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Riding Six-Game Winning Streak, Jackets Host EKU Duke

This Week in Tech Baseball
Tuesday: *EASTERN KENTUCKY, 7 p.m.
Wednesday: EASTERN KENTUCKY, 7 p.m.
Friday: DUKE, 7 p.m.
Saturday: *DUKE [FSNS], 7:30 p.m.
Sunday: *DUKE, 1:30 p.m.
*Radio broadcast on WREK (91.1 FM)
FSNS: televised by Fox Sports Net South

ATLANTA (March 20) – Riding a six-game winning streak, highlighted by a three-game sweep of second-ranked North Carolina, the Georgia Tech baseball team continues its homestand with five games this week at Russ Chandler Stadium.

The Yellow Jackets (15-6 overall, 3-0 ACC) host Eastern Kentucky on Tuesday (3/21) and Wednesday (3/22) at 7 p.m. before Atlantic Coast Conference rival Duke visits for three games this weekend on Friday (3/24) at 7 p.m., Saturday (3/25) at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m..

Saturday night’s game against the Blue Devils will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Net South, with Wes Durham and Randy Carroll announcing.

Eastern Kentucky (8-10) comes to Atlanta after a three-game sweep of Austin Peay, including 23 innings of shutout pitching by the EKU staff during a doubleheader last Saturday. One of the stars for the Colonels is Adam Basil, brother of Jackets’ outfielder Jason Basil (West Chester, Ohio).

“Jason’s brother is one of the key players at Eastern Kentucky,” said head coach Danny Hall. “I know that will be motivation for Jason, and hopefully that will transfer to everyone on the team.”

Hall expects either sophomore righthander Kevin Cameron (Joliet, Ill.), 2-1, 2.95 ERA, or freshman righty Phillip Perry (Marietta, Ga.), 0-0, 2.79, to make his first start in Tuesday’s game. Both have had success coming out of the bullpen this season. Sophomore Steve Kelly (Fairfield, Ohio), 1-1, 6.65 ERA, will get the call on Wednesday against the Colonels.

Duke (8-19, 0-3 ACC) took two of three from Brown last weekend after being swept in its initial ACC series by Florida State two weeks ago.

“Every series in the ACC is important,” said Hall. “With this series against Duke this weekend, we can get off to a really great start in the league.”

Junior southpaw Cory Vance (Vandalia, Ohio), 4-1, 3.24 ERA, will get the nod in Friday’s series opener against the Blue Devils, with sophomore Rhett Parrott (Dalton, Ga.), 3-1, 4.81 ERA, slated to throw Saturday, and senior Ben Sheeter (Lilburn, Ga.), 0-1, 5.40 ERA, on Sunday.

Sophomore second baseman Richard Lewis (Marietta, Ga.), .463, 2 HR, 19 RBI, returned to the leadoff spot in last Tuesday’s win at Georgia after being out with a strained quadriceps. He leads the Jackets in batting average, hits and on-base percentage.

Sophomore third baseman Mark Teixeira (Severna Park, Md.), .395, 6 HR, 26 RBI, has moved to second in the batting order. Junior Bryan Prince (Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.), .415, 3 HR, 24 RBI, continues to see the majority of the time behind the plate while batting third.

The middle of the order features juniors Derik Goffena (Sidney, Ohio), .304, 12 RBI, and Jason Basil (West Chester, Ohio), .320, 13 RBI, along with freshman Tyler Parker (Marietta, Ga.), .279, 5 HR, 19 RBI. After seeing time early in the season at catcher, Basil has settled in left field, while Goffena and Parker have split time at first base, with Parker also relieving Prince behind the plate.

Shortstop Victor Menocal (Gainesville, Ga.), .276, 2 HR, 15 RBI, has seen his production at the plate rise. The sophomore led the team with a .450 (9-for-20) batting average last week, including a three-hit game at Georgia.

Junior Brad Stockton (Marietta, Ga.), .281, 1 HR, 11 RBI, is the everyday right fielder, with sophomore Wes Rynders (Marietta, Ga.), .271, 0 HR, 14 RBI, in center field.

Hall was pleased with his squad’s performance a week ago, and he hopes that carries over into this week’s play.

“I think our whole team improved last week,” said Hall. “We got contributions from a lot of different people, and we played much better defense. There were a lot of big plays defensively, including three great catches by Jason Basil. I thought there were a lot of positive signs last week.”

“Every game counts, whether a team is ranked or not, and we need to keep playing well.”

This week’s meetings between the Jackets and Colonels will be the sixth and seventh between the two schools. Tech has taken each of the previous five meetings, including a sweep of a four-game series at Russ Chandler Stadium in 1990. The first meeting between the two schools came during the 1985 NCAA Regionals, in which Tech defeated EKU 14-13. The Colonels are the only Ohio Valley Conference opponent on Tech’s 2000 schedule.

The Blue Devils arrival in Atlanta will mark the second Atlantic Coast Conference series for the Jackets in 2000. Tech and Duke have squared off 70 times on the baseball diamond, with the Jackets holding a 51-19 lead. Tech has won 22 of the last 26 games against Duke, but the two teams have split the last four games. A year ago in Durham, the Blue Devils took the opener of the three-game set, 7-6, before the Jackets rebounded and won the final two games, 10-7 and 6-2. In his tenure on the Flats, Danny Hall has posted a 16-4 record against the Blue Devils, with two of the four losses coming in the ACC Tournament.

Georgia Tech is coming off one of the best weeks in school history with wins at 22nd-ranked Georgia and against Liberty at home before a three-game sweep of second-ranked and previously unbeaten North Carolina. The second-ranked Tar Heels were the highest-ranked team that the Jackets have ever swept., while Tech’s 16-3 victory in the middle game of the series is the most runs that the Jackets have ever scored against UNC.

Tech, which entered last week with a record of 9-6, now has won six straight and sits tied with Clemson atop the Atlantic Coast Conference standings. The Jackets are not likely face another ranked foe until visiting Florida State April 21.

Freshman right-hander Jeff Watchko (Roswell, Ga.) looked like anything but a rookie on the mound last week. Called upon to make his first career start last Wednesday against Liberty, Watchko shut out the Flames over seven innings, striking out ten and not walking a batter to pick up his first win. Three days later, Watchko came out of the bullpen and allowed just one run and five hits over 3-1/3 innings against No. 2 North Carolina to earn the victory in Tech’s 8-7, come-from-behind win.

For the week, Watchko posted a 0.87 ERA over 10-1/3 innings with 13 strikeouts and no walks.


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