Feb. 21, 2014
THE FLATS – Thomas Smith was 3-for-3 with a home run and four RBI as Georgia Tech shook off a three-game skid with a 7-3 victory over UNC Greensboro to open a weekend series Friday night at Russ Chandler Stadium.
Smith’s three-run bomb to left in the fourth inning – the fourth homer of his career – helped the Jackets (2-3) distance themselves from the Spartans (1-2), who were limited to just three singles.
“He had a great day,” said head coach Danny Hall. “He and Coach (Bryan) Prince spent some time yesterday working on his swing, and he came out and had a great BP today and had a great game for us.”
Smith’s RBI single gave the Yellow Jackets a 2-0 lead in the second, one batter after Daniel Spingola’s RBI grounder put the hosts on the board. The junior second baseman drew a walk in the sixth, singled again in the seventh and was the pivot-man on a 6-4-3 double play that ended UNCG’s half of the first.
“Their guy gave him a pitch to hit, and like a good hitter, he didn’t miss it,” said Hall of Smith’s three-run home run. “That gave us a big lift and broke the game open.”
Sophomore lefty Jonathan King gave Tech five shutout innings on the mound, yielding just one hit and one walk with two strikeouts to pick up the win (1-0). Rookies Matt Phillips and Ben Schniederjans each made their debuts by tossing 1-2-3 frames in the eighth and ninth, respectively.
“That was a much better outing for King,” said Hall. “He had more behind all of his pitches and thought he did a nice job.”
After Smith’s three-run shot made it 5-0 in the fourth, the Jackets tacked on two more in the sixth thanks to a sacrifice fly from freshman Ryan Peurifoy to score classmate Arden Pabst. In the next at-bat, freshman Eric Knox knocked a pinch-hit, RBI single to right in his first college at bat.
UNCG picked up all three of its runs in the seventh, thanks to a two-run single from Nick Chapman, and an error that allowed another run to score. Ryan Clark was saddled with the loss, after going five innings and allowing six hits and five runs (all unearned).
Smith’s three hits and four RBI each match career highs for the junior from Ft. Pierce, Fla. His last three-hit effort came versus Florida State his rookie season, while his last four-RBI game was also in his freshman year against North Carolina.
Matt Gonzalez had two of Tech’s 11 hits, and the sophomore is leading Tech offensively through five games with a .389 average.
Tech and UNCG continue the series Saturday at 2 p.m.