March 6, 2015
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
Winners of four straight and five of six, Georgia Tech hosts Notre Dame this weekend in the conference opener for both teams. The series, which features two of the hottest teams in the ACC, is the first between the schools as conference rivals and is the first in the Danny Hall Era. First pitch Friday is at 4p.m., Saturday’s game starts at 2p.m.and Sunday’s finale begins at 1p.m.
The Jackets had to work overtime to extend their winning streak, going 12 innings to knock off Ohio, 7-6, Tuesday night at Russ Chandler Stadium. Brandon Gold went 3-for-6, with two RBI and scored the game-winning run, Thomas Smith and Connor Justus each had two hits, and A.J. Murray, who is tied for second in the ACC with 17 RBI, and Kel Johnson, whose 15 RBI tie him for fifth in the ACC, each scored twice. Zach Ryan (2-0) got the win, throwing four innings of scoreless, one-hit relief. Starter Devin Stanton pitched 4 ⅓ innings allowing one run on five hits, striking out three, but did not factor in the decision. Tech led 3-0 and 6-2 but the Bobcats scored four in the seventh to forge a tie and send the game to extras. In the 12th, Gold led off with a single and scored all the way from first when Wade Bailey’s sacrifice bunt was thrown away.
The Fighting Irish continued their hot streak, sweeping all three games at last weekend’s Mercer Baseball Classic in Macon. Playing with heavy hearts after learning of the passing of long-time school president Father Theodore Hesburgh, N.D. came from behind to beat Belmont, 6-4, on Friday, scoring two in the seventh and two in the eighth then holding off the Bruins. They then swept Saturday’s doubleheader. In the opener the Irish blasted five home runs in routing Mercer, 8-2. Two of the round-trippers came off the bat of Cavan Biggio, 2015 Baseball Hall of Famer Craig Biggio’s youngest son and the ACC’s leading hitter (.525) and hits leader (21), who also scored three runs and drove in three runs (Conor, Cavan’s older brother, also plays for Notre Dame ). In the nightcap, the Irish rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth to edge Akron, 5-4.
All three games this weekend can be seen on ESPN3 with “Voice of the Jackets” Brandon Gaudin and former Jackets two-sport star Roddy Jones on the call. Jackets fans can hear every pitch on WREK 91.1 FM, with Wiley Ballard in the booth. The game will be streamed on RamblinWreck.com and live stats are available on Gametracker.
LET’S PLAY BALL!
Friday: Jonathan King, LHP (2-0, 3.38) vs. Scott Kerrigan, RHP (1-1, 3.18), 4 p.m.
Saturday: Cole Pitts, RHP (0-0, 2.25) vs. Brandon Bielak, RHP (2-0, 3.45), 2 p.m.
Sunday: Brandon Gold, RHP (1-0,1.26) vs. Nick McCarty, RHP (2-0, 1.74), 1p.m.
For the Record: Georgia Tech is 6-4 all-time against Notre Dame, in a series that dates back to 1924. All 10 games have been played in Atlanta but the series has seen three 30-year breaks. The Fighting Irish won the inaugural game, 4-3 on April 13, 1924. From there it has been streaky, as the Jackets won the next three games (1925, and both in `26), Notre Dame took the next three (a pair in `30 and the first of a two-game set in April 1966) and Tech has won the most recent three (the finale of the two-game series in `66, and both games in February, 1996). Georgia Tech has outscored Notre Dame 68-35 in the series, with its six wins coming by a total of 40 runs. Notre Dame’s four series wins have been by a total of seven. Jackets pitching has held the Irish bats in check, allowing more than five runs one time, while the Jackets have scored more than five seven times.
Wade To Go!: Freshman Wade Bailey had big shoes to fill in replacing Mott Hyde at second base, but so far, has done a tremendous job doing so. He heads into this weekend hitting .326 (fourth on the team), with 15 hits (third), nine runs scored (tied for fourth), and 17 total bases (fourth). Bailey is 2-for-2 in stolen bases, one of four Jackets with multiple steals who has yet to be caught. He’s also one of the hottest hitters in the Jackets order, as he’s hit safely in five of the last seven games and has scored five times in his last three games. The freshman’s ability to do the little things has made him invaluable, as, against Ohio, his ability to get down a sacrifice bunt led to the throwing error that allowed Brandon Gold to score the winning run. Defensively, Bailey, who has started all 12 games at second, has been superb. He’s fielding .967, with two errors in 58 chances, and is a big reason why the Jackets rank third in the ACC in fielding percentage (.975). He was perfect in eight chances against Ohio, making four putouts and assisting on four other plays.
The Ryan Express: Sophomore reliever Zac Ryan is on top of his game and has become just about unhittable late. Ryan has not allowed a run and has given up only one hit over his last four appearances, covering seven innings. The four straight scoreless appearances is a career-best (he had a three-game shutout streak last season). His last outing was a four-inning stint Tuesday against Ohio — his longest career appearance as a reliever — when he faced one batter over the minimum and retired the last six hitters he faced. Over those four games Ryan has allowed only three hitters to reach base, only one by hit (the others came against Auburn when he walked one and hit another). Zac has not allowed a run in six of his seven appearances this season (the only game in which he’s been scored upon was the Feb. 21 game against Florida International, which touched him for four runs, three of them earned, on five hits. Pounding the strike zone has been the key, as Ryan has struck out 13 batters this season, while walking only two.
Tech-nicalities: Sophomore catcher Arden Pabst is throwing out potential base-stealers at a nearly unheard of 80 percent, having thrown out 8 of 10 on the season. The combination of Pabst and A.J. Murray leads the ACC with 12 CS’s, that’s five more than the nearest team. Only seven runners have had success stealing against the Jackets, tied for third lowest in the conference, one behind the leaders. Pabst and Murray also have been rock solid as receivers, as neither has been charged with a passed ball.
On Deck: Georgia Tech looks to complete the season sweep against Georgia Southern for the first time since 2010, hosting the Eagles Tuesday night (first pitch at 6 p.m.), then plays its first conference road series over the weekend, traveling to Durham, N.C., to take on Duke. Notre Dame stays in Georgia, playing a midweek game at Savannah State on Wednesday then, over the weekend, has its second consecutive conference road series, visiting Clemson.
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