Feb. 27, 2013
STATESBORO, Ga. – Junior Daniel Palka homered, matched his career high with four hits, drove in two runs and scored three times in leading No. 20 Georgia Tech past Georgia Southern, 14-8, Wednesday night at J.I. Clements Stadium in Statesboro as the Yellow Jackets swept the two-game midweek series.
Junior Zane Evans came up big again, getting it done at the plate and on the mound for Tech (8-1), which scored double-digit runs for the third-consecutive game and fifth time this season. Georgia Southern slipped to 4-4 overall.
Evans was 2-for-3, homered for fourth time in five games and nailed down the final six outs on the mound to close out the victory. The junior from Roswell, Ga., who was intentionally walked twice Wednesday after homering twice Tuesday, finished the two-game set 5-for-8 with three home runs, six RBI and five runs.
“They have a really good club and we had to battle both days to (sweep them)”, said head coach Danny Hall. “Today’s game was similar to yesterday. We got the lead, they came back and then Dusty Isaacs really settled it tonight. DeAndre (Smelter) gave us a good inning and Zane threw two. The bullpen saved the day for us.”
Palka was 4-for-5, was a triple shy of the cycle and also scored three times. The junior from Lyman, S.C. is hitting a team-best .559 for the season and has hit safely in eight consecutive games. Every starter had at least a hit as the Yellow Jackets collected 15 as a team, seven for extra bases. Palka, Evans and Sam Dove all hit solo home runs.
“He (Palka) is a tough out,” said Hall. “He continues to the swing the bat well. He’s got guys behind him and in front of him swinging well, so he’s getting pitches to hit and he’s capitalizing.”
It was a back-and-fourth game early as the Yellow Jackets scored in the first inning for the sixth time this season, but watched as GSU came right back with three in the bottom half. Tech rallied for the tie in the second, then capitalized on three Eagle errors in the third to score four times and take a 7-4 lead.
The solo shots by Dove and Palka in fourth inning that stretched Tech’s lead to 9-4 would be crucial as GSU scored four times in the bottom half but could get no closer.
Isaacs emerged from the bullpen, retired the six batters he faced in succession and settled a rocky first four innings by Tech pitching. After allowing eight runs on eight hits through four, the trio of Isaacs, DeAndre Smelter and Evans limited the Eagles to no runs and two hits over the final five innings.
Just a one-run game in the seventh, Tech began to distance itself with a Matt Gonzalez RBI. Brandon Thomas and Palka drove in runs in the eighth, Evans’ solo shot led off the ninth and a sacrifice fly from Connor Lynch capped the scoring.
Gonzalez tripled and finished with three RBI, while Lynch and Thomas each had two hits.
Evan Challenger was on the hook for seven runs (three earned) and six hits in three innings and was hung the loss. Reliever Jonathan Roberts worked 2.1 innings in relief of starter Sam Clay and was credited with his first career win.
The Jackets are back home Friday to open a three-game series with Rutgers at Russ Chandler Stadium. Friday’s game is set for 6 p.m. live on ESPN3.