against Clemson (5 ER in 3.2 IP). (see additional notes on next page).

* Sophomore righty Brian Burks (9-3, 3.30 ERA) is the scheduled starter on Saturday night in the second game of the series in what will be his 10th start and 19th overall appearance in 2002.

* Burks has been the workhorse of the Tech pitching staff this season, being used as both a starter (8-1 record in nine starts) and a closer (team-high three saves) out of the bullpen.

* Burks missed two weeks (from April 6 to April 20) due to a strained muscle in his back, but he has returned to action last week with three straight wins over Mercer on Apr. 23 (5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K), Virginia on Apr. 28 (7.0 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K), and Clemson on May 5 (6.0 IP, 11 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K).

* In three starts against the ACC this season, Burks is 3-0 with a 2.86 ERA. He tossed a nine-inning, complete game shutout at NC State (Mar. 30), the first by a Tech pitcher since 1998, before earning wins over Virginia and Clemson in the last two weeks.

* Junior righty Chris Goodman (6-0, 3.38 ERA) is the scheduled starter on Sunday afternoon in the series finale in what will be his eighth start and 16th overall appearance in 2002.

* Goodman has been used as both a starter and reliever this season, although he has been much more effective in a starting role. In seven starts, Goodman is 5-0 with a 2.76 ERA, while in eight relief appearances he is 1-0 with a 6.10 ERA.

* A former shortstop, Goodman has displayed uncanny control on the mound for someone who had never pitched an inning in college prior to this season. He has walked just eight batters in 56 innings (1.29 walks per nine inning). That figure ranks as the second highest on the team, trailing only Jeff Watchko (1.12 walks per nine innings).

* Goodman has been Tech’s most impressive starting pitcher over the last three weeks. In his last four starts against Western Carolina, Auburn, Georgia and Clemson, Goodman is 4-0 with a 1.19 ERA (4 ER in 30.1 IP) while walking just three batters. In his last two starts, wins over Georgia and Clemson, Goodman is 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA (1 ER in 15.1 IP).

SHORT HOPS

* Through 49 games, head coach Danny Hall has used 45 different starting lineups.

* Tech currently leads the ACC in team ERA (3.82). The Yellow Jackets have never led the conference in that category since joining the ACC for the 1980 season.

* Tech is 26-2 at the new Russ Chandler Stadium in 2002, outscoring its opponents 256-103.

* 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 7-3 in games decided by one run and 14-4 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 117 batters in 437.2 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.

INSIDE THE “RPI”

Although the NCAA does not release the official Ratings Percentage Index that the baseball committee uses to determine the tournament field of 64 and the regional seedings, mathematician Boyd Nation does his best to reproduce the RPI each week throughout the season. His “pseudo-RPI” numbers are calculated using the formula that the NCAA used during the 2001 season.

BOYD'S WORLD PSEUDO-RPI (as of 5/5)1.  Clemson           .690     11. North Carolina      .6232.  Wake Forest       .669     12. Georgia             .6143.  Florida State     .641     13. LSU                 .6134.  Georgia Tech      .640     14. Louisiana-Lafayette .6105.  South Carolina    .639     15. Texas               .6076.  Houston           .6317.  Stanford          .629     40. Virginia            .5718.  Florida           .627     43. NC State            .5709.  Rice              .626     51. Maryland            .56110. Alabama           .625     84. Duke                .534

GEORGIA TECH vs. RPI Top 10: 2-7 Upcoming Opponents: GEORGIA TECH vs. RPI Top 25: 7-8 Miami (#27) GEORGIA TECH vs. RPI Top 10: 12-9 Georgia (#12) GEORGIA TECH vs. RPI Top 10: 18-10 North Carolina (#11)

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 all of their remaining seven games at home where they are 26-2 this season. Tech played its final road game at Mercer last Wednesday, while the Yellow Jackets will host Miami and North Carolina for three games each in addition to a single game with Georgia.

MORE ON BAKKER

Kyle Bakker posted a 9-0 record in his first 10 starts in 2002 before suffering his first loss at Florida State despite a complete-game effort (Tech lost 4-3). Listed below are the best records by a Tech pitcher to start a season: Best Record By Georgia Tech Pitchers to Start a Season

        Player          Year    Record  Finished1.      Scott Erwin     1988    13-0    13-02.      Brad Rigby      1993    11-0    13-13.      L.J. Yankosky   1998    10-0    11-14.      Mike Schisler   1973    9-0     9-0        Kris Wilson     1997    9-0     12-2        Kyle Bakker   2002    9-0

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.

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

SECOND BEST RECORD AFTER 49 GAMES

Georgia Tech owns a 39-10 record after 49 games, tied for the second best record in school history through that number of games. Listed below are Tech’s best records through 49 games and what happened in the next three games:

Best Georgia Tech RECORDS AFTER 49 GAMES        Record  Year    Next Three Games1.      40-9    1993    2-1 (42-10)2.      39-10   1997    2-1 (41-11)        39-10   2002    ????4.      38-11   1987    3-0 (41-11)        38-11   1992    2-1 (40-12)        38-11   1994    2-1 (40-12)        38-11   2000    1-2 (39-13)Note: Tech went 31-6 for the entire 1971 season.

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 100-for-128 (78.1%) for the season. Tech stole just 68 bases during the entire 2002 season.

The Yellow Jackets are stealing an average of 2.04 bases per game this spring. The Tech record for stolen bases per game is 2.21, which was established during the 1987 season when the Jackets stole a school-record 144 bases.

Tech has stolen 100 bases as a team for the 10th time in school 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 10-121 record in games decided by three runs or less during the 2001 season. This year, Tech is 7-3 in one-run games and 14-4 in games decided by three runs or less.

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