May 8, 2009
ATLANTA – Tony Plagman went 5-for-5 with a home run and drove in three runs, while Deck McGuire shook off a tough first inning to remain undefeated, lifting No. 8 Georgia Tech past No. 6 Florida State, 12-3, Friday night in the opener of a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference series at Russ Chandler Stadium.
Tech (32-11-1, 15-7-1 ACC) won its fourth straight game and edged past North Carolina, 3-0 losers to NC State Friday night, by percentage points into first place in the ACC’s Coastal Division. FSU (35-13, 18-8 ACC), which holds first place in the Atlantic Division, came in with a 14-game winning streak, and had beaten Tech six straight times over the past two seasons.
The teams meet again at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s game is being televised on FS South, Sunday’s on SportSouth. Both games can be heard on radio on WQXI-AM (790).
“This is a good start to the weekend, but now we need to come out and play well tomorrow,” said Tech coach Danny Hall. “They are a good team. They won 14 in a row, so we’ll need to keep playing well to beat them.”
The Yellow Jackets spotted the Seminoles three runs in the first, then McGuire and three relievers held FSU scoreless over the last eight innings while Tech chipped away and took the lead with a five-run fifth.
The rally rewarded a gutsy effort by Tech starter McGuire (9-0), who after allowing five hits in the first inning, permitted just two more through the sixth inning. He finished the game with six strikeouts, two walks, seven hits and three runs on his ledger.
“I was very impressed by the way Deck McGuire handled himself after the first inning,” said Hall. “Then we kept battling. I thought we had some good at-bats and some pretty good looks on (Sean) Gilmartin.”
Kevin Jacob, Zach Brewster and Andrew Robinson each threw a scoreless inning and allowed the Seminoles just two hits over the final three innings. The four Jacket pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts, and helped improve Tech’s record to 26-4-1 this season when it holds its opponent to four runs or fewer.
The first five Tech batters reached in the decisive fifth against FSU starter Gilmartin (9-2). Jason Garofalo and Jeff Rowland started the rally with singles before Gilmartin hit Derek Dietrich to load the bases. Luke Murton and Plagman followed with RBI-singles, scoring Garofalo and Rowland, putting the Yellow Jackets ahead, 4-3. Jason Haniger drove in Dietrich with a sacrifice fly to make it 5-3.
After Matt Skole struck out and Chris House walked, designated hitter Martin blooped a single to right-center field to score Murton and Plagman, giving the Jackets a 7-3 lead. When the Yellow Jackets score four or more runs in an inning this season, they are 19-2.
Gilmartin, a freshman, pitched into the seventh before being chased by a Tech home run barrage. He allowed 10 runs, eight earned, and 10 hits.
Tech played long ball to score three more runs in the seventh inning and two in the eighth. Plagman hit a solo shot, his 14th of the season, and Skole added a two-run blast, his 13th, in the seventh to make the score 10-3. Haniger parked his eighth of the season, a two-run shot, in the eighth for the Yellow Jackets’ final runs of the night.
That blast gave the Yellow Jackets 92 for the season, which ranks seventh in the nation this year and ties for the seventh-most in a season in Tech history. The Jackets are 31-6 in 2009 when they hit a home run.
The Seminoles struck quickly in the first, with the first four batters reaching base via hit. Tyler Holt led off the game with a single, and Stephen Cardullo followed with his ninth homer of the year. Mike McGee and Jason Stidham singled, and McGee scored on a double-play grounder.
The Yellow Jackets clawed back with single runs in the second and third innings before breaking through for the big fifth. Plagman led off the second with a single and eventually came around to score on a fielder’s choice grounder to get Tech within 3-1. He singled in Rowland, who had reached on an error to lead off the third, making the score 3-2.