March 30, 2010
ATLANTA – Sophomore Mark Pope struck out a career-high 11 batters, and combined with the Georgia Tech bullpen to hold the nation’s top scoring team to just three runs in a 14-3 win over Georgia State Tuesday at the Field at Panthersville.
Georgia State entered the game ranked No. 1 in the country in scoring (13.2) and batting average (.379). Pope, along with senior Patrick Long and junior Taylor Wood held the Panthers to just three runs on eight hits as Tech improved to 22-2 season.
Pope (3-0) allowed just three runs, scattering seven hits over 7.0 innings for his third win of the season. His 11 strikeouts were two more than his previous high of nine, recorded two weeks ago against Georgia.
“Mark [Pope] pitched really well tonight,” head coach Danny Hall said. “He may have only made one bad pitch all night, the home run he gave up, but he finished strong and I was really proud of the way he pitched. This team [Georgia State] played in the NCAA tournament last year, so it was good to come over here and get a victory.”
The Tech offense was just as strong, producing its 13th double digit game of the season. The Jackets have recorded six in their last seven games. Tech had 12 hits against the Panthers.
“We had some good at-bats today, and that was key,” Hall added. “We have a lot of different players contributing right now, and that’s really a good sign.”
Senior Tony Plagman was 3-for-5 with a home run and two RBI on the evening. He hit his 10th round-tripper of the season, and the 44th of his career Tuesday. Juniors Chase Burnette and Jeff Rowland each chipped in with a pair of hits, Burnette adding a double and an RBI while Rowland a triple as he extended his hit streak to 11 games.
Tech jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, after Burnette hit a hard grounder to first that went under the glove of the Georgia State first baseman. Junior Cole Leonida and sophomore Matt Skole scored on the play that ran as an error on the Panthers.
Tech would then grab four hits, and capitalize on two Georgia State errors, one passed ball and a wild pitch to bring in seven more in the next frame. The Jackets scored four of the seven runs with two outs, and now have 88 two-out RBI on the season.
Pope’s only blemish on the mound came in the fourth inning, allowing an RBI single before a two-run home run to Georgia State’s Carter Sackett over the left field wall. It was just the first home run allowed by Pope all season.
He continued his solid performance on the mound into the seventh inning, retiring all three batters he faced before giving way to the bullpen in the eighth.
“I felt good today,” Mark Pope said. “I felt like I had more command of my fastball than I have recently, so I had that going for me. I know a couple of guys that play for Georgia State, so its fun playing against them. You just hope you can get the better of them every time.”
Plagman’s two-run shot in the ninth made it 12-3, before Skole blasted a two-run shot of his own to right center to close out the scoring. Skole’s deep shot was his seventh of the season. Six of Tech’s nine starters have at least six home runs, as the team has belted 52 on the season.
Long and Wood pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Pope, allowing just one hit to end the game.
The Jackets will finish midweek play Wednesday, with a 6 p.m. game against Kennesaw State at Stillwell Stadium.