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No. 9 Tech Baseball Hosts No. 1 Clemson

May 2, 2002

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ATLANTA–Georgia Tech, the nation’s ninth-ranked team according to USA Today/Baseball Weekly, hosts top-ranked Clemson for a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference series this weekend at Russ Chandler Stadium. The series, the second of four straight home weekends for the Yellow Jackets to close out the 2002 regular season, begins on Saturday at 7 p.m. due to final examinations this week. The Yellow Jackets and Tigers will continue the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. and Monday at 7 p.m.

Saturday night’s game will mark the official dedication of the new Russ Chandler Stadium. A pre-game ceremony, featuring several guests including Russ Chandler, will take place to celebrate the building of the new facility.

Sunday’s game 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 36-9 overall and 10-7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference after taking two of three games last weekend from Virginia. Clemson enters the weekend with a 38-6 overall record and a 12-3 mark in ACC play following two wins in three games against Wake Forest last weekend. The Tigers currently lead Wake Forest (15-5 ACC) and North Carolina (13-5) in the ACC standings, while Florida State (9-6) and Georgia Tech round out the top five. All five schools are ranked among the top 15 in the nation.

The Tech offense is led by shortstop Victor Mencoal, who leads the squad in hits (67) and doubles (15) while ranking second in batting (.368). Outfielder Jeremy Slayden leads the team with 13 home runs and 42 RBI, while leadoff hitter Eric Patterson leads the team in batting average (.389), on base percentage (.471) and stolen bases (29). As a team, Tech is batting .320 and averaging more than eight runs per game.

The Tech pitching corps is led by a duo of sophomores in southpaw Kyle Bakker (9-2, 2.94 ERA) and righty Brian Burks (8-3, 3.06), as well as junior righty Jeff Watchko (7-1, 3.52).

SERIES VS. CLEMSON

Clemson leads Georgia Tech, 83-82-3, in a series that dates to 1902. The series has been especially tight over the last five years, with the Yellow Jackets holding a slight 9-8 edge. Tech is 12-17 against Clemson under head coach Danny Hall.

Last year in Clemson, the Tigers took two of three games from the Yellow Jackets. Clemson won 3-0 on Friday behind a three-hitter from Steve Reba and took a 5-1 win on Saturday behind a strong pitching performance from Jarrod Schmidt. Tech rallied for a 5-3 win on Sunday thanks to a strong pitching effort from Kyle Bakker.

Two years ago, Tech won two of three games in Atlanta during the regular season before claiming two wins over Clemson in the ACC Tournament in Fort Mill, S.C., including an 8-4 win in the championship game.

ON THE HILL . . .

*As a staff, Georgia Tech’s starting pitchers are a collective 29-5 with a 3.07 ERA in 45 games this season, while walking just 1.7 batters per nine innings. Tech starting pitchers are holding opponents to a .246 batting average.

* Sophomore southpaw Kyle Bakker (9-2, 2.94 ERA) will start the first game of the series of Saturday night, making his 13th 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 16 career starts, Bakker is 12-3 with a 2.81 ERA in 112.2 IP (37 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 2.89 ERA (14 ER in 43.2 IP) in five starts. In nine career starts at home, Bakker is 8-1 with a 2.54 ERA (18 ER in 63.2 IP).

* Last year against Clemson, Bakker led Tech to a 5-3 win in the series finale on Sunday. His pitching line: 8.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K.

* Saturday’s starter is TBA.

* Sophomore righty Brian Burks (8-3, 2.97 ERA) is the scheduled starter on Monday night in the series finale in what will be his ninth start and 18th overall appearance in 2002.

* Burks has been the workhorse of the Tech pitching staff this season, being used as both a starter (7-1 record in eight 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 returned to action last week with two wins over Mercer on Apr. 23 (5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) and Virginia on Apr. 28 (7.0 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K)

* In two starts against the ACC, Burks is 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA. He tossed a nine-inning, complete game shutout at NC State (Mar. 30), the first by a Tech pitcher since 1998, before earning the win over Virginia last week.

SHORT HOPS

* Through 45 games, head coach Danny Hall has used 42 different lineups.

* Tech is currently second in the ACC in team ERA (3.63). The Yellow Jackets have never led the conference in that category since joining the ACC for the 1980 season.

* Tech is 24-1 at the new Russ Chandler Stadium in 2002, outscoring its opponents 221-85.

* 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 6-3 in games decided by one run and 13-3 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 107 batters in 401.2 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.

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 10 of their remaining 11 games at home where they are 24-1 this season. Tech’s lone road game is at Mercer on May 8, while the Yellow Jackets will host Clemson, Miami and North Carolina for three games each in addition to a single game with Georgia.

SECOND LONGEST HOME WIN STREAK

Georgia Tech had its 27-game home winning streak snapped last Friday night 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 STREAKS 1. 29 games 1989-90 2. 27 games 2001-2002 3. 23 games 1990-91 4. 21 games 1992

SECOND BEST RECORD AFTER 45 GAMES

Georgia Tech owns a 36-9 record after 45 games, tied for the second best record in school history through that number of games. Listed below are Tech’s best records through 45 games and what happened in the next three games:

Best Georgia Tech RECORDS AFTER 45 GAMES    Record  Year   Next Three Games1.  37-8    1987   1-2 (38-10)2.  36-9    2002   ????    36-9    1997   2-1 (38-10)    36-9    1993   3-0 (39-9)    36-9    1992   2-1 (38-10)6.  35-10   2000   2-1 (37-11)    35-10   1994   2-1 (37-11)

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 96-for-121 (79.3%) for the season. Tech stole just 68 bases during the entire 2002 season.

The Yellow Jackets are stealing an average of 2.13 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.

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 14-3 in games decided by three runs or less.

HOME SWEET HOME

Georgia Tech opened its new ballpark in grand fashion, winning its first 22 games in the new Russ Chandler Stadium and posting a 24-1 overall record in the friendly confines. In those home games, the Yellow Jackets are batting .329 and averaging 8.8 runs per game. The Tech pitching staff has a 2.57 ERA and is holding opponents to a .242 batting average.

   Best Tech Home Starts to a Season1.  28-0  19902.  22-0  20023.  21-0  19914.  12-0  19835.  11-0  1999

ATTENDANCE RECORDS FALL

Georgia Tech has opened the newly rebuilt Russ Chandler Stadium for the 2002 season, and the fans have made their way through the turnstiles in record numbers thus far this spring.

An opening day record crowd of 1,814 attended the first game at the new Russ Chandler Stadium on Feb. 15 against Tennessee Tech. A total of 4,828 fans attended the series, making it the largest three-game attendance for a series before April in Georgia Tech history. It was the second largest three-game figure for a non-conference series in school history.

A Chandler Stadium regular-season crowd of 4,264 attended Tech’s game versus Georgia on Mar. 27. That marked the second highest single-game attendance in school history (4,468 vs. Southern California in the 2000 NCAA Atlanta Super Regional stands as the record).

WIN NO. 500 AT THE “RUSTY C”

Georgia Tech won its 500th game at Russ Chandler Stadium on Apr. 2 vs. Georgia Southern with a 4-3, 10-inning victory. The Yellow Jackets have an all-time record of 510-126 (.802) at Russ Chandler Stadium. Originally built in 1985, the Yellow Jackets had a 485-125 record at the old facility and now own a 24-1 mark at the new facility.

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